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Are You Seeking Religion or Relationship?

Are You Seeking Religion or Relationship?

The Hebrew word for faith is אמונה (emunahStrong’s #530) and is an action-oriented word meaning “support”. Our Western concept of faith places the action on the one you have faith in, such as “faith in God.” But the Hebrew word places the action on the one who “supports God.”

Emunah means faithfulness, persistent determination, holding steady, holding firm, holding true to what is true: the faithfulness of God. Our readiness to fully devote our lives to the service of God and sacrifice our life for the sake of God is the expression of our emunah in God.

Emunah presumes a relationship with God. Where one is aware of such a relationship, is forever changed by it, this special relationship cannot be fully articulated. Emunah Shlemah is a complete faith; it is more than intellectual, but gained with your whole being, as in “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)

Emunah means to believe in the truthfulness of a person as well as having emotional trust in a person. In the desert, the children of Israel complained that God took them out there to kill them. God said that they did not have emunah. (Deut. 9:23, Ps. 78:37). They did not trust God.

Trust is Grossly Underestimated

Trust (faith, emunah) is important in every relationship we have. Trust betrayed can destroy friendships, marriages, businesses, and governments. Trust is grossly underestimated. It impacts us daily, not only in our relationship with God, but with every relationship and every endeavor in which we are occupied. Trust affects our homeschooling.

When faith is developed it has the potential to create deeper relationships. Our righteousness that comes from God is by faith. God wants committed faithfulness and emotional trust in him. God wants a relationship with us. He wants to dwell with us. He sent his Son to die on the cross so that we could have a relationship with Him.

God Wants a Relationship With Us

God seeks an intimate, loving relationship with his children. Like the other fruits of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control) faith is in ategory of relationship. The fruit in our life is from our relationship with God.

This faith involves decisions and has to be renewed regularly. Faith is response in relationship; it is an ongoing thing, a process. We continually receive faith as a gift, like manna.

We are amazed to hear the stories of Israel losing trust in God again and again, resulting in disobedience and sin. However, we do the same thing each time we lose faith in God.

Faith develops in the context of our ongoing relationship with God. We can easily relate to being a child of God or a servant of God, but find it hard to grasp being a friend of God. God desires to establish a connection, an association, an affiliation, a very special link and bond between Himself and His children.

Faith and Kindness

Another fruit of the Spirit is kindness. In Hebrew the word for kindness is chesed. Dyight Pyror’s article on Abraham speaks of the faith (emunah) and kindness (chesed) of God:

Faithfulness, or emunah, is one of the most treasured and trusted character traits of God Himself.

O LORD God of hosts, who is like Thee, O mighty LORD? Thy faithfulness (emunah) surrounds Thee” (Ps. 89:8 NASB).

On the last day of his life, Moses declares in prophetic utterance:

For I proclaim the name of the LORD [YHWH]; Ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock! His work is perfect, For all His ways are just; A God of faithfulness (El emunah) and without injustice, Righteous and upright is He” (Dt. 32:3-4 ).

Even in the midst of God’s terrible judgment upon His rebellious children and even Jerusalem itself, the grieving prophet Jeremiah can find comfort in God’s covenant loyalty and faithfulness.

This I recall to my mind, Therefore I have hope. The LORD’S lovingkindnesses (chesed) indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Thy faithfulness (emunah). (Lam. 3:21-23).

That God’s chesed and His emunah often are joined together in Scripture is not surprising. Chesed is the Hebrew concept that speaks of God’s grace in seeking us out and initiating covenant with us, and then His loyalty and fidelity to the covenant so joined. Though Israel be fickle, He remains faithful because He is a God who abounds in chesed v’emunah.

What are We Seeking? Religion or Relationship?

God does not want a people who simply adhere to a set of rules, no matter how well intended. God said in the book of Hosea, “For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (Hosea 6:6 ).

Sacrifices meant nothing because their hearts were unfaithful to God. God wants obedience and not sacrifice (1 Sam. 15:22); mercy and not religious rituals.

God longs for our devotion and loyalty. Do we depend on God or religion? Do we feel comfortable because we read the right Bible version or stay away from movies? How about the attitude, “I don’t drink, smoke, cuss, or chew, or go with girls who do”?

The Pharisees practiced the ultimate in religious behavior. They extended the laws of God and added their own, resulting in legalism. Their desire to follow the law made them blind to the better thing. Jesus said godly behavior starts from the heart and extends outward.

God wants a relationship and He even provides the faith (emunah) through His Holy Spirit which will bring forth appropriate actions to develop that relationship. What a God!

 

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About Robin Sampson

5 comments

  1. Wow! Thanks for this post. When I get a chance this evening I’m going to post a link to this post and some things on my heart. I love this place Robin! Thanks so much for all you share!

    ~Sheila
    http://www.timothymoms.blogspot.com

    Sheila’s last blog post..Proverbs 31: The momma’s burden perspective- A prayer for how they’ll see women.

  2. Georgette

    Ditto, ditto, and ditto again Robin!

    You have hit a nail right on the head when you say that the Pharisees were the ultimate in religious behavior! Yet for all their learning, they couldn’t/didn’t recognize the Messiah even though he was standing right in front of them. It really does make us have to ask if we are seeking a religion or a Relationship!

    I love your example of the Hebrew word emunah. I don’t think many realize Hebrew is a very action-oriented language. I’d like to mention two books found on your web site for those who are further interested in this topic: Gospel according to Moses: What My Jewish Friends Taught Me about Jesus, and Assumptions That Affect Our Lives. I have also been told that the Hebrew word for repentance means to do a literal turning away from. Now when I hear the word repent, I picture someone physically doing a 180 degree turn. How many of us have simply confess our sin, and just asked G^D to forgive?

    Shalom,
    Gette

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