“Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way.
1 King 8:23 (NIV)
I become a teenager in the 80s, ok in the last year of it, but I think it still counts. While late to the game, my understanding of its opulent pop culture is pretty vast as I did live vicariously through my older sister.
Sometimes as I read God’s Word, infamous scenes from bubblegum flicks or lyrics from MTV gems “pop” into my head. Does that happen to you? I am not sure why it happens but I can only guess that it is God’s way of keeping His message relevant to me.
My wife often laments that she can’t keep track of my train of thought; honestly sometimes I can’t either. I had one while reading and unpacking 1 Kings 8:23. It mentions the “covenant of love” and you guessed it, I immediately thought of Huey Lewis! That led me on a search for what God is showing me. I came to this:
You don’t need money, don’t take fame
Power of Love – Huey Lewis
Don’t need no credit card to ride this train
I see a TO DON’T list in the wisdom this verse lays out. God was saying to me that there is nothing in the way of what He has for me. We don’t have to do a single thing for God to love us.
Last week, a person commented on a link of this blog that they “aren’t religious” and that they “don’t need religion.” I am sure they were hoping to offend me, as many keyboard warriors propose. I probably shocked her and will possibly some of you. I said that I agreed with her. Religion sucks; being religious is pointless. At this venture my readers, you are going, but wait, you write about God? use scripture? teach His word? You are correct. I think those things have nothing to do with religion. It is of my opinion that:
…MAN’S MISINTERPRETATION OF A RELATIONSHIP WITH JESUS;
BEING RELIGIOUS IS…
…JUST REPEATEDLY ACTING OUT THOSE MISINTERPRETATIONS FOR THE SAKE OF MAN, NOT FOR THE GLORY OF GOD.
Some may be cheering and some may be jeering by now. I get it. Habits, even when they seem good are hard break. Some may even believe they were divine because someone told them it was in the Bible. Change is hard.
I know a beautiful soul who refuses to come to my church because it may offend her long dead Irish parents, but she doesn’t attend any church! Due to religion (instead of relationship) she thinks that she will feel some wrath. Since the message won’t take place in an ornate cathedral or that some systematic routine created by man won’t repetitiously be performed, she will anger her parents. I just keep praying and asking God to soften her heart and open her mind, eyes, and ears to His truth, and that she lays aside the guilt man lays on for not following made up rules.
My buddy and I used to play Nintendo (not Switch or Wii, but the real deal original). There was one game back in ’80s called Contra. The cool part about Contra was that you could achieve unlimited lives by pushing the following sequence on the controller:
UP, UP, DOWN, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT,
LEFT, RIGHT, B, A, B, A, START
When you did the ritual, you always won the game, no matter what. All you had to do was follow a pattern programmed by man, to achieve infinite lives. Thankfully, God is not like that. He just wants to love and be loved. There is no sequence to follow to achieve our eternity but in that of His great grace and providence we get it.
Because of this “covenant of love” and the power that comes with it, we need NOT have to:
- jump through hoops
- perform calisthenics
- stand on one foot on a Tuesday for 5 minutes while reciting the Lord’s Prayer
- wait in line to be forgiven
- only go to a church to pray
- be afraid of God
- keep the Good News to ourselves
- pass a religion down as if it was an inheritance
- and so on
Because of this “covenant of love” and the power that comes with it, we GET to:
- experience His presence ANYWHERE
- let ANYONE pray for us ANYWAY, ANYWHERE
- experience FELLOWSHIP
- be FORGIVEN and FORGIVE others on our own
- live a life of JOY & PEACE
- instill the love God has into the next generation
- understand GRACE
- bless others
- share the GOSPEL
- know GOD in a relevant way
- talk to the one and only intercessor, JESUS
- live life ETERNAL
- and much more
There is so much freedom by not being religious. In Philippians 3, Paul warns us of “those dogs” and that they spread a TO DO lists instead of RELATIONSHIPS. Elliot’s Commentary defines the “dogs” as the Judaizing party. These Judaizers, along with the Pharisees were religious. It was crimes against so-called religion that put Jesus on the cross. Why would I want to lay claim to being part of an institution that places things in the way of a meaningful covenantal love with our Creator?
Now, some may be saying “but what about…?” Yep, there are things we should do daily: pray, be in His word, fellowship, and share the Gospel. However, those are things that become GET TO DOs and not HAVE TO DOs…there is a huge difference.
I leave religion in the dust and put my faith in relationship. You should too. Think about this: a loving relationship inspires us to do more for the other, to get to know, and to grow. That is exactly what God wants in this Power of Love oops, sorry my train of thought again… I meant Covenant of Love.
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I can only grow, when I know
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