Religion vs. Relationship
“Religion will keep you stuck in the chaos
Relationship will set you on the path of peace”
(Cultivating Peace page 41)
I am a rule-following girl to my core. I always want to do it “right” because “right” is a way to calm my anxiety caused by the underlying fear that I am not good enough.
The problem, however, is in the definition of “right.”
My definition of “right” was to live up to the impossible standards I set based on what I believed would get me ahead in this world. You too?
What gets us ahead in this world though? Followers and “Friends”? Marital bliss? Financial freedom? Pinterest-worthy homes? Instagram photos capturing our perfect mommy moments? The career that means we’re going somewhere? How about this: Building a life based on getting it all done at all costs above and beyond what is humanly possible?
Been there, done that and it literally almost killed me. Instead I wrote a book about it and have decided to lead a free online class through each chapter. If you'd like to join me and receive additional insider information, please register HERE. Class begins Thursday April 13, but you can register through April 19 to get exclusive additonal content and free downloads!
Let's begin at the beginning...
In chapter one of Cultivating Peace, we will encounter 5 key concepts I want to highlight here. (Please be sure to read the chapter. If you don’t yet have a copy, you can purchase one here.)
1. The Legalism of Religion vs the Freedom of Relationship (pages 31-32)
Legalism in religion is rule following in order to earn favor with God. This kind of behavior is based on striving to prove to God (and everyone else) we are good enough and keeps us stuck in a pattern of having to earn God’s (and other's) love. When we are practicing legalistic behavior, we are filled with guilt, living out our daily lives through the lens of comparison and regret. Sound familiar?
Relationship is abiding with Jesus and trusting He will give us what we need to do what God has planned for us to do each day. It is living in the protection of God’s love, given freely and not earned of our own actions, without fear of condemnation for past behavior. This is the goal of Cultivating Peace: to learn to abide with Jesus and live our lives in relationship with Him, trusting Him to lead us through our daily lives according to His plan.
2. Our New Foundation (page 33)
Most of our lives we have been living on a foundation of our own manufacturing, and have experienced the utter wiping away of that foundation whenever life’s storms hit. The truth, however, is that connected to God, nothing will be impossible for us. What has been causing our negative reactions to the chaos in our lives is the faulty foundation we have been trying to build on our own. God, in His grace and mercy, has given us His personal foundation: Jesus Christ, upon whom we are invited to participate with him in the building of the lives we were created to have. This requires us to trust God is in control, that His timing and ways are best, and allow Him to graft His plans into our lives, instead of insisting He graft our plans onto His.
3. Building vs Tearing Down: (page 36)
In Proverbs 14:1 two women are depicted; a foolish one and a wise one: “A wise woman builds her home, but a foolish woman tears it down with her own hands.” We have a choice: will we chose to be wise or remain foolish? Living in religion keeps us stuck in foolishness. Living in the four key principles of relationships gives us the wisdom we need to build.
In this context, the four key principles of relationships (which we will carry through each relationship model in our lives throughout Cultivating Peace) is represented like this:
Submission to God through Jesus = Personal protection from having to figure everything out all on our own.
Respect for Jesus's Kingship and sacrifice = Personal peace with God "as is." (We don’t have to change to be accepted by Him.)
Forgiveness through Jesus = Personal restoration, redemption and resurrection into a new life without having to fix it ourselves.
Intimacy with Jesus = Closeness to God so that we may receive what we need each day. (The removal of the burden to have to do it all.)
4. The Product of Relationship Building (page 37)
As we build a relationship with Jesus, we are opened up to receive the love God has for us which transforms us from what we once were into who He created us to be. We have spent lifetimes trying to be good enough for God’s love, always coming up short. A relationship with Jesus reveals we have always been loved, even in the midst of our worst choices. As the truth of that love permeates our thoughts, our beliefs about ourselves begin to change which affect our choices. God is working in us to reveal who we have always been: His beloved daughter.
5. Our Life Long Process of Cultivating Peace (pages 38-41)
As you will see as you read though this chapter and the rest of the book, cultivating peace is a journey. It is a process of learning to undo the worldly habits we have adopted in favor of living for God. It’s messy and imperfect and sometimes pretty frustrating, but I promise you it is absolutely worth every struggle we encounter along the way.
It is worth it to struggle to stop trying to be in control of everyone and everything in our lives through learning to submit to God.
It is worth it to struggle to stop earning our place by doing through learning to respect Jesus.
It is worth it to struggle to stop living as our old selves through learning to receive forgiveness.
And it is worth it to struggle to stop living in fear through developing intimacy with God through our salvation in Jesus Christ.
The Final Thought:
Peace is not the absence of chaos, but the absolute trust in the plan of God regardless of how overwhelming our circumstances may be. The presence of peace is not the absence of encountering stress or weariness, but what we receive when we turn to Jesus in those moments.
Each week I will share a “homework” assignment to help you personalize what you read here and in each chapter. These assignments will also be the starting points of our “discussions” on my Feedback Friday posts on Facebook. (You will find each week’s post pinned to the top of my page here after 9 am central each Friday.)
Here are this week’s assignments:
Download and fill out a Schedule Tracker™. (click here to download) Track what you do every day for one week. Don’t judge yourself or make it look pretty (I will share mine each week). Just write down what you do and when (See page 72 of Digging Deeper for further instructions)
Which activity listed on pages 40-41 of Cultivating Peace will you do this week? Share your response in the comments section below to be entered into the drawing for a free personal schedule management coaching session with me.
Do questions 1-5 of Digging Deeper (pages 9-13)