I attended church from a very early age (maybe four, for sure by five), every Sunday, twice a day: Sunday School, pews, hymnals, baptisms, sermons, Bible stories, Commandments… And that was just my time at the Baptist Church. The Pentecostal Church we later attended, although opening my eyes to more spiritual things, laid an even greater burden on me to perform and obey properly.
I spent more than a decade learning the rules a good Christian should follow.
Of course, all the less-than-great stuff that can accompany (what we refer to as) legalism, did: self-righteousness, guilt, condemnation, finger-pointing, holier-than-thou syndrome, etc. (I knew how well I lived up to the standard I was being taught to live up to, and I sure knew how to judge those that didn’t.)
Honestly, it wasn’t until I left “churchianity” for a while, although I still claimed to be a Christian, that I realized I had no idea what we (Christians) were for, only what we were against.
I finally figured out that one of the main things we should be for is the people going through all the stuff we are against – which means not alienating them or judging them, but loving them unconditionally and supporting them as best we can while they are where they are.
See, I can be against abortion without being against the people who’ve had or are considering having an abortion. I’ve also come to realize that abortion is not and should not be the biggest thing we consider when it is time to vote. (Please note, the following is an example, not a critique or judgement of any political party, and surely not a endorsement for their rival.) Republicans who claim to be “Pro Life” but then cut funding for arts and education, cut support for the poor and elderly, promote wars and the death penalty… These are not concepts Jesus would support and are hardly pro life.
And that’s what I had to learn! People are more important than rules. Relationships are more important than being right. I had to grow to a point where I could see the difference between Jesus and the Pharisees – and I had to make the change from being a Pharisee to actually becoming like Jesus.
Jesus stood up for the uneducated, the down-trodden, the un-churched, the dregs of society – He befriended and served them.
That is what “losing my religion” means to me – getting all the churchy nonsense out of my mind and learning to live by love, from the Heart of the Father.