Religion is a funny thing. Now, before everyone gets their panties in a wad over a misunderstanding, let me clarify myself. Religion, as in rules, regulations, laws, and so on, is a funny thing. We all grew up with some sort of religious background whether it was a church upbringing, or an anti-church upbringing. Therefore, we all have a set of beliefs that we have followed for our entire lives. This set of beliefs that we devote our entire life to is the same one that tends to tear us apart from those who have a different set of beliefs. We all were told over and over to believe this one set of beliefs, and that anyone who tried to tell us otherwise was wrong, so we should do what we can to “convert” said people from the other, here comes that tricky word, “religions”. What people aren’t stopping to ask themselves is “is there really only one RIGHT religion?”. We have been so stuck on knowing, understanding, and fully following our ONE religion, that it’s somewhat, or even completely, locked us into a very tight box. So what we’re going to do is briefly unlock that religion box, open that lid RIGHT open, and poke our heads out for a bit. Now, don’t be afraid. I’m not going to try and convince you that your religion is bad and that you’ve been wrong your whole life and that you shouldn’t believe anything that anyone tells you about church, God, or religion. But what I AM going to tell you will most likely make you a little nervous, but hopefully in a good way.
Let’s start by unlocking our box. Go ahead, grab that key that YOU OWN which is right in front of you, even though you’ve probably been told that their were monsters outside to get you if you opened your box, and turn that lock. Let’s imagine that it actually IS okay to question our religion…. GASP*!!!! NO STOP!!! I know, crazy right? But SURPRISE! it is! We’re not questioning God, that’s not what this is about at ALL! We’re questioning the religion, the set of beliefs we grew up believing, that we are part of. It’s a very difficult thing to do for two reasons. One, our initial instinct is to stop questioning because we’re afraid that we will somehow lose our faith in doing so. This is a silly reason because our faith should not be built on the people, rules, and “guidelines” of our religion. It should be built on God and God alone. The rest of the “church” stuff is simply a tool. Secondly, we don’t know how to do God without those guidelines. It’s easy to just simply do what you’re told, but what do we do when we don’t know what we should do? So lets say we’ve begun questioning our set religion, and we have found that we don’t necessarily agree with those beliefs anymore. Do we find a new religion? Do we start a new religion? What now?
That leads us to our second step. Let’s go ahead and open up our box. Don’t freak out, we’re not peeking out just yet. But don’t just slowly open it as if in fear, swing that sucker wide open! Now, let’s think of this crazy idea that maybe, just maybe, we don’t need a religion at all! AHHH!!! I know! mind blown! But seriously, what is the point of a set religion? What do you benefit from said “religion”? You have your churches rules, things they say you can and can’t do, set service times, etc.. etc.. But what do we really need those rules for? Who decided we needed rules? Jesus died on the cross so that we didn’t have to have all of the rules to keep us from going to Hell, and he left us with the holy spirit to guide us daily. He also said that above all else, Love. Love your neighbors, Love your enemies… So wouldn’t it make sense to stop following sets of rules, because we all have a different set, and simply follow God? It’s scary to think that we would, in theory be out in this crazy world alone. But you really aren’t. God is always around! Any and everywhere, and you can have one on one conversations with him. You don’t need a 12 week “talking to God” course. Just talk, and listen. Getting back on track, if you look at the facts, it just makes sense. There are hundreds of different religions, all with different beliefs, but they all have one thing in common and that is God. God sent Jesus to live a perfect life, take every sin of ours even before we committed it, and die with it so that we didn’t have to. Jesus set us free so that we could go out and live in Love. So think of everything you could accomplish if you didn’t have a label holding you back? I have been to several churches that wouldn’t let you be a part of the worship team, prayer team, children’s ministry, etc.. if you took part in “worldly” things. Things such as drinking, smoking, cursing, sex before marriage, you name it. So they would tell you that because you did things they didn’t agree with, you couldn’t express God’s love. Does that make sense??? NO! Now, because of this type of behavior for years and years, those who have decided they like “having fun”, have been completely turned away from God. Not because they don’t believe in God, but because they have been told that they couldn’t be a Godly person who would get into heaven if they did the things they were doing. So, let’s do this; throw away your label. Just don’t call yourself anything. Now you’re simply a believer in God and Jesus. No man made rules, nothing holding you back. How likely is it now that a “non-believer” will feel more comfortable talking to a nice, loving, accepting individual, take advice from them, and listen to what they have to say if this person doesn’t try to convert them to their set of boring rules and laws? I’m not saying that no religion means you can just do whatever the heck you want with no consequences, but if the only law we need to worry about is Loving one and other, then why do we need religion?
Now, we’re going to go ahead and peek our little heads right out of the top of this box. Go ahead! I know some of you already have shut and locked your little religion box back up, and that’s okay, just read with an open mind. Peek out and let’s see what could be. Now, because of our religions, we have not only put our own minds into a tight box, but we’ve also put God in a box. Don’t get defensive, it’s not your fault, but you can change it. We have placed God in our box of personal knowledge. This means we have limited God to what we know, and for many of us, that’s very little. You could think you’re the smartest person alive, but when it comes to God, we know just the bare minimum. But why? Well, because we’ve been taught to shut out science because “all scientists are atheists who only believe in the big bang theory”, we’ve been taught to not listen to others beliefs, and we’ve been taught to just follow the rules and we can make it to heaven. Our whole lives have been about simply doing well to get to heaven, but nothing else. Have you thought that maybe God created this world for something a little more? That maybe he created the world for us to enjoy? Don’t go crazy and just get buck wild now, but…. why not? Could there be a possibility that we can be that “crazy sinner” but also have an extremely strong, loving, true relationship with God? That we could also be one of the most loving people some may ever meet?
If we remove our labels, free ourselves from ourselves, and simply focus on God, how far can we go? Science has shown that molecules literally react to the situation their in. It’s shown that a molecule will act one way when alone, but as soon as it’s being watched, it will act a completely different way. That’s AMAZING! But, that’s God! Our attitudes and emotions can literally change an atmosphere simply by us walking into it. I’m saying this because I want you to understand that God is SO much bigger than you know. SO much bigger than you will EVER know. Just when I think I am starting to understand, I learn something else that completely flips my world upside down. If God had an end, we would find it and then have no reason to search. So let’s start searching with an open mind. But it all starts by losing the rules, losing the limitations that have been set for us, and go at EVERYTHING with an open mind. Look at lesbians and gays with Loving eyes instead of converting eyes. Look at drunks and prostitutes with open eyes instead of judgemental eyes. Look through Gods eyes. God doesn’t hate his people, God loves them all, and it doesn’t really matter what you think about them, so stop. Jesus wasn’t part of a specific religion. He didn’t force people to believe in him, and he certainly didn’t just give up on them when they didn’t want to follow him. Jesus saw the bigger picture and stayed focused on God.
I have said a lot of things lately that have cause a bunch of ripple within my family and friends, but I have learned to not let it bother me one bit because I know exactly where I stand with God, I know where my family stands with God, and I know that no matter how many people are at riffs with me that I love them no matter what.
Get out of your box and go find God in the world instead of trying to get people to come find God in your box.