A week ago, at 5:30 in the morning, I was on the porch of a cabin at our Fall Youth Retreat snuggled under a sleeping bag (I forgot a jacket) enjoying the quiet early morning.
It was a noisy crazy weekend so the quiet stillness of the early morning was like heaven.
I soaked up the sights of the slowly brightening sky while I absorbed the Word of God through the Bible.
Sounds pretty religious, huh?
The fact of the matter is,
I hate religion!
Okay, now I’m being harsh, but maybe I need to be. I mean, I can appreciate the amazing art inspired by religion. I certainly appreciate the generosity and benevolence inspired by religion.
But I hate it.
Specifically, I hate that religion has fooled millions into trying to earn their way into heaven.
This was a major topic of discussion between me and the 6th grade boys at the retreat. I am blessed with a group of kids that grew up going to church all their lives. They were very good at giving nice religious answers to my questions.
The challenge for me is to get their brains wrapped around the wonder and joy and life there is in trusting Jesus.
I grew up in church. A very religious church. I didn’t see that wonder until much later.
From an early age, I felt like there must be more than just obeying a bunch of rules.
Mind you, I was very good at obeying the rules, or at least making people think I was obeying the rules.
But, like every human, I didn’t obey them all the time. I always had this nagging feeling that I wasn’t being quite good enough.
Like the dawn that I enjoyed last week, the truth slowly crept up on me.
As I proceeded through life and through a variety of churches, I began to realize that my good would never completely erase my bad. Life began to turn upside down. Instead of relying on my good, I began to rely on my God.
- My God came as a human (Jesus) to intervene for humanity.
- My God took on the judgement for my bad behavior.
- My God made the ultimate sacrifice so that His good would outweigh my bad.
- My God loves me as a Father who would do anything to have His kids with Him for eternity.
- My God gave commands not to stifle my freedom but to help me live in freedom.
- My God doesn’t force me to obey but rejoices when I make wise decisions.
- My God welcomes me with the greatest love of all time.
– My God is love! (1 John 4:8)
It is no coincidence that I love leading youth at camp. It was at a camp just over 44 years ago that I began my journey of faith in earnest.
What made me turn the corner was the love of God I saw in the people at that camp poured out on the campers and each other.
So the next time you’re tempted to call me religious, remember that I hate religion.
But I love God!
Do you hate religion? What about the Church? More importantly, what about God? Let’s talk about it. Feel free to comment below or on the Facebook and Instagram posts.