Rules or Relationship

People have many different opinions on what constitutes Christianity and Janie B. Cheaney points out a couple of these differing opinions in a recent article.  Some believe Christianity is discovering the right rules God has setup for us and then following those rules  Others believe it is a personal relationship with Jesus. [1]

There are problems with both opinions.  Jesus preached against just following the rules the Pharisees and Sadducees had setup.  Jesus told a parable of a Pharisee and a tax collector who went to the temple to pray.  The Pharisee’s prayer was about how he followed all the rules of his religion:  “God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.  I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get” In contrast the tax collector just humbly admitted his failures (Luke 18:9-14).  The Pharisee followed all the right rules but Jesus said that only the tax collector was justified before God.

If we view Christianity solely as a relationship with Jesus then of what does that relationship consist?   Jesus’ disciples had a relationship with him but very few were at his crucifixion.  The vast majority of his disciples deserted him in his moment of greatest need.  What kind of a relationship is that?  Can we have a relationship with Jesus and yet do what we want, ignoring what he desires?

I believe salvation requires both following the rules Jesus has given us and a relationship with Jesus.  As Jesus states, “If you love me you will keep my commandments.”  So why does not our doctrine of salvation include both?


[1]   Janie B. Cheaney, “Lord and friend”, World Magazine, September 2, 2007, p. 14.

This entry was posted in Salvation. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *