Religion vs. Relationship | Teen Ink

Religion vs. Relationship

October 30, 2014
By brysmarie12 PLATINUM, Neoga, Illinois
brysmarie12 PLATINUM, Neoga, Illinois
22 articles 1 photo 53 comments

Favorite Quote:
I am the author of my own life... unfortunately I'm writing in pen and can't erase my mistakes.

Friedrich Nietzsche, a German philosopher once said, “After coming into contact with a religious man I always feel the need to wash my hands.” Many historical figures would agree with the view of Nietzsche, like Napoleon Bonaparte who said, “Religion is excellent stuff for keeping common people quiet,” and Edgar Allen Poe who said, “All religion, my friend, is simply evolved out of fraud, fear, greed, imagination, and poetry.” Countless numbers of people, both past and present, share the views of these men.
Religion is defined as the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. A majority of people, especially college students, cringe when they hear someone start to talk about their religion. Do these people have good reason to “feel the need to wash their hands” after they come into contact with a religious person? Yes, they probably do. Religious groups, especially Christians, have had their fair share of black sheep moments throughout history. From the crusades in Israel in 1095, to simply insulting someone who, up to that point, was open minded on the subject of religion, Christians have earned a bad rap, and rightfully so. Religion is no foreign concept to me. I grew up in the church, and believed that as long as I sat in my pew, sang the worship songs, and only slept through about half the sermon, that I would be able to get into heaven. That’s really all that church and religion are for, right?
Relationship is defined as the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected, or the state of being connected.  A relationship within my religion was something that I had heard of, but had never really cared too much about or dedicated very much time to. People tried to explain to me that Jesus did not die on the cross simply so that we could go to heaven, but so that we could have a relationship with God, like he did. As a child and even as a teenager, this did not make much sense to me. Why would this being, this creature that created everything in the world, want a personal relationship with me? I felt like there were things that He should probably be more concerned about than my seventh grade boyfriend dumping me in the cafeteria.
It would be my senior year of high school before all of this relationship stuff would really sink in. We had an event every year in my youth group called ‘Emerge.’ It was a weekend retreat where we hung out, had a few lessons, stayed up late, and consumed ridiculous amounts of junk food. In previous years, I went mainly for the purpose of being able to spend a whole weekend with my friends, but my senior year, it was different. Maybe it was the fact that I was growing up, that I was beginning to realize that a relationship with God might be a little more important than I had originally thought. Maybe it was seeing two of my very best friends have this incredible connection with God while we were there. Whatever it was, it made a huge impression on me. I saw love in a way that I had never seen it before, a love that these people had for their relationship with God.
One of the many misconceptions that I had about my relationship with God before this weekend was that I had to complete a certain amount of things on the ‘good people list’ in order for Him to love me and want to be a part of my life. This list included things like volunteering in my community, being involved in my church and youth group, not getting drunk on the weekends, refraining from having sex, watching the language that I used, and trying my hardest to be nice to people. As you can all see, I am human, and due to that fact I failed in not one, but multiple areas on this list.  
Before, I had viewed God as this incredible power who wanted nothing more than to punish me for all of the wrongs I had done, or to reward me with eternity in heaven if I had done enough things right. While He is an incredible power, He is an incredible power that loves me deeply and wants a real and meaningful relationship with not only me, but each and every one of His children. At this weekend retreat, one of my friends sat down with me to talk to me about her relationship with Christ. She explained to me that just because she loved God and wanted Him to be a part of her life, did not mean that she had not made mistakes or did not make them still. She illuminated to me that from the time Eve ate the apple in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:6), that God knew that the rest of human kind would be sinners. In the Old Testament, Christians offered sacrifices on altars for their sins to be forgiven. Then, God sent his only Son to earth to be the ultimate sacrifice. This man, Jesus, would carry the weight of all the world’s sins on His shoulders, be crucified, and then raise from the dead so that we could be forgiven. She then went on to explain that this does not give us a free pass to do whatever we please and then claim the forgiveness of God later. It means that God knows that we will mess up, and will forgive us time and time again if we simply repent and ask for his forgiveness.
This is where the grace of God comes in. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 it says, “But He said to me ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.” Grace is the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. Now that is a complicated and heavily worded biblical definition of grace, so I am going to break it down into an example that it easier to understand. Imagine that a man sends his son to his room without dinner for some major disobedience. After a while, he went in to talk with his son and asked what he thought his punishment should be. The boy answered with something like, “I should be grounded for two weeks.” The father answered with, “I agree. That sounds like a fitting punishment. But instead, I’d like you to come out to the kitchen to have dinner with us and then I’m going to take you out for ice cream.” The boy was puzzled, but the father simply smiled and said, “That, my son, is grace.”
My relationship with God is now the most important thing in my life. Do I still make mistakes and do things that I probably shouldn’t on a daily basis? Absolutely. But I know now that I have a Savior who loves me more than I can ever know or comprehend. I choose every single day to live my life for the One who gave His only son for me, who created me with His own hands, and who cares about everything that goes on in my life. I have a friend and comforter that will never leave or forsake me. How could I not dedicate my life to the person who created me, and has given up and done so much for me? I believe there is only one god, my God, who created both the heavens and the earth because I see him. People say that they don’t believe in God because they cannot see him, but that is because they are looking in all the wrong places. I see God every day, in the way my roommate treats me, and makes sure that my needs are met before her own. I see God in the way my parents love me, and how they want me to know their love for Him. I see God in my church family. I have never met a more Christ like group of people. They care for people, and not in the fake way that most Christians are known to care about people. They care about people like Jesus did, taking time to talk to people, to love them.
So the cold, hard truth is that I am, in fact a horrible human being that deserves nothing more than a mediocre life here on earth, if that. However, because I discovered what an incredible thing that a relationship with God can be, I am lucky enough to not only be able to live this life for Him, but to also live with Him in eternity.

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