Christianity: Religion or Relationship?

.... The only time Christianity refers to itself as a ‘religion’ is James 1:26-27:
.... "If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one's religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world."
.... Religion is an outward discipline. It is a relationship with the world, helping where possible but also remaining aloof from its vices. It is practiced before God, with a consciousness toward Him. Under this definition we would honestly have to say that there is a religious side to Christianity (see Matt 25:31-46). But this is inadequate for describing the core of the Christian faith:

.... "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent."

(John 17:3)

.... Christianity is about our relationship with God through Christ, and it is through knowing Jesus that our godly conduct flows. Think of Him as the vine, and ourselves as the branches, and through us He bears much fruit – including, but not limited to, the fruit of pure religion that James mentions. For without Jesus we can do nothing (John 15:5).

.... Therefore, at its heart, Christianity is a Divine relationship; but some of its pure, undefiled fruit is what man might call ‘religion’.