Written by Sarah Evangeline
When Jesus walked the earth, He cared more about relationships than rules. Yet sometimes I feel like my religion has become a list of standards I must follow. For years, I lived trapped in the belief that I had to live for the approval of others. Some days I didn’t even recognize myself in the mirror. However, I have begun losing that idea of religion. I’ve begun critically thinking about the rules written on the walls of my box. I’ve asked myself: are these scripturally based rules or are they man-made?
I have decided to choose a personal, intimate relationship with my Saviour, Jesus Christ instead of following a list of rules or traditions that I thought were expected of me. I have escaped the box I was once trapped in and I am living out the true freedom I believe God designed for all of us.
Our God always operates out of a place of freedom. The Bible is full of many life lesson and “rules” for how to live this life, but sometimes we let these lessons restrict us instead of letting them set us free. For instance, when God told Adam and Eve they could eat from any tree in the Garden of Eden, except for the tree of knowledge, He was doing it out of love not bondage. When God warns us against vanity and lust in the book of Proverbs, He is doing so because He knows we are worthy of living out a life of peace and joy.
What if these stories in the Bible were for our protection? What if God gave them to us as a warning because He wants us to liberate us? I’m losing my false religion because we were not created to live confined to a four wall box, like the one I had for many years. Have you been living caged in too? If so, time’s up.
We have heard the Jesus story so many times, but it’s not just a story. It is the deepest example of God’s radical love He so desperately wants everyone to receive. The gift of Jesus is the reason we can live in true freedom. As Jesus carried the cross that was meant for you and me, He was mocked, spat on and tormented. He had thorns digging deep into His head and blood gushing down his body. They whipped His body and the crowds cheered, “Crucify Him!” Yet, while He was on that cross, barely able to breathe, I believe He was still free. How? Because He lived out God’s truth and purpose, outside the four walls of false religion. Jesus broke many of the rules laid out by religious leaders of the time; He spent time with the prostitutes, healed the blind on the Sabbath and sat with the ceremonially unclean. And in doing so, He was fulfilling God’s will.
John 8:36 says, “So if the Son of Man has set you free, you are free indeed.” Did you catch that last phrase? You are free indeed. The only one who keeps you trapped in a four wall box is you. Losing our false religion allows us to be real, both in our walk with Christ and for the sake of the people we see every day. We can choose grace and freedom over chains. That is why I’m letting go of my false religion.