I find myself trying to explain how I make decisions based on my relationship with God and how it compares to a religion about God. As my followers can attest–anything is fair game to a writer. That said…
There has been much debate about the term “religion” in the role of its followers. Jihad extremist’s violent attacks, suicide bombers, self denial. Even the peaceful protest for the unborn all claim a sense of spiritual direction from their leader to do what they do in hopes of being “good enough” to receive blessings from God.
I pose the question Do you brush your teeth every day and if so Why? Most will respond a resounding YES! Of course you do–and think everyone should. You have encouraged your children to brush diligently every day. (One might say you brush your teeth “religiously.”) Not in a desire to please the all powerful Tooth God with blind obedience. You prefer the outcome of your actions (fresh breath, strong teeth, bright smile, their role in speaking clearly) to the actions of not brushing (decay, lose, pain) Brushing your teeth every day is a habit–a very good habit. One you cultivate because you desire a good result. Does this mean you are in a relationship with your toothbrush? Of course not. Your adherence to the rules of proper dental health care is to receive/avoid a specific outcome.
Many individuals serve their God in much the same manner…obedience out of habit or fear of retaliation. Activities like church attendance, prayer, self denial, behavior modifications all performed because they have been taught to obey or face damnation. I know I did. For years I did all the “right” things living on a form of Christian autopilot. I knew all the songs, read the scriptures every day, prayed before bed and meals and for the lost…all the while hoping for the promised outcome for my obedience. And I did it so well I convinced myself it was the only way to live. Yet it lacked sincerity and joy. Even though I had risen to the rank of a licensed preacher I was a fraud
To remedy this I had to start all over, reevaluate motive, question every action. It was imperative I remove myself from the “churchy” situations–it would have been so easy to slip back into old habits. Only by breaking those habits was I able to establish an honest relationship with God.
Today, my choice to be part of the Christian faith is not one made out of fear but love. I no longer feel obligated to embrace every aspect of church life. I have a relationship with my loving God. I have fellowship with Him through prayer. I praise Him openly and often and I know HE is with me on my journey. My friends, stop the struggle. Live loving the journey and every time you brush your teeth use that time to thank God for his willingness to have a relationship with you.