I’ve stopped going to church regularly, again. Oh, I go on Easter and Christmas. Just enough to drive the regulars crazy.
A few years ago we attended a church that catastrophically imploded. Having been a pastor I was so incensed I just couldn’t go back.
Fast forward four years and we tentatively stuck our toes into the shallow end again.
We attended a popular church semi-regularly. It’s the hip go-to church in our community. Their worship was well done and the preachers were good.
On a few occasions I’d winch as they seemed to drift off into legalism or minimize God’s miracle working power. But for the most part I could pass over that.
Then one Sunday the pastor spoke on the promise of how God will work all things together for good in our lives.
I thought, “Great. Here’s something we can fully agree on.”
Then they showed a video interview of a young woman in her early forties. She told how she continually prayed to get married yet God never answered. And how she was so disappointed and couldn’t understand why.
Then she said, “But God was using it for good. He was preparing me for something much worse. Because now I have cancer.”
Then the pastor explained how she’d passed away a couple of weeks earlier.
Frankly, it took all of my will power and glancing over at my wife to not stand up and scream, “Noooooooo! That’s heresy!”
We never went back.
So again I enjoy Sunday mornings reading a spiritual book, with a cup of coffee in our sunroom gazing at our beautiful garden, a couple of cats curled up at my feet.
I empathize with those who really want a relationship with God. Yet have been so burned by religion they just can’t go to church.
Thank God, literally, our relationship with him doesn’t depend on religion. In fact I find religion often actually hinders it.
It’s what Jesus promised, “For I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”*
Jesus battled religion also. The fundamentalists of his day were so caught up in their religion they missed the relationship.
Instead he shows us who he is which gives us a glimpse of the relationship we can have.
He said he is gentle which literally means loving and caring.
He loves us more than we can ever imagine. And he continually reaches out to us in that love. He wants to bless us in unimaginable ways including truly turning our hurts into something good.
And he’s humble. Literally it means he has all power yet never forces it on us.
He could force allegiance but doesn’t. Instead he gives us grace and forgiveness over and over.
So when we stop trying to earn his blessings through religion. And instead just rest in his love we find a peace deep in our souls that’s simply indescribable.
We can find God even when we’re burned out by religion. Often that’s the best time.
What has been your experience with religion and finding God?
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*Matthew 11: 29 (NIV)