A couple of nights ago I was prepping a couple for their wedding this Saturday.
Part of the prep was to look at the ‘Love passage’ from 1 Corinthians 13. As we were going through it, it occurred to me that God isn’t religious.
I got to that thought by reading through and discussing, ‘what love is,’ with this couple. Then, in my mind, I linked the passage from 1 John 4:8, “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (NIV)
Through the pen or stylus of John, God describes himself as ‘love.’ Love has nothing to do with protocol, although it can be included in the protocol. Love has nothing to do with tradition, although without it, tradition could be quite dry.
God could have described himself in an infinite number of ways, but he chose love. He didn’t say, I am the God of dotted ‘I’s’ and crossed ’T’s,’ he could have, but, he didn’t say that. From the pen of the one who spent three unbelievable years with Jesus, the one who heard him say, “If you have seen me you have seen the Father,” John writes, “…God is love.”
That’s it, that is all you need. That is all I need. Three up close and personal, very personal, years and searching for the right word John says it is ‘Love.’
John knew that Jesus wasn’t religious. He watched and heard him call those who were religious some pretty shameful things. He heard Jesus say, “You need to do what they are saying, the good things, but don’t be like them.” It is like John’s observation was saying, don’t switch the relationship from personal to performance. Jesus never did.
Why not take a walk with Jesus through the pages of scripture? Don’t read to prove something, instead, read to get the whole picture, and I think you will begin to realize that it was all personal with him. Jesus showed it was people that mattered to God, not religion. In fact, the only way that religion mattered at all was when Jesus said, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” That statement was even more up close and personal as it came from Jesus’ half-brother James. (James 1:27, NIV) God then and now desired to have intimate, personal, connect with people who were being kept away from him by the religion that was supposed to bring them to him.
So, today, God isn’t looking for you to get religion. I kind of think he hopes you won’t. Instead, God is looking for us to have a personal relationship with him that is only available through Jesus.