Years ago when I thought I had it all figured out I abandoned God.
Let me start over, my culture has a tendency to lean toward the legalistic side of Christianity, it always seemed more like you had to do certain things in a certain way at a certain time to earn God’s approval and ultimately earn your salvation.
Before my wife was my wife we did the step by step process of getting married, before you could get married you were expected to get baptized. Now let me be clear, this wasn’t a rule written down anywhere this was more like an unwritten thing, because anyone who didn’t do it this way was talked about behind their backs and judged.
So we did the baptism classes and learned a lot, I actually really enjoyed it we had a wonderful teacher, he knew his Bible and taught it well. He is also the one who later baptized us and married us.
But after that was all said and done and life sank in we started to drift away from church, not anyone’s fault or anything but about a year or two after our wedding we stopped going.
We drifted into married life, working and trying to save money and doing things our own way and eventually church and God became a guilt that we wanted to avoid.
Year after year went by and family would bring up church and ask if we were there on Sunday, of course our answer was no, we were tired from work and wanted to sleep, we only have one day a week to relax and going to church is not relaxing, you gotta sit on those wooden benches and it’s so long and we had excuse after excuse as to why we didn’t go.
God was not a part of our life, and we became ok with that. We told ourselves that we would get back to that spot one day but not now.
Then one day, I was at work and hiding from it, and God ever so subtly placed something in front of me. A book written by a pastor and his wife about marriage, I had never before thought a pastor would or could say the things this guy was saying, he talked about everything including sex, marriage and anger and well the list goes on but the point is in my mind pastors walked and talked a certain way because they’re pastors but not this guy he was a regular guy who had a lot of life experience and happened to be a pastor as well.
I read his book and he strongly encouraged reading the Bible, so I went home, found my old Bible and dusted it off, I began reading and for the first time in my life I read it without all the rules of religion, like I said we weren’t churchgoers at this time and reading the Bible without any blinders on was amazing.
I’m not advising this but if you ever find yourself away from church for an extended period of time, pick up a Bible and read it before you go back.
Every person has a filter, and this filter is what the Bible has to go through to get to your head, and when you grow up going to traditional churches and doing the traditional things you tend to look at the Bible through a traditional filter.
Without a filter in my head filtering out the things in the Bible that church didn’t want to talk about I found out that some of these traditional teachings were simply not found in God’s Word.
One of those traditions was the process to get married and it went kind of like this, find a girl, go to church, get baptized, get married, have kids and so on, but when I sat down and studied the Word I wondered where this step by step tradition came from. I found that Jesus got baptized when He was thirty and He never got married or had kids, the tradition told me that baptism was part of the process to get married, Jesus obviously didn’t get married and He was baptized.
Baptism, I learned was something that you do as a public declaration that you have surrendered to God and has absolutely no bearing on what another person does, even your future spouse. Deep down I knew that but never really thought about it before.
That’s just one example of what I learned while reading the Bible and not going to church. Don’t get me wrong I am now an avid churchgoer and so are my wife and kids, we love going to church and get disappointed when we miss a Sunday.
What I’m trying to get at here is that when we grow up a certain way doing the same things over and over and we are taught the same things we tend to get into a state of “that’s just the way it is” and it saddens me. If we are taught that something must be done a certain way we think Jesus declared it, then we learn that He didn’t and it can be confusing. What we have in our heads as the truth may not be the actual truth. There is nothing wrong with traditions but when the tradition becomes scripture then tradition has overstepped it’s boundaries.
Not going to church and reading the Bible made me feel like my eyes were now open for the first time, please do not take that as anything bad toward any church, if that’s what you’re getting, you’re using your filter.
The Bible tells us to test everything and I now realize that some of the traditions I knew failed the test. It’s hard for people to accept a teaching other than what they have been taught especially if they won’t go to the source and test it for themselves. That’s where I was for a long time, this is what I’ve been taught and I’m not going to stray from it.
God pulled me in at a time when I least expected it, I was not in a good state of mind, I think He waited until my head had emptied itself of all other teachings and then He filled it with His Word, He used a book not written by Him to bring be to the one that was.
God is Awesome, God is Love, but He is also Just, and I needed to see Him for who He is and in my head before I didn’t see Him clearly, now I’m beginning to see His character and learning more than I ever did when I was using my filter.
God had to work His way through my filter before he ever got to me and this is what my filter looked like…
That may not be the best illustration but I think it serves it’s purpose, God should not have to bypass the filter to get to me, all of those dynamics should be filtered through God, not the other way around.
So before I bore you I will end this but first I feel like I should probably leave a little disclaimer.
Church is great, you should go to church, you should be a part of the body of Christ. I am not saying leave your church, I am saying that some churches are filters and we need to be sure we aren’t confusing tradition as scripture.
Friends, family, coworkers and the rest of society will benefit when you stop using them as a filter for how you see God, not that those people are bad, but that they are not to be put in the way of God.
So I think what we need to do is “test everything” against scripture, we cannot just accept what someone says if we aren’t willing to see what God says and that’s the whole point of this post, don’t be a follower of men but rather a follower of Jesus.
Jesus didn’t follow the traditions in place when He entered the scene, He gave us our direct link to God the Father and that link wasn’t found at the bottom of a filter.
Thanks for sharing.
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