August 26, 2014

Losing My Religion/This One Goes Out to The One I Love

There was a time when I was caught up in religion. A time that reading about Jesus in the Gospels made me feel uncomfortable. Looking back, I can see that it was Jesus I didn't like. Bizarre. I called myself a Christian and I think I was a Christian. I knew, accepted and thanked Jesus for dying in my place. I just didn't relate to him. When I read about him in the Gospel accountings, he rocked my world, and I did not like it, so I didn't read the gospels. My structure, my holiness, my piety, everything I was living for, he pretty much spoke against. I was holding tightly to my godliness, unwilling to loosen my grip. I was afraid of the world and did not understand the power of God.

The power of God to not only set the sinner free, but to break the bondage of religion too. I was set free from the power of sin in my life years ago, but in it's place I became enslaved to religion.

Today? Today as I sit before JESUS, I am rejoicing because I AM FREE. The chains of religion he loosened, they have fallen to the ground. I am free. Free to dance and sing and laugh and cry. I LOVE JESUS. It was Jesus who set me free from godless religion. The bondage of religion was stronger, much stronger than any other sin I have ever been enslaved to. Religion can be sin. Walking away from my old life was easy compared to getting out of the murky, mucky mire of godless religion.

How do you know if you are godlessly religious? Here are a few examples from my experience;

You probably tithe, give to mission work, serve faithfully at church, pray and read your Bible, a lot, but, you have a disdain for people that are not 'pressing into' the kingdom like you are.
You might look down on people with problems.
You probably separate yourself from most of humanity.
You have a mental list of things you can't touch, lest you are defiled.
You shelter your children from the world, to the point that they have trouble relating to other children their age
You can't relate to people, saved or unsaved.
You want to forget your past. Pretend that you were never the person you were before you became a Christian.

This is a partial list and I'm not saying that all of these things are wrong or bad, some of them are, and for some it depends on your motive and attitude.

Basically, if your faith is all about you, all about your children, all about your family, all about loving God with all of your heart, strength, soul, and mind, but forgetting the second equally important half of that command, to love your neighbor as yourself, then you are enslaved to godless religion.

If you expect people to do or be anything in order to be a Christian, anything aside from repentance and acceptance of God's LOVE FOR THEM, then you are stuck in the murky mire of religion. And only Jesus can set you free.

Freedom for me came when I spent a year reading mainly the Gospels. Learning to know and love Jesus. He is not what the church generally represents him to be. He is anything, anything, but godlessly religious. When I began to read about him and pray and meditate, I began to realize that he spent the majority of his time with the people that I was trying so hard to avoid, lest I be influenced and led astray. Seriously. I'm not joking. As I read, I was the pharisee that he rebuked over and over, and I cried a lot as I fearfully began to loosen my grip on my ideas, and gradually allowed him to replace them with his LOVE.

You see, it is the vertical love of God flowing from God to us, and us back to God, that when we fully comprehend its implications, and we begin to understand how crazy and unpractical and scandalous it really is, when we start to get that, then we can't help but be a vessel that he uses for that love to flow to humanity, all around us. We are the way he reaches the hearts of humanity. Horizontally, his love flows through us. And that is crazy, unbelievable, amazing grace. And I get a picture of the cross.

Religion will never accomplish God's will on this earth. Only love can do that.

Love,
Renee 


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