Advent Reflection: Is Religion About Rules or Relationship?

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Moses went up to the mountain of God.

Then the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying: “This is what you will say to the house of Jacob; tell the Israelites: You have seen how I treated the Egyptians and how I bore you up on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now, if you obey me completely and keep my covenant, you will be my treasured possession among all peoples, though all the earth is mine. You will be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation. That is what you must tell the Israelites.”

Exodus 19:3-6

God invites you to be his treasured possession. Close your eyes and rest in God’s love for you.

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Going Deeper

Read Exodus 20:1-21.

Some people complain that organized religion is just a bunch of rules, designed to restrict our freedoms and make us conform to some person’s idea of perfection. God does give us some rules to follow, but those rules are not designed to constrain us. They are designed to free us to have a genuine, intimate relationship with God.

Relationships only work if they are guided by rules. These rules may not be spoken or written down, but everyone understands them. In a friendship, it is expected that one person will not share the other person’s secrets. In a parent-child relationship, the parent will protect the child from danger. In a committed romantic relationship, the partners will not pursue other love interests. If someone is unable or unwilling to follow the rules of the relationship, the relationship will fall apart.

The same applies to our relationship with God. If we follow certain rules, we will be able to draw closer to God. And God doesn’t make us figure out those rules on our own. He gives us the Bible, especially the commandments and Jesus’ teachings, to help us learn how to live.

Read Exodus 20:2-17 again, slowly. Does your life reflect the Ten Commandments? Choose one commandment that you struggle with. What can you do for the rest of Advent to more closely follow that commandment?

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