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Relationship, Not Religion

December 20, 2015


Jesus said:

“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.  Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.  You are my friends if you do what I command.  I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business.  Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-fruit that will last.  Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name.  This is my command: Love each other.”  John 15: 12-17

This is oh so very simple.  Jesus desires that we love Him and one another.  We were created to be in an agape and phileo love relationship with the Lord and each other.  Jesus wants to be friends with us.  We are called to be in a relationship with Him that goes deeper and is much more personal than He just being Master and us being His servants.  Christ’s example indicates that being friends is perhaps our highest calling in this life.  This relates to my last blog about making disciples.  The best and most effective way of making disciples is via friendship.  That is exactly how Jesus treated and taught His disciples.

Friend to friend is how we reach others for the Kingdom, not teacher to student, Pastor to “layperson” or Clergy to “laity”.  Knowing these things should lead us to view everything through the lens of relationship, instead of the lens of religion, tradition or doctrine.  When we read and try to understand the bible we should do so in a relational manner.  The Spirit will lead us into all truth and I say that all truth is relational truth.  When we approach the bible in this manner we will see it as living, alive and real; instead of a book of rules, dead letter and regulations.  If you look for relationship, love, grace and freedom you will find it there.  However, if you take a non-relational approach you will just find dead religion instead of Christ.  Taking a purely academic approach will fail you also.  To understand the text you will have to use your heart more than your head.  They say most people miss God by only 18 inches…the distance between your brain and your heart.

Jesus is the King of Kings and He commands that we be in a loving relationship with Him and one another.  To make a friend you have to be a friend.  It involves laying your heart and everything else on the line.  To know Jesus is to Love Him and to love Him you must surrender everything, including your personal comfort zones.  In the process of making friends you end up making disciples.  The challenge is to love Jesus and those He places in your life every single day.

Love and…..

Kirk Out !

P.s.  This morning I stepped out of my comfort zone and visited a traditional Lutheran “church” service near Toledo Ohio.  My dear friend of over 30 years, Doug Oxford, was there to share some folksy Christmas songs with his own special arrangements.  Doug is one of the best vocalists I have ever known and his acoustic guitar work is also quite excellent.  Seeing Doug was great, but the rest of the service was cold, mechanical liturgy.  Responsive readings just aren’t my thing, but then I realized that those readings were as interactive as it was ever going to get for those poor people in the congregation.  That fact brought tears to my eyes.  It reminded me to be very thankful for the freedom we experience in open and free, Spirit led, relational fellowship.  It is a true blessing to be free from the constraints of dead religion and to be able to have true interactive dialogue whenever we gather for fellowship.  Today reminded me to not take for granted the great liberty we have found in Christ outside of the institutional system.




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  1. Hi Kirk, i’m trying to find a blog you did or a link you might have shared that talks about the gifts in the NT being verbs rather than nouns…doe this ring a bell?

  2. Sky permalink

    Sorry you had to go through that Chris, these buildings and their goings on break my heart too. And I think they break His. We have totally missed Mt. 25,(not just feeding the poor but knowing the poor, being WITH them) Luke 14 (taking up our cross) and so many passages that reveal His heart of love for walking this out. I am convicted of missing it and joining “the Empire” of consumerism and independent living. There is an Irresistible Revolution happening – Shane Claiborne. I don’t know where it goes but it’s never too late to be transformed.

    • Thanks for sharing Skylla. You’re right it does no good to store up for ourselves love, wisdom and knowledge, because we need to walk the truth in love with real boots on the ground so that we can impact each others lives in a very real, positive and tangible way.

  3. Zelos permalink

    You said just what we believe word for word, amen brother Kirk. how hard it is to get the church to comprehend something so simple yet so profound as friendship

  4. David Richardson permalink

    I like your raw Christian theology. As s basically agnostic individual I am disgusted with Christians who obsess about gay marriage in the name of the Bible, and forget they were commanded to love and bless their enemies and feed the poor. I don’t want to discuss gay marriage, the point is Christians who are fighting a war to discriminate aren’t loving and serving their enemies and are missing the raw core of Christianity.

    I appreciate that you stick to the notion of “let us commune with the Holy Spirit and love one another”, and don’t waste your time selling theological prejudice. It is why, as someone who is an outsider I am fond of your perspective. I think “at least this guy is trying to DO Christianity”.

    I find institutional Christianity really boring, but think you may be wasting your sorrow. A miracle is that in most of the different incarnations of Christianity the Holy Spirit still manages to find people. I grew up in the Episcopal Church and have worshipped in most mainline and nondenominational settings over the years. I have been pleasantly surprised to find that the Holy Spirit and Christian fellowship are able to occur in a wide range of places, perhaps in spite of our human silliness.

    • Rich Chamberlin permalink

      Yes, David, it is a rare , miracle, in spite of the backward structure and policies. Seems God insists a few carry HIS message, so there is hope in each generation. We need many to commit to carry that hope into spiritual battle, so it will not be as rare!

  5. Thank you for sharing here for the first time David and Zelos. Yes David, I think keeping it real and simple is what it is all about. I know the Lord moves in all sorts of locations, including various “church” expressions. HOwever, walking in grace, freedom and happiness is not something we have to wait for until we reach the other side of life. One can be saved, but still have religious shackles on that only fall off when we are able to freely express our love and joy in a beautiful life long conversation with the Lord and one another. Religious bondage keeps us trapped in the pews with our voices silenced. I desire my siblings in Christ to be free in this life as well as their lives to come in glory. We don’t have to wait to share freely in the here and now.

  6. Yes… well said Christopher

  7. Sky permalink

    I hear you David. Dead religion is totally boring, something you would not find in the heart of God for His People. But….”where” is the City set on a hill? Therein is the problem maybe. IT’s not a “where” it’s something altogether “other” as in the Kingdom of Heaven is within. I have a background in conservative evangelicalism (whatever THAT is) but I thought it was fundamentally “right” compared to liberal – what I considered antinomian or cheap grace camps – but I am rethinking pretty much all of it. What you said about feeding the poor and loving our enemies, I see totally lacking other than throwing money AT organizational ministries and “missions”. Sorry for all the quotation marks, I simply cannot use the same language that so many use as the meanings are totally skewed. Why do we think that responding to violence with violence is viable? Why do we segregate ourselves into cliques, endless cliques… cliques, business cliques, racial, age, locational, on and on and on. We so love our sameness, sigh. thanks for the safe space to rant Chris. Love you as always old friend.

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