Someone said to me that their hometown was still living in the past. Maybe not in those exact words but expressed her dislike of the old-fashioned way of thinking–racism, hate, religion.

And quite honestly, I agree with her. I don’t like those things either.

You might say, “but religion? You don’t like religion?”

That’s right, I don’t.

Religion, to me, is about following rules, formalities, legalism, traditions–You must do this or you must not do that.

But, faith now, is a different matter.  My faith is about love, hope, freedom and forgiveness. Those are things you can only find in a relationship(not a religion) with Jesus.

Jesus himself broke the “rules” of the religion:

John 4

7When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8(His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

9The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.[a])

10Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

Mark 2

3Some men came, bringing to him a paralytic, carried by four of them. 4Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus and, after digging through it, lowered the mat the paralyzed man was lying on. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

6Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7“Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

AND

15While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the “sinners” and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”

17On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

AND

23One Sabbath Jesus was going through the grainfields, and as his disciples walked along, they began to pick some heads of grain. 24The Pharisees said to him, “Look, why are they doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath?”

Galatians 2

11When Peter came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he was clearly in the wrong. 12Before certain men came from James, he used to eat with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he began to draw back and separate himself from the Gentiles because he was afraid of those who belonged to the circumcision group. 13The other Jews joined him in his hypocrisy, so that by their hypocrisy even Barnabas was led astray.

14When I saw that they were not acting in line with the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter in front of them all, “You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?

15“We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ 16know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.

17“If, while we seek to be justified in Christ, it becomes evident that we ourselves are sinners, does that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18If I rebuild what I destroyed, I prove that I am a lawbreaker. 19For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”[d]

Galatians 5:13-15 (New International Version)

13You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature[a]; rather, serve one another in love. 14The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”[b] 15If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.

And Jesus said:

John 8:36
So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

John 10:9-11 (New International Version)

9I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

11“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

Okay, so do you have a religion or a relationship? No amount of “right living” will ever earn you the freedom and forgiveness you can find in a relationship with Christ.