There is a difference in having a personal relationship with God and having a religious way of life.
Most people believe in God and are born into a particular religion. We inherit our religious beliefs from our ancestors and then pass that down to our children. In some instances many people practice their religion just to keep up appearances. They follow the rituals robotically without questioning the value and importance of their religious practices. We can become dogmatic about what we believe and the way in which we follow religious instructions handed down to us.
Religion provides the set of rules for healthy spiritual and social living. There are guidelines that, if we follow, we become enlightened and helped to a higher form of spiritual enlightenment. We feel the sense of spiritual need within us and that is why we seek for answers in religion. Religion distinguishes us from just being another human being. It provides us with a sense of belonging to a certain group of believers who follow the same set of religious rules and regulations.
The common denominator in Christianity is the belief in Jesus Christ and the bible as the guide. Religion is a force that can sometimes drive people to act strangely in the name of “God”. It can serve as a tool to start a movement or used to make a statement to harm innocent people. Religions in the world offer worship to many gods. In Christianity, Jesus Christ is the one who connects us to the living God.
Why do we feel that we have to believe in God or in a higher being? The need to connect spiritually has been encoded into our DNA. We know that we are not just body and mind but spiritual beings, who can think, create and determine their own destiny. We have learnt that we have to connect and form relationships with one another in order to advance and live comfortably. An intimate relationship is between two people and needs constant attention and nurturing. It is not about following a set of rules, but connecting with each other emotionally, spiritually, mentally and physically. Forming a bond with someone takes time, effort and work. This bond of love with someone is a daily effort and communication takes place all the time. The principle of communicating with God is the same.
We have the word (Bible) as a guideline on how we should live and apply the instructions to our daily lives. By faith, we believe that we can communicate direct with God in prayer and that our fellowship with Him is personal. We “hear” God’s voice in the scriptures of the bible. We “feel” His presence when we worship and glorify him in all our circumstances. God’s Holy Spirit moves us and moves within us to bring glory to Him. A loving friendship between two people means they are accountable to each other. A bond of love exists between the two. They show each other love and respect through their actions and words. A spiritual “relationship” with God is an active, growing, living experience that is far beyond any other friendship you will ever have. A relationship with God starts with faith. You have to believe that He exists and that when you call out to Him that He will answer and commune with you. Exodus 33: 11 “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face as a man speaks with his friend”.
A relationship with the Lord is an act of worship.