Before you start picking up your stones and pitchforks, just hear me out for one second. I was raised on religion my entire life, specifically Christianity. My family and I have been Christians ever since I can remember. During my 25 years on this great green Earth I have visited many different churches and have listened to sermons by all types of preachers. Let me be clear, I still identify myself as a Christian, but my views on religion have changed.
Religion. What is that exactly? Webster defines it as an organized system of beliefs, ceremonies, and rules used to worship a God or gods. Herein lies my first issue. I do believe that God created man, but man created "religion". As humans, we often have a tendency to over-complicate things by finding solutions to problems that don't actually exist. I honestly think that the original intention was for people to have a personal relationship with God and receive His love and carry out a fulfilling life.
Religion causes issues for me because, depending on where you are or who you're listening to, the message you receive can be completely different. In one place someone might tell you that you need to complete a specific set of actions and tasks before you can be deemed "worthy" of deliverance and in another place you could be told that you should believe everything that the pastor says simply because they are the head of the church. That's crap. Seriously. James 4:10 says: humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. Personally, that tells me that I should come before the Lord myself and develop a relationship with Him rather than just base my entire spiritual experience on the words of another man. It doesn't say "humble yourself before your pastor, and then the Lord will lift you up". This is not me saying that you shouldn't listen to your pastor, because I believe that the men and women called to these positions of teaching are invaluable resources of knowledge and you can learn a great deal from them. What I caution against, is accepting everything that they say without doing any of your own personal research and spending your own time with God. Pastors are essentially teachers, and they are teaching their interpretation and understanding of God's word.
So many people miss out on salvation in today's time because they are turned off by the church. It's usually not the message that they hear that turns them away, it's more often the people instead. They listen to sermons that say "you need to act this way and do this and do that", but they see the people in the church doing the exact opposite in their own personal lives. It's unfortunate because I really believe that God doesn't want us to go and try to shove religious teachings and moral values down peoples throats just for the sake of "I'm right and you're wrong". I think He would really prefer that we show people His love and favor through the way that we live our own lives. No, you don't have to be perfect, you just have to be willing to humble yourself and live your life for Him, everything else will fall into place.
The last thing that turns me off about religion is the judgmental attitude that a large number of people adopt. I see this as a direct contradiction of God's word. 1 John 4:7-8 says: ...Let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love, does not know God, because God is love. There is no reason why we should turn our backs on people who live their lives differently from us. If they are in fact living wrong, love them anyway while you live your life right and maybe your example will redirect their path. Jesus surrounded himself with all kinds of people, sinners and saints alike. I also feel that no one really has any room to judge others because most people just pick and choose which parts of the bible they want to live by. You might see someone bashing homosexuals one minute and then having premarital sex the next. Only God can judge, so leave that up to Him.
You may not agree with most or even anything that I've said, and that's okay because it's just my opinion. I know that I'm not a perfect person and I will never pretend to be. I love God, and I know that He loves me. And although I am not the biggest fan of religion itself, I will always go to church because I believe that helps to further my relationship with God. As long as my relationship with God is strong, my life will always benefit.
Because, at the end of the day, it's all about the r
God loves you, thank you for reading.