Religion or Relationship?

 As I began working on the sermon for this week I was fascinated by reading online quotes concerning religion; almost all of which were negative.  One definition of religion is: “a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects.”   It is not this definition that causes such a negative reaction from people, but the arrogance, hypocrisy, smugness, and hatred that is so often characteristic of those who hold deeply to their religion. 

Jesus answered the religious leader’s question concerning what is most important by going straight to the heart of the matter.  As important as “beliefs and practices” are; they are no where near what Jesus defined as most important.  How would people describe us if we took Jesus seriously?  What if our first objective was to “love our neighbor” rather than convince our neighbor of the truth of our positions?  What if we were more aware of how far we fall short of the command to love God with all of our being than we are of the failings of others?  What if love for God and love for neighbor became the first priority of our lives above every other command of God?  These were some of the questions I think of as I reflect on today’s sermon.

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Byron FikePreaching Minister

Byron has been the preaching minister at Clear Lake since 1999. He and his wife have three grown children, who have also devoted their lives to serving the Lord. In his personal time, Byron likes to read books, watch movies, and play with his little dog Willie. He also is an avid follower of Alabama football, having grown up in Tuscaloosa during the glory days of Bear Bryant.

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2 Responses to “Religion or Relationship?”

  1. avatar tommytwotoez says:

    Awesome Sermon again Byron! It was especially uplifting because of your focus on godly love. I can’t really count the number of times you’ve mentioned our need to take a closer look at the Greatest Commandment? A bunch of times I’m sure! But your totally right, as called by Jesus himself, “The Greatest Commandment,” if it is not at our very core, the very source of all our ethos, then everything is for not!

    John the Beloved penned this commandment beautifully when he said, “If you have no love for your brother or sister then you have no love for God” (1 John 4:20-21). In fact John goes as far as to say that if we claim to love God but not our fellow man then we are lairs. It’s a bold statement of faith but oh so very true!

    It makes my heart ache when I see good Christian folk mislead by anger, resentment, and fear. I think that the lesson of the Greatest Commandment should be taught side by side with the parable of the Vineyard. Because I feel like a lot of that anger and resentment people are consumed with steams from that parable.

    In the past I myself have attempted to place limits on Gods love…but I was a fool to think such a thing possible! My finite human understanding of love attempted to define God’s Infinite love by human characteristics. Even though Jesus is the human face of God, the purity of His love is still way beyond our understanding.

    I think this is where the fear for some folks comes from. Not the healthy reverence for God but the fear of failure. I believe that if we fear failing then we are attempting to define God’s Infinite love by human standards; which just isn’t possible.

    I can go on and on with this topic so let me end my rant by stating the obvious. If we hold Jesus’ Greatest Commandment above all else, then we can’t be to far from the Kingdom of God and Amen to that!

  2. avatar Byron says:

    Amen to that is right! Thanks for the rant.

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