I didn’t grow up in church. I always knew God, I can remember him speaking to me as young as age eight, but I wasn’t raised by the Bible nor was I associated with anyone who was. But I gave my life to Jesus when I was 22, and totally changed the way I was living. I went from never having stepped foot inside of a church or opening my Bible—except for maybe five times out of pure curiosity—to full-blown immersion into ministry and everything that included for me.
I was so in love with Jesus. I clung for dear life to every verse and I made intentional choices to live by those verses every day. I was allowing God to change me into a better me with a better heart. And for no reason other than I just loved Him. It was a relationship with my God.
There’s a verse in the hymn Amazing Grace that says “Tis so sweet the hour I first was saved”. And that line in that song has never meant so much to me.
Over the last few months, I’ve come to realize I had no idea religion, rules, and regulations that attach themselves to the church were slowly choking the life out of me—and ruining my relationship with God.
It all started with “you can’t do that”. It was downhill from there in my spirit. After several years, the tug in my heart to come back to love God had been confusing me for so long. I kept saying, “God I do love you, I don’t understand.” And I heard No Edie, you don’t. You love church. Not me. You love looking good, being noticed, being “more spiritual” than someone else. You love wearing the latest trend in your church, you love church lingo, you love saying that you love others but do you really? You love all things religious. Come back to love me.
I really had started to care more about promoting me, and looking good, and being approved of, and what others thought of me. I was so religious, and it was ruining me.
There is a verse that says it’s better to never know God than it is to know Him and then leave Him. I feel this in my heart. You can still attend church and serve and do all the things you do . . . but have left God.
I pray we can work together to never let the idea of religion be what we love instead of God. And I also pray that you, as a mature Christian, never become the reason religion starts getting in the way of someone’s spirit.
Come back to that hour you first were saved. Nothing else matters, no expectations, no rules or regulations, just in love with God. All else will follow.