Better Than Religion

The LORD has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations. He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of God. (Psalm 98:2-3, ESV)

When I am doing mindless computer work, I like to stream a TV drama in the background. I pay attention just enough to keep up with the storyline, but I don’t have to fully engage in every detail. (Wouldn’t it be great if playing golf could be like that?)

Recently, I was clicking away at my keyboard when I heard, “Everyone has a religion, but not everyone has a God.” I stopped and lunged for my iPad to hit rewind. “Everyone has a religion, but not everyone has a God.” Profound.

Maybe my ears were more sensitive because disappointment was still lingering after missing the cut at the LPGA Senior Championship. I didn’t prepare for the event adequately, but my expectations still elevated as if I was back on tour. Competitive golf sways my heart to believe I need to perform for my worth and acceptance (religion), instead of playing with freedom and enjoying the opportunity to be with long-time tour friends (relationship).

I have wrestled between religion and a relationship with God throughout my 30-year spiritual journey. Golf, along with things such as social status, money, political views, social media, and even Bible knowledge, can become a religion when it is the source for where we find our significance, delight, worth, and acceptance.

I long for relationship with God, and yet the evil one pulls me back to religion. There are days when I doubt and have unbelief. I wonder if God is real and why life is so hard. I get run down and emotionally tired. I strive for perfection, doing right, and doing more. Religion.

The poetic words of the psalmist reminded me today of what is true. God has made known his salvation. God has revealed himself. God has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to his people (to us). All nations have seen the salvation of God. God is not aloof; he is actively reaching toward us to be our God, our Father. I don’t have to shoot under par or be perfect for his love. He loves me, and you, unconditionally. Relationship.

We see evidence of this pursuit of relationship every time we read the word salvation in the Old Testament scriptures. The Hebrew word is y esuah and means salvation, deliverance, help, victory, prosperity. God is so attuned to the details of his story, that the name he gave his son is the very word that translates to y esuah in its Hebrew Origin. Profound!

Jesus means Jehovah is salvation. And through salvation we have relationship with God.

I want God, not religion. How about you?

Tracy Hanson
October 31, 2019
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