If you’ve been around the Christian environment long enough, you’ve probably heard the phrase, “It’s not about religion. It’s about a relationship.” This is a true statement. Many people just go to church and “do” the professional Christian thing. Arrive at church. Sing. Listen. Leave. And then live their lives with God on the back burner.
There have been times (too many) when I’ve done this very same thing. In fact, I often find myself going back to this default setting, even though I am a committed follower of Jesus Christ. Christianity has been a way of life for me for the almost 30 years. I loved going to youth group and hanging with friends as I was well-known and liked (at least, I believe I was). I went to a christian college and remained in the culture of Christianity where I made new relationships, found a great Christian woman to marry, was elected as elder and eventually, elected as Associate Pastor. Why? Maybe because I’m a good Christian and fit the mold. After all, I speak Christianese very well and listen to Christian radio all the time.
Honestly, it’s been easy for me to live the Christian life. Not that there haven’t been tough times. There have been. But, overall, it’s been easy. Too easy. Christianity can become a way of life more than anything, especially for the child being brought up in a Christian home. I find myself living so much within the culture of Christianity that I sometimes forget to focus on that which really matters…my relationship with Jesus Christ. I sometimes even believe that I can handle situations with the knowledge I have as a professional Christian. Sad thing is, I know I am not alone. You may be like that, too.
As a counselor, I challenge people to involve Jesus into their struggles and work on their relationship with Him. Read a Biblically based book, read Scriptures, pray often, seek Him, etc. But as a “Professional Christian,” having all the good Christian pat answers are frequently on the tip of the tongue. I can’t help but ask myself, rather frequently in fact, if I practice what I preach, why I do what I do, whether my fly is down before I preach, and whether my faith is as real as I show it to be.
A few months ago, I was challenged by a friend to make sure my relationship with Jesus is real and I’m not just playing the cultural Christian. I’ve altered his advice to make it as an acrostic, because that’s what we professional Christians and Pastors do to help us remember (I need all the help I can get!). So, without further ado, here is one way to keep it real between Jesus and Me:
T — Thoughts – What have I been thinking about today? What are my worries and concerns? What keeps popping up in my mind? Tell Jesus
H — Heart – What am I feeling? Am I afraid? Worried? Sad? Excited? Depressed? Confused? Anxious? Share with Jesus
A — Answer – What does God’s Word say about my concerns and feelings? What words of His will I need to apply in my life? Listen to Jesus
N — Name – What is the name of God that rings most true for me? “Prince of Peace”? “Jehovah Jireh”? “I Am”? “Alpha & Omega”? Trust in Jesus
K — Kingdom – Whose Kingdom will you live in today? The kingdom of me or the Kingdom of God? Whom will you serve? Follow Jesus
S — Share – Will you be open and honest with these things with the Lord and share what the Lord is doing in your life with others? Testify about Jesus
Truth be told, I don’t do this as an everyday activity…but it is a challenge to you and to me to make it real with Christ and not just play the cultural Christian game of life. We need Him more than we need to play the game of Cultural Christianity. We need Him because our default settings are to turn back to sin and to remain comfortable in being cultural Christians. My friends, continue to pursue Christ and not Christianity. After all, it’s not about religion, it’s about a relationship…a real relationship with Jesus.