What does God want? Peter Sammons reflects.

Mankind and his religions

Mankind loves a good religion! A religion tends to ‘cushion’ any relationship with the divine and allow mankind to hide (so he thinks) behind rules, regulations, reproach – and even rage. The key thing about any ‘religion’ is that it provides a framework for earning reward (salvation?) by keeping your selected deity ‘happy’ through the observance of religious rites and recanting of religious wrongs. Is it an attempt to bribe the selected ‘god’?

In a religion there is no room, or need, for a Servant King, or for a God Who gives what is most precious to Him. The idea of a God Who gives His one and only Son for worthless rebels is largely repugnant to Mankind, whose pride is pricked by the very idea that he is so beyond redemption by his own efforts, he is so filthy and so spiritually distant, that only through God’s Own positive intervention can any man (and of course this is gender neutral, we are of course talking male and female, here) be saved.

Readers may get the impression that I’m rather anti-religion. Indeed I am! I have for a number of years been reminding folk whenever I have opportunity that true, Biblical Christianity is not so much a religion as a relationship. Specifically it is the relationship of penitent sinner to Saviour God.

Loose translation

The word “religion” entered the English language in the 13th Century, and was used to refer to a life regulated my monastic vows. Derived from the Latin word ‘religio’, it has an uncertain meaning. Some scholars posit that it means binding oneself to God. Others suggest it originally referred to anxiety, inhibition and a sense of duty in everyday life. ‘Religio’ does not directly correspond to any Greek or Hebrew word; we should note, then, that wherever this word is found in English Bible translations, it is used in a somewhat loose way.

So what do people really want – and what does God want? I’d say that God’s highest purpose is to build for Himself a family, and that implies relationship. He has demonstrated how He will achieve this – by giving His Son for us. Pure and simple! VERY pure! And very straightforward.

Do Men want a relationship based on the finished work of Jesus? By and large the answer is ‘no’. But what do you get if you compare ‘religion’ with relationship? This schematic suggests an answer:

A religion is a burden. A relationship is a joy – or it should be!


The following is so good I decided to ‘re-tweet’ it. It comes from a piece by Patrick Sookhdeo of Barnabas Aid magazine (September 2022). I’ve edited it slightly to reduce length but think I’ve done it justice:

The Old Testament does not mention religion but often speaks of a faith-filled response to God as “The Fear of the Lord” or “the fear of God”. This means standing in awe of God. To fear Him is to recognize His greatness, His power and authority, His supremacy over us, but also His holiness and matchless purity. It is the reaction of Isaiah who cried “Woe to me” when he saw the Lord, high and lifted up, with the Seraphim singing “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God of hosts. The whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6: 1-5).

 From the Old Testament we learn that anyone could be right with God on this basis. Job was not Jewish, yet he feared God and was praised by God for this (Job 1:1, 8). However in the New Testament this changes dramatically – the substitutionary death, atoning work and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ become pivotal to our faith.

As our opening schematic (header) reminds is, at the Cross of crucifixion Jesus gives us His righteousness. In return we give Him our sins. So we are made right with God, on the basis of Jesus’ blood shed on the Cross. It is of course an unequal exchange. But it is an eternal exchange. He has paid our debt ……

Jew and Gentile

The transaction is precisely the same for a Jew and for a Gentile, albeit their starting points may be rather different. This schematic explores the idea

Religion or peace?

Readers may, of course, check out the above at their own leisure, and are encouraged to do so. But to get the full import of what I’m trying to say, they might want to read my short book “The Prince of Peace” which is freely available here as a downloadable PDF:


So, religion or relationship? It’s a basic choice for Mankind. It’s a personal choice for every man, woman or child of every era. Sooner or later we have to answer the question Jesus Himself has posed: Who do YOU say I am? (Matthew 16:13). ‘You can run, but you can’t hide’ (a line from “Top Gun”!). This is one question that is answered in this life, or finally in the next. Dodge it in this life. But you still have to face it in death.


Peter Sammons is commissioning editor at Christian Comment. He is author of “The Empty Promise of Godism” which explores the ‘churches’ clear design to meld with other ‘religions’ of the world, following “god” as they see it, but minimizing the truth of the Cross. https://christian-publications-int.com/default-47.html?ID=87 .

He also wrote “The Messiah Pattern” which explores the Hebrew feasts of Leviticus. https://christian-publications-int.com/default-23.html?ID=142