I know, strange word, but it seems to sum up what has happened to Christianity over the many centuries since Jesus went back to heaven.
Remember some of the things Jesus said? He talked about worshiping God in spirit and truth instead of buildings; about how to relate to God (as children to their own father instead of a distant deity to be appeased); about treating others as equal or better than ourselves. The early believers met in homes and shared their lives. The writings of the apostles are filled with practical advice as well as both warning and encouragement, but the overall message is about The Relationship. And that is the absolute crux of salvation:
2 Cor. 5:17-20 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.Do you get the impression that salvation has something to do with being reconciled to God?
In fact, it’s the whole thing; it’s what being a Christian means. Everything else deals with the implications of that restored relationship:
2 Cor. 5:9a So we make it our goal to please him...Pleasing the One who died for us should be all the motivation we need. Instead of lists of “do nots” we now have one “do”: please God. Whatever makes Him happy, do that; whatever makes Him sad or mad, don’t do that. Very simple. Speaking of motivation, the flip side is told by James:
James 4:3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.What is it people come to God for? And what drives them after they come to Him? The answers to those questions are literally a matter of life and death! We must come to God in faith, trusting in Jesus and accepting Him as the God who died for us and rose again, who holds out his arms to us with the offer of reconciliation. And then we must be driven, not by greed for treasures either here or hereafter, but by love for God, by wanting to please Him, by living as though we really have been reconciled.