Where religion calls people first to obedience, Christianity calls people to an obedient relationship.
Now, you might wonder why I didn’t just say, “Christianity calls people to a relationship”. To that, I would say, Christ doesn’t call us to any type of relationship. He calls us to a relationship as Creator and created being, Father and child, Master and servant. We are not little gods but made in the image of God. Therefore, we are subject to God and are called to be obedient. We are obedient because of what God has already done!
If that is the case, what’s the difference? We’re called to obey either way, so why is Christianity different? The difference is in the relationship. Where religion calls you only to obedience for a reward (of life, eternal life, or gifts in the near future), Christianity calls you to obedience out of a relationship with Jesus who did the work to give us life, eternal life and life to the full.
No other religion calls us beloved children of God being invited into God’s house because the price has already been paid. The price is always due in religion to do more and be better. In Christianity, the price is already paid in full and in light of that, we are now called to seek God as our Lord, Father and Savior as a response to what God has already done.
Let me provide two pictures as an illustration for us.
To buy a gift, I might go into a gift shop, pick up the phone, send an email or place an order to buy that gift. By doing that action (adding the payment of course), I would leave with that particular thing I bought. Correct actions through a correct channel (obedience) to receive the object I’m looking for (reward)
However, if my mother received a gift (reward), she would buy thank you cards or send an email or pick up the phone or even run over to a person’s house to tell that person who bought her a gift that she appreciated the gift and she wanted to let them know. As a response, she would do a correct action through the most appropriate channel (obedience) to honor the work or action taken by the other party (relationship).
In these two circumstances, one action is done for a reward, the other action is done out of appreciation for the reward already given. The secondary action is done in response to an ongoing relationship. We live in a particular manner because this is the best way to honor and thank God for what He has already done for us.
God calls us to live obediently to him, not because we’re necessarily doomed if we don’t, but because in the myriad of ways to honor and thank a perfect God, living perfectly is the best way to do that. We try to be holy because God is holy and in doing so, we are children imitating our Heavenly Father! We aim for perfection because God is perfect. We, as children of God live as peacemakers because God made peace with us. We live imitating a loving and good Father as His children.
Our actions come out of what Christ has already done for us. He has made us right with God by taking away our sin, brokenness and darkness and giving to us his righteousness, perfection and light. So now we stand, not as children of darkness, but children of the light. Not as lost sons and daughters, but found, alive and beloved!
We are called into obedience because we’re called into a relationship. One that started before you were born. One that was bought with a cost of the only begotten son of God, Jesus, going willingly to the cross to give his life for you and me, that whoever believes in him, will not die but have eternal life.
Friends, we have eternal life because of what Jesus did on the cross for us! In light of that work, in that relationship God started with you…What will you do in response to such a great gift of an imperishable, undefiled, unfading inheritance, our living hope!
Parkland Community Church:
We Exist to Develop People Who Love Jesus and Serve Others.