We've all heard the statement "Christianity is a relationship, not a religion," to the point that it has turned into a cliche that we have all gotten used to. However, the point of Christianity is not really about the relationship, but about the Christ that we build a relationship with, and there is a huge difference.
In one sense, the idea that Christianity is really a relationship and not a religion is politically correct in that the sole message of Christianity is a God who reaches out to the point of ultimate sacrifice so that we may commune with Him.
God calls us not to a set of religious rules or practices but to a relationship that will inspire us to obey his laws and decrees as we progressively become transformed from inside out. However, the idea of Christianity as a relationship and not a religion can be a dangerous idea if taken completely out of context.
In many circles all across the globe, this is what's happening. Here is how we take "Christianity is a relationship, not a religion" out of context and how we can realign our beliefs to continue to honor Christ.
When we forget that we have a role to play
Christianity is indeed strongly dependent on a relationship, but that doesn't mean that there are no longer any rules and regulations. A relationship cannot thrive without boundaries and expectations. That's not to say that we fulfill those roles on our own, because the Bible tells us in Romans 3:23, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
But the Bible also says in Titus 2:11-12 that "For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age." We have a role to play, and though we cannot completely fulfill it, we need to depend on God's Spirit to also be transformed from glory to glory.
When we think we are the center of the relationship
Christianity is indeed strongly dependent on a relationship, but we are not the center of that relationship. Jesus remains the sole star in this love story and we are simply recipients of His love and grace.
When we forget the essence of Christ
Christianity is indeed strongly dependent on a relationship, but it is centered on the person and work of Jesus Christ. We must honor and glorify the name of Jesus, and not ourselves. Too much of "Christianity is a relationship" focuses on turning man into a rockstar because "God loves us," and it's true that He does!
But be reminded always that God loves us not because we deserve His love, but because He gives it freely anyways. The grace and love of Jesus must be glorified in our lives, not ourselves.