Anybody ever had a "run-in" with people in "the church, or "the temple", or "the synagogue", or "the mosque" and walked away feeling condemned, no good, judged, and like you had leprosy? Well, you probably had a run in with "Religion", not with God. In fact, if you have had enough "run-in's" with "Religion", you would probably be very unlikely to think very highly about God and about having a relationship with Him.
In my own life and history with God and Religion, I spent the first 10 years of life, from 0 to 10, going to the Church of Christ. What I learned (not necessarily what I was taught) was that God is up in Heaven, and I am down on planet earth. God was an angry God who had lighting bolts that he was ready to hurl at me and fry my backside should I mess up and fall into "sin". Of course, with this belief system in place, I had no desire to go to church or know more about God. Nevertheless, what I had was a "relationship with a church" which told me about God thru a rather negative lens.
At the age of about 11yrs old, the family switched churches and we went to an Episcopal church. There I learned that God was a "big warm fuzzy" in the sky who loved everything, and I was on earth alone dealing with my alcoholic mom not sure why God was not intervening. After all, I was going to his church and was an acolyte (alter boy) there. At this church too, I had a relationship with the church who told me about God thru a very positive lens and yet did little to teach me to connect with Him. Even though I learned that God was good, His goodness was not helping my life on earth to become better nor solving my real life problems!
By the time I was 26 years old, I thought I knew all about God, even though I knew only a little about His Word and about Him. I did know quite a lot about His people in His religious churches - some were nice, some were phonies, and a very few had this beautiful love flowing out of them . . . which I did not really understand other than thinking they were just nice people.
One day in July 1985 though, my life changed when I went from "Religion" which equals having a relationship with a church that tells you about God, to having a relationship directly with God thru His Son Jesus Christ, by His Holy Spirit. This is not "Religion", but true salvation and abundant life. That day my life changed, and I discovered the real supernatural God that exists, and how He wants to have a relationship with you thru His Son by His Holy Spirit. All of a sudden "God stuff" became real in my life as did miracles happening around me as well as answers to prayer. Also, the Bible which I had tried to read several times thru out my life, but found it intolerably boring and dead, suddenly became "alive" and was like food. I read the whole Bible in 3 months after coming into relationship with God. I realize now the Bible was not "dead", instead I was dead to the Bible.
When my spiritual awakening occurred, I realized, that all my life, I had had a relationship with the "churches of God" instead of with God direct. Religion which is full of rules always brings condemnation and ultimately death to the person. True relationship with God brings love, peace, joy, and much much more! Anything else is NOT GOD!
Don't let your past run-in's with Religion keep you from the Real Life that is found "in relationship with God". He is waiting for you to call Him, one touch from Him will transform your life! Don't let RELIGION block you from the abundant life that is yours thru a relationship with the One True God. For me, that is Jehova Adonai whose son is Yeshua a.k.a. Jesus Christ! Look forward to your comments! God bless you! CJD
Christopher James Daniel, LPC.