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John Grady: Religion vs. relationship

We can stand just on Grace but that is like the married couple who exchange marriage vows and say “I love you,” but 10 years later one of the spouses asks the other if they still love them and the response was, “ I told you 10 years ago I did.”
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John Grady: "Eventually, the conversation started flowing naturally and then turned deeply spiritual. She had no real interest in faith related matters but as we were talking, it turned to her husband’s spiritual interest. He was a well-known figure that I had not met but knew that he was searching spiritually. As we talked, I started sharing about my own experiences with the Lord, His love, and faithfulness, and she made this amazing remark that encouraged me so much."

Is it safe to state that it is easier to have religion than relationship? Even as Christians, we can fall into the trap of having religion and not relationship, especially intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ. On one hand, we are totally undeserving because it is all about Jesus and what He did for us, which is called Grace. We can and should be thankful, however, there is so much more we can have and what He desires for us to have in our relationship with Him. 

Relationship with God is personal and yet it isn’t because there are two involved in the relationship. The relationship on our part to be real and true requires effort, does require giving, does require receiving, does require your love, does require sacrifice, does require faith, does require patience, does require learning, does lead to facing our mistakes, does require submission, does require forgiveness, does require worship. We can stand just on Grace but that is like the married couple who exchange marriage vows and say “I love you,” but 10 years later one of the spouses asks the other if they still love them and the response was, “ I told you 10 years ago I did.”

There is a major difference in knowing about Jesus versus knowing Jesus. Non-believers want to know that we know the difference before they respond. Let me give an example.

I was travelling by plane on a short flight and have found that it is a place where He places unsaved people next to me. In this case, the passenger beside me was a lady with a Doctorate in Education and initially was very standoff-ish. I barely got a greeting from her while sitting down and she was deeply engrossed in reading a report of some sort. I pulled out a book I was reading on spiritual leadership, and her curiosity must have motivated her to ask about the book.

Eventually, the conversation started flowing naturally and then turned deeply spiritual. She had no real interest in faith related matters but as we were talking, it turned to her husband’s spiritual interest. He was a well-known figure that I had not met but knew that he was searching spiritually. As we talked, I started sharing about my own experiences with the Lord, His love, and faithfulness, and she made this amazing remark that encouraged me so much. 

She stated, “I have heard people talking about God, quoting the Bible, but I have never heard anyone who talks so personally about God like they actually know God.” I knew that she was beginning to be drawn to the Lord because she perceived it was real. I assured her that I did have a real relationship with My Lord but also stated I had so much more to learn and desired to know Him better. One of the great passages we all know is from David when he stated, “The Lord is my shepherd.” It was so personal for him.

If you had to describe the Lord to someone today and then a year from now describe the Lord to the same person, I trust you would have a greater depth of knowing God than you did a year previous. You would be able to share the changes that He has made in your life during that year. This would include how you have fallen more in love with Him, the details of how He has worked in your life, how He has given greater revelation to you of His word, how He has opened doors for you to share of His love to the unsaved and how you have heard His still quiet voice and walked in obedience to it.

I trust that like you, my depth of intimacy will continue to grow in relationship with the Lord and it will become more vibrant and real.


John Grady lives and writes in Fort St John.

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