“This Bible! So many rules!” This is the mindset I had several years ago. As I was being introduced to the Lord and learning about His Word, everything that I was reading was about a bunch of rules, and how I did not measure up. I would read, go to a “church” that constantly reminded of how imperfect I was, and beat myself to a pulp! This wonderful Christian life that I was desperately wanting to grow in was becoming a really terrible experience.
I really didn’t understand the Lord? I mean, if God is so loving, then why did I feel so bad? Why did I go to church, read the Bible, have scheduled study times with my family, show up for church on Sunday, with Sunday school first, go back to church Sunday night, go to church Wednesday night, show up for prayer group, beg for forgiveness before turning in for the evening, and still feel like a terrible human being?
Religion. That’s why.
I have a kid who is very talented. He works very hard at accomplishing many things. He is athletic, plays multiple musical instruments, builds intricate pieces of many types and plays his games on PS4 like a pro. He is creative. Loving. He puts up with a lot of flak at school, but still keeps his head together. Of course, his mother and I guide him when he needs it. I believe that he also knows the Lord. Even though he is an overall good kid, he is still is a button pusher. A picker. He likes to cause mischief within the house. He will pick on his brother or sister until they are red in the face, and just laugh like it is the greatest thing in the world! We have house rules, and sometimes they are not followed. We have subtle punishments for the kids if they continuously break these rules, and even then, our rules are sometimes broken immediately after they were punished! Their mother and I always keep in mind, through all of their torturous ways of killing us softly, that they are just children. They are growing. They love us, and we love them.
We are God’s children. We are also growing. We also pick. We also break the rules. It is so hard to see abusive Christ-followers use the Lord in a way that falsely teaches others that by not obeying rules, that God is mad at them. They missed a day at a church, or they drank a beer, or they had something to say to the pastor that wasn’t what he wanted to hear. We are so terrible in a church leader’s eyes, so now we need to be pulled into his office and chastised for being a rebellious sinner? We need to be removed from our duties at the church because we aren’t performing the way the leaders would like?
It is hard for me to even write this. Honestly. I have been abused by so-called “Godly men” so many times. It was not until I began to seek a relationship with the Lord, much like the same relationship that I seek with my own children, did I understand that my walk with God is not about rules. It is about mutual love and respect, with room for error, because no one is perfect. No one fully keeps their own rules, house rules, or even His rules. We are very flawed beings, not perfectly polished like the religious folks. It would be nice if the pride of men was removed from the groups that gather in buildings, and men began to teach relationship with God instead of religious heresies that only tear people apart. It would be wonderful if one of the first things taught by men was the true definition of ekklesia, as well as what Jesus has done to sin. He removed it, so we could live, so we could grow, and learn. It would be nice if the world would teach their children about grace and love, and model the Lord’s true definition of both. There is a reason why not many should be teachers (James 3), because their lack of His knowledge, emphasis of their own knowledge and the pride that men possess causes religion to reign. It really distorts the truth of our loving Father. It makes people, like myself at the beginning of my walk, into modern-day Pharisees. Not very loving, and not very capable of fruitful relationships.