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Do I need this?

“The person who knows my commandments and keeps them, that’s who loves me. And the person who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and make myself plain to him.” (John 14:21 MSG)

Some might think there are a whole lot of different gods in this world and they'd be correct in their assumption! There are a lot of 'different gods' in this world, all of them man-made gods. Even men who have risen to places of 'adored exaltation' are not really all that exalted. There are a few reasons why Christianity is different from every other world religion in which someone or something has been exalted as the god they worship. We observe the first difference in respect to 'how' one is able to be made 'righteous'. In all other world religions one must 'earn' their way to some placement or position. It is a system of 'works' to become more 'enlightened', 'fulfilled', or 'empowered'. As my pastor so aptly puts it - all other religions require us to work our way to their god, but Christianity is clearly about God working his way to us. Think for a moment on what we find recorded for us in Romans 5:8 about how Christ died for us. If we truly understand that passage, we notice one very clear thing - before we did anything for him, he did it all for us! The truth is that God doesn't wait on us to get things right in our lives - to achieve some place or position with him. He takes the first step and then does the rest to boot!

While almost every 'religion' has some set of very specific rules that must be followed, from observing various days or seasons to very specific rituals, Christianity is a bit different. You see, God reminded us these might be good things to help us remember we serve a great big God, but they don't get us any 'stature' or 'special attention' from God. He finds one thing very attractive - relationship. He wants us to be in relationship with him - intimate, growing, and free relationship. Rules and rituals pretty much keep us bound to the need to 'perform' in order to attain something - bringing us right back to 'earning' our way into heaven once again. In Christ Jesus, God showed us there was no 'earning' through ritual or religious pursuit - relationship was established and maintained by the actions of Christ and nothing else. Some may find great joy in keeping certain 'seasons' of celebration in their churches, but if they become the focus and not the relationship, we are drifting outside of what God desires of his children. 

As we are nearing the Easter celebration - the remembrance of the empty tomb of Christ and all that was accomplished in his death, burial, and resurrection - let us never lose sight of the fact the tomb is a reminder of all he accomplished. The tomb never held him captive and it shall not hold his followers captive, either. There was no system of works, or rule-keeping service-based rituals that accomplished his release from the tomb. It was relationship with his Father - something he provides to all who enter into relationship with him. Christ is the difference between all other world religions and Christianity. His sacrifice on our behalf was what created that 'bridge' between our 'rule-keeping' existence and that which is opened into intimate relationship with the One True God. We might not fully recognize our need for Christ, nor our desire for relationship with God, but both are provided even before we do! Just sayin!

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