If you were to go around and ask random people on the street to describe what they think it means to be a Christian, there's a good chance that many of their answers would say something like "to be religious." But...if you were to go around asking Christians the very same question, most likely none of them would use the word religious at all. In fact, they may intentionally avoid the word altogether.
So why is that?
The reason is because being a Christian isn't actually about just trying harder to follow all the church rules and be a good person. That is exhausting. Being a Christian is really about just one thing—having a relationship with Jesus. No matter what you have done in your life, good or bad, He just wants you to know Him. Yes the bible has some important instructions on how to live your life that should be taken very seriously, but it also says in Romans 3:23 that no matter how hard you try you will never be able to hit the mark. (ALL have fallen short.)
That's why we don't just need a life coach....we need a savior.
Being a Christian means that you understand this so instead of just trying to work on a religion, you work on a relationship with Jesus. If your identity in Jesus comes first, even if you don't fully understand everything or always get it right, the rest will begin to fall into place. That is why you can be a Christian without being "religious." The bible even says that Peter and John were "ordinary uneducated men" with no special training in the scriptures (Acts 4:13). In other words, they had no religion. They just had Jesus.
An absolutely amazing picture of this was shared by Pastor Joby Martin at Eleven22 this past weekend. The sermon titled "Take Up Your Mat" describes the account of the man who had been disabled for 38 years that Jesus miraculously healed. After healing him, Jesus instructed him to pick up the dirty mat he had been laying on all those years, and carry it with him. When the man was seen by the Pharisees (religious people), instead of being excited by the fact that the man they all knew had been sick and disabled for so long was now suddenly healthy and walking around, they accused him. What did they accuse him of? Breaking a rule. They told him it was unlawful to carry a mat on the Sabbath. They were more concerned about the rules of their religion then they were about the miracle.
If just trying to follow all the church rules is what you think of when you hear the word Christianity, I beg you you to take the 45 minutes and watch this message. It could change your perspective entirely. And it might change your life.