Relationship over Religion
Many years ago a lady commented on a pair of cross earrings I was wearing, “I love your earrings you religious little thing.” I would have considered the remark insulting, but I really don’t think this woman understood the difference between religion and a genuine relationship with Jesus. Let’s take a look:
During his earthly ministry Jesus ate with Jewish “undesirables”:
“When the Pharisees saw this, they said to the disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?'” (Matthew 9:11 NRSV).
The answer is easy: Jesus came to save everyone and one of the biggest weapons in His arsenal is relationship!
The “Wrong” People
On another occasion Jesus was passing through Jericho and singled out a tax collector sitting in a tree . . . hardly a member of the “right” religious group:
“Zacchaeus, hurry and come down; for I must stay at your house today” (Luke 19:5).
Why did Jesus do this? He came to save everyone, and His love builds better relationships than legalism.
The “Too Busy”
Jesus had very dear friends during His earthly ministry; this included Lazarus and his two sisters. Lazarus, Mary, and Martha welcomed their dear Friend into their home on several occasions. During one visit the sisters showed two very different responses to Jesus’ presence; Mary sat at His feet while Martha cleaned and complained:
“‘Martha, Martha you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her'” (Luke 10:41, 42).
What can we learn from Mary and Martha? Things may be noble and done with good intentions, but true relationship is superior to the religion of doing and of appearances. Relationship endures, religion dies away. Mary made the better choice.
Bottom line: Jesus chose relationship over the scandalous appearance of eating with tax collectors and sinners. He chose to spend a day of fellowship with a hated tax collector rather than pursuing the company of the religious Pharisees. And, although I’m sure Jesus appreciated all the work Martha did to make His visit in her home nice, He desired her heart and company above all else.
Word for Today: When it comes to Christianity, choose relationship over religion.