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The Day I Walked Away from Religion

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As a child, I was taught that when I give my heart to Jesus, He will come and live inside of me.  First of all, that’s kinda weird.  I don’t want someone living inside me.  My mom said that my brother was living inside of her, so does that mean Jesus is going to be a baby inside me?   Does that also mean He will come out in 9 months? Wait….that’s what happened to Mary in the story they tell me at Christmas time.

To clarify, He is not going to live in my belly. He’s going to live in my heart. I was also taught that in order for Him to stay in my heart, there was a list of rules I had to follow.  If you chose not to follow the rules, then “you were not a Christian anymore.”  

  • I couldn’t go to the movies, 
  • I couldn’t drink wine (Jesus turned water into wine, why can’t I drink it?), 
  • I could only listen to Christian music, 
  • I had to be at church every time the doors were open, which meant I had to go to church even when I was sick and vacations with my family were out of the question,
  • I had to read three chapters of the Bible every day,
  • I had to pray every day for one hour, 
  • I had to go to the altar every church service to ask for forgiveness for my sins,
  • I could only wear certain types of clothes,
  • Every person I met, I had to tell them about Jesus,
  • and the list goes on and on.  

I’m sure you could add several more rules yourself.  

If I didn’t follow every rule, all the time, then I couldn’t be a Christian or go to heaven.  I think we can agree that reading your bible, attending church, and other actions listed above are all good things to do. However, it was the unrealistic expectations of how these actions were lived out that made them rules to follow, instead of opportunities to live out a life of worship.

All these rules had me so bound up that after 20 years (I can’t believe I lasted that long), I was ready to walk away from God not towards Him.  I was told that if I stopped attending church, I would be walking away from God and I didn’t want to do that. I had seen so many people walk away for the same reason.  Just like those people, I love God and wanted to know Him more, but didn’t want to live under the constant pressure and unrealistic expectations anymore.

Then one day, God showed me the difference between religion and relationship.

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