8/4/15 Joshua 17
“Christianity isn’t a religion, it’s a relationship”. As I talk with people on the streets, relatively few have heard this idea, or if they have they haven’t understood its significance. It often goes unnoticed because they really don’t understand its implications, especially young people. I know when I was 17 years old, I not only was oblivious to that idea but I hadn’t even really thought about what being in a “relationship” was all about. Sure, I had plenty of relationships with people in my life at different levels, but I hadn’t yet developed the ability to evaluate them critically. I had not stood back and looked at any of my relationships from an objective point of view. Maybe that’s why I felt the need to focus on what it can be like to be in a right relationship with God as I talked with a young man named Joshua, 17, whom I reached out to at a park. Like Joshua, I had grown up in a relatively formal denominational church. I had been through confirmation classes and was familiar with many different Bible stories and personalities, but I had failed to realize that Jesus was by far the central person of the Bible. Of all the people in the Bible only Jesus was sinless, only Jesus was the Creator and not part of the creation, and only Jesus been raised from the dead and is available for us to be in relationship with. And Jesus was the first in the Bible to teach that God wants us to relate to Him as “Our Father”, not as a critical judge we try to avoid or as a heavenly Santa Claus whom we go to only when we need something. I talked with Joshua how communication with God can occur with the help of the Holy Spirit and through prayer, Bible reading, and the fellowship of a local church. The rituals, traditions, and disciplines of Christianity as a religion may help some people deepen their relationship with God, but the focus needs to be on the person of Jesus, not the religion.