Have you ever had someone invite you over to their house for dinner? So you show up all excited because you really want to get to know that person more. Why? Because you like their personality. They seem to be so much fun to be around. You come in the house with the expectation of great conversation, delicious food and most importantly a time of getting to become better friends. But, then when you get there the person tells you to have a seat and says I have to do a few things in the other room. They hurry out of the room. You hear a bunch of noise coming from the other room. You ask them if you can help with anything and they say no I’ve got it under control. I can do it.
You sit and wait. Five minutes pass by. Then five minutes turns into ten, ten into fifteen. You have now been sitting there for over an hour when finally the person rushes out of the other room practically out of breath and they say to you here is dinner. They hand you a plate full of food and then say go ahead and eat I have to finish something and leave again. After you have finished eating, the person comes in and says well, did you enjoy the food? And you say yes, are you going to eat now to? They reply oh no I already ate. Well, I have to get up early tomorrow morning for work. I had a great time with you. Let’s do this again next week.
As you get into the car, you realize that you spent the majority of the night all by yourself. You never got to know the person any better than you knew them before. Not much of a relationship is it?
Surprisingly, just like the scenario I described this is how many who say that they are in a relationship with Jesus treat Him. But the scenario I described is not an example of a relationship it is an example of religion. The person who invited the other one for dinner missed the point of what the evening was about. They were so caught up in serving that they never sat down to enjoy the person’s company and get to know them more. Did they show them hospitality by making them dinner and bringing them food? Yes, but they missed the good part which was to enjoy being with the person they invited to come over.
Many times Religion can be often confused with Relationship. We can think if I do all these things for Jesus such as, give to the poor, say all the right words, pray ten hours a day, read a whole book in the Bible (such as the whole book of Psalms) everyday then I can say I have a relationship with Him. Is it good to give to the poor? Yes. Is it good to read our Bible and pray? Yes. Jesus loves it when we do good. But there is something that He loves more than all of that. He Loves You!! And even though He knows you inside and out He loves it when you tell Him about what is going on in your life. He loves it when you tell Him your needs. He loves to help you through the hard times and the struggles that you face. He loves to bless you with everything He has for you. He loves it when you spend time with Him. He loves it when you let Him talk with you and tell you how much He cares about every detail of your life. He loves it when you trust in Him.
I would like to share with you one of my favorite scriptures and then show you what the Lord showed me about it. Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
In this scripture, Jesus began to show me the difference between Religion and Relationship. Religion is where I would try to in my own strength make myself righteous before Jesus so that I could be in relationship with Him. This resulted in burning myself out, becoming tired and wanting to give up because I just couldn’t do enough to be right with Jesus. Relationship is that I am already righteous because I accepted Jesus as my Savior and He made me right with Him.
Then God showed me this picture of how I would be running around trying to make sure everything was in order so that Jesus would not get upset. Jesus would be sitting there and watching until finally He said to me, Are you done being tired, worn out and trying to fix yourself? Because if you are, I will show you what it means to be in relationship with me. You don’t have to do all these things to impress me. I loved you from the moment you were created. Sit here and rest. Be with me. You don’t have to do anything more to make me love you, accept you or be in relationship with you. Because I always will love you, accept you and be in relationship with you no matter what you do. Let me teach you what it means to be in relationship with me. Let’s enjoy our relationship together. I will walk you through life.
This is what it means to be in relationship with Jesus. If you can relate to this and have been working hard to be right with Jesus and in relationship with Him, the questions I have for you are this: Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Because if you are, Jesus is waiting to show you what it means to be in a true relationship with Him. A relationship that will bring you joy, love, peace and rest. You don’t have to perform for Him. You may ask but aren’t we supposed to read our Bibles and pray? Yes, but not out of obligation. You read your Bible and pray because you want to know more about Him and discover what He thinks about you. You do it because of the overflow of love you have from your heart that comes from the realization of how truly wonderful He is. You do it out of a place of rest not out of a place of turmoil.
I would like to end with verse it is found in Deuteronomy 33:12 it says, “Let the one the Lord loves rest safely in Him. The Lord guards him all day long. The one the Lord loves rests in His arms.”
Jesus loves it when you rest in Him. Lay aside your religious duties and let Him love you. When you do, He will show you who He is and what He is really like. He will take care of every detail that concerns you. You don’t have to do it all on your own. He is waiting to be with you. He will be your guide for life.