Religion but no relationship

“What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you are careful to tithe even the tiniest income from your herb gardens,<sup class="footnote" style="font-size: 0.65em; font-weight: bold; line-height: 0.5em; vertical-align: text-top;" value="[m]”>[m] but you ignore justice and the love of God. You should tithe, yes, but do not neglect the more important things.

 43 “What sorrow awaits you Pharisees! For you love to sit in the seats of honor in the synagogues and receive respectful greetings as you walk in the marketplaces. 44 Yes, what sorrow awaits you! For you are like hidden graves in a field. People walk over them without knowing the corruption they are stepping on.”

Luke 11:42-44
(For more on this story click the verse link)

I was listening to a Mark Driscoll sermon a couple of weeks ago on the Pharisees and their religion. It led me to spend some time praying more about the difference between having religion and having a relationship with Christ.

When you’re struggling, often times turn to those around you for wisdom. You seek out those that appear to have it all together or appear godlier. That is not always the wise way to go. Many people have religion. They know all the right things to say, can answer all the questions, can quote scripture and are always seen at church but that is where it ends.
Many have what it takes to follow Christ. They know what to do, what to say and who to follow but their heart belongs to something else. The relationship with Christ is missing. They do not know Him in a personal and intimate way.
This morning during my quiet time, I read the following devotion and I began to think about how misguided our thoughts can be about others and ourselves.  I have often compared myself to those around me wishing that I was as “godly” or knew as much as they did.  God has been working on me. I am learning that people are not always what they appear.  If actions do much match up to words, then it is quite possible that they live according to rules and religion and are lacking a relationship with Christ. Many claim His name but have never really known Him.
When you begin to doubt who you are in Christ, just ask Him.  He’ll answer.

Judas, The Man Who Never Knew

I’ve wondered at times what kind of man this Judas was. What he looked like, how he acted, who his friends were.

I guess I’ve stereotyped him. I’ve always pictured him as a wiry, beady-eyed, sly, wormy fellow, pointed beard and all. I’ve pictured him as estranged from the other apostles.

Friendless. Distant. Undoubtedly he was a traitor and a quisling. Probably the result of a broken home. A juvenile delinquent in his youth.

Yet I wonder if that is so true. We have no evidence (save Judas’s silence) that would suggest that he was isolated. At the Last Supper, when Jesus said that his betrayer sat at the table, we don’t find the apostles immediately turning to Judas as the logical traitor.

No, I think we’ve got Judas pegged wrong. Perhaps he was just the opposite. Instead of sly and wiry, maybe he was robust and jovial. Rather than quiet and introverted, he could have been outgoing and well-meaning. I don’t know.

But for all the things we don’t know about Judas, there is one thing we know for sure: He had no relationship with the Master. He had seen Jesus, but he did not know him. He had heard Jesus, but he did not understand him. He had a religion but no relationship.

As Satan worked his way around the table in the upper room, he needed a special kind of man to betray our Lord. He needed a man who had seen Jesus but who did not know him. He needed a man who knew the actions of Jesus but had missed out on the mission of Jesus. Judas was this man. He knew the empire but had never known the Man.

Judas bore the cloak of religion, but he never knew the heart of Christ.

We learn this timeless lesson from the betrayer. Satan’s best tools of destruction are not from outside the church; they are within the church. A church will never die from the immorality in Hollywood or the corruption in Washington. But it will die from corrosion within—from those who bear the name of Jesus but have never met him and from those who have religion but no relationship.

Judas bore the cloak of religion, but he never knew the heart of Christ. Let’s make it our goal to know … deeply.

From Shaped by God (original title: On the Anvil) Copyright (Tyndale House, 1985, 2002) Max Lucado

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