For too long many of us have embraced a secondhand religion that is based on believing certain doctrines and defending traditions of our faith.
This secondhand religion is based on what we have heard from others - our parents, our family, our church - about who God is what God is like. It defines Christianity, and the Christian life, as nothing more than believing what the Bible says [or what our denomination or church tells us it says].
But the time is ripe for us to shed this dead religion in favor of a more vibrant and living relationship with a person - not a book or a creed or a statement of faith - but a God "in whom we live and move and have our being."
This is firsthand faith. In contrast to secondhand religion, firsthand faith is about an actual relationship with the person that the Bible points to. It's about knowing God and His Son in an intimate way.
All through the Gospels Jesus urges us to abandon the perceived safety of religious information gathering to the truly abundant life found only by abiding in Him.
We are called into an intimacy with God that is scandalous and breath-taking. [Matt. 6:9]
He is our "Papa" and we are His children. [1 John 3:1]
He invites us to draw near. [James 4:8]
He wants to make His home in us. [John 14:23]
He wants us to experience an intimacy with Him that compares to the union of a husband and wife. [Eph. 5:32]
He wants us to experience a "knowing" of Himself that conceives something within us. [John 17:3]
What this intimacy conceives in us is a new life that comes only from our close connection with Himself. [2 Cor. 5:17; Rev. 21:5]
The sad thing is, too many of those who profess themselves to be Christians are not experiencing Christ in this way. They have not yet moved from secondhand religion into a firsthand knowledge of God where His voice is heard, His mind is known, and His heartbeat becomes synced with their own.
Secondhand religion leads to a life of anxiety, fear and stress.
Firsthand faith leads to a life of joy, hope, peace and confidence based on our connection to God.
If you're still stuck in a secondhand religion, I invite you to begin moving into a firsthand experience of God through the Spirit of Christ.
It can be as simple as taking some time to sit quietly alone with the Lord and whispering a prayer to Him, asking for a deeper experience of His presence; being still to know that He is God.
It won't happen all at once, but if you are serious about abandoning your secondhand religion in order to enter into firsthand knowledge of God, you will be rewarded.
"...they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after Him and find Him, although He is not far from each one of us." [Acts 17:27]
"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after God, for they shall be filled....Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." [Matt. 5:6;8]