The Difference Between Religion and Having a Personal Relationship with Jesus. 1
The Difference Between Religion and Having a Personal Relationship with Jesus: The Importance of Two-Way Communication with God and Divine Revelations
Many individuals equate being religious with having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. However, there is a critical distinction between these two concepts. In this comprehensive article, we’ll delve into the differences and underline the importance of two-way communication with God, including dreams, visions, and their correct interpretations. Biblical references will be used throughout to provide scriptural grounding.
What is Religion?
Religion refers to a set of beliefs, practices, and moral codes that a community follows to understand the divine and the world.
Religion often centers on external rituals and rules. As the Apostle Paul warns in Colossians 2:23, “These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion… but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.”
While the community can offer support, a religious framework may sometimes limit personal spiritual growth by focusing on collective rather than individual practices.
What is a Personal Relationship with Jesus?
A personal relationship with Jesus involves one-on-one communication and intimacy with Christ, much like what Jesus describes in Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”
This relationship is about inner transformation, echoing Romans 12:2, which states, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind…”
It emphasizes personal communication with God, free from the confines of ritualistic practices, aligning with what Jesus said in Matthew 6:6, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.”
Why Two-Way Communication with God is Key
Direct Access to God
Direct, two-way communication is the core of a relationship with Jesus. Hebrews 4:16 encourages us to “draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Prayer and Listening
True communication involves not just speaking but also listening. The importance of this two-way communication is emphasized in John 10:27: “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”
A personal relationship fosters authenticity, allowing us to approach God just as we are. As Hebrews 4:15-16 states, we have a high priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses.
Through communication with God, we gain wisdom and guidance, as James 1:5 assures us: “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
The Role of Dreams, Visions, and Trances
Dreams and visions have been means through which God communicates with His people. The Prophet Joel foretold in Joel 2:28, “Your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.”
Interpreting these dreams and visions correctly is crucial. In Genesis 40-41, Joseph’s ability to interpret dreams was not only a gift but also a tool God used for His divine purpose.
Trances, like the one Peter experienced in Acts 10, also serve as channels of divine communication. Such experiences should be approached with discernment and aligned with Scripture to ensure their authenticity.
Religion and a personal relationship with Jesus, while interconnected, offer different pathways to understanding God. The Bible supports the idea that an individual relationship, facilitated by two-way communication and divine revelations like dreams and visions, leads to a more profound, transformative spiritual experience.
Understanding the difference between religion and a relationship with Jesus Christ—and the importance of two-way communication, including the correct interpretation of dreams, visions, and trances—is crucial for anyone who desires a deeply fulfilling spiritual life.