What Religion Can't Offer Anyone
A religious spirit never saved anybody. Religion doesn't breed salvation. Religion breeds fear. I lived in fear. I lived in so...much...fear. I feared going to bed, getting up, facing the secrets, facing people who might discover my secrets. No matter where I went, darkness went before me and prepared the place I was going. There was no light, only fear. When religion had me in its clutches, I viewed it as an evil dictator. I did what it said because I thought it had the power to squash me like a bug. And it was always yelling at me to do better, to do more...
to squash others.
Yes, religion squashes others. Funny word, maybe, but it's true. Just like those bug guts on the bottom of your shoe, that is what happens when we try to force religion down someone's throat.
We suffocate them...
We suck the life out of them...
we squash them.
I hope my tone of voice on this blog has come across as encouraging and compassionate because that is the miracle of who I am now. Miracle is the only word for it. All my doom and gloom turned to praise and thanks. All my condemnation turned to freedom.
All my religion turned into grace.
Grace found me and it was not meek or mild when it did. It reached down and hooked its arms around my waist and pulled me - no yanked me - with all its might up and out of that blasted pit that had been my home for so long. I kicked and screamed, terrified of what life would be like in the light, but grace was not afraid of my reaction. Grace was courageous and bold and would not let go once it got a hold of me. Religion was my oldest companion in that pit.
How can a dictator be a companion?
It sounds crazy to me now, but it was the truth to me then. I thought religion would save me, keep me from more hurt...
Ah, there it is.
Hurt. When religion can, it convinces us that it is the antibiotic our soul needs to avoid more pain. Some suffer pain and run from God with all their might. Others, like me, run to religion because, really, we just want to feel safe. Desperate people will always take desperate measures. Religion preys on wounded people, then uses those very people to inflict wounds on other people. It's a viscous cycle.
A lot has changed in me since religion died. A lot...
I love, freely...even though I might get hurt in return. I've learned that love is bold, daring, sacrificial. If that means sacrificing my safety, then so be it. I don't love to get something back. I love because I was loved first. Now that I believe I was loved first, I can boldly love others.
I don't judge myself anymore. I used to constantly try to measure up and in doing so, I measured everyone else up. I wasn't good enough, and they weren't either, but if I made them out to be less worthy, maybe I would be worthy enough. Every soul has some kind of wound, some damage inflicted by this fallen world, and the first instinct is self preservation. I see people now the way Jesus saw me. Wounded, broken, needing hope. Instead of condemning me, Jesus gave me hope. Instead of squashing me with religion, he picked me up and carried me to a safe place.
Grace is miraculous.
Religion has found a lot of weary souls...a lot of desperate people. I see it and hear it all around me. Like the sound of bugs crunching under foot is the sound of souls being squashed by religion. It has a loud voice and it drowns out many.
There is hope, though.
How do I know? I know, because when grace grabbed me from that pit and pulled me into the light, religion didn't come out with me. Religion stayed there and I saw it, finally, as the puny parasite that it was. I saw that it was just another demon that cringes at the name of Jesus. I saw that what it needed most to survive was fear...and I wasn't giving that pathetic parasite what it needed anymore.
Can I tell you what I have discovered?
I have discovered grace. Grace doesn't worry about how many times I fall, it only cares about the number of times I get up and go again. Grace doesn't dictate righteousness to me, it offers me hope that I can run this race, it makes me want to run this race. Grace has set my soul on fire and it burns deep inside my bones. Grace has made me believe that I can push the doors open in Heaven and come running to the throne of holy and right, because the throne of holy and right came running to me.
Have you found grace, friend?
The soul who finds grace, finds freedom. Grace is pursuing you. It won't stop pursuing you. Religion is not stronger, nor is any other parasite trying to suck the life out of you. There is nothing religious about Jesus. He is the miracle of righteousness and grace made into a beautiful sacrifice...for you. Religion can't offer you Jesus. Religion can only offer you suffocation and death. When I gave up religion I found the thing I had really been seeking all along...
I found Jesus...
I found grace...