Study Guide: Religion vs. Relationship

Sunday March 26, 2023 | Cedrick Baker

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

History shows the church has promoted violence in various forms, and many have turned away from the faith as a result. This sermon examines this issue and addresses the alternative that Jesus brings and what the church should offer the world.

Extended Summary:

Many people have problems with the church and with God because they have come to the conclusion that religion is dangerous and inherently violent. In this sermon, Cedrick Baker seeks to address why so many have come to this conclusion, explains how Jesus offers an alternative point of view and provides some practical direction.

To understand the nature of the problem, it is important to clearly define religion. Cedrick defines religion as a human construction that tries to get us to God. While the Christian religion has produced many good things, Christianity has been a part of terrible, heinous, brutal acts. This violence done in the name of religion is the root of the problem.

These brutal acts include war and bloodshed, but also injustice and wrongdoing; things like clergy sexual abuse, institutionalized violence, and racism. People have claimed to do these things under divine authority. We must admit that the universal church is guilty of violence throughout history!

The Bible is clear on how we, the church, should act when it comes to violence. A few Scriptures that make this point are:

Our job is to love at all times because Jesus is the antithesis of all of the violence, hatred and intolerance in the world. Jesus came to inaugurate a way to be in relationship with us so that we might be transformed. When we witness or hear of violence in the name of God, we are seeing the results of religion and not a true relationship with Jesus Christ. Religion will lead to violence, whereas relationship will move us away from it. Our personal relationship with God is designed to transform us into his image so that we can display the kingdom that Jesus initially inaugurated.

Reflection Questions: