Let’s get one thing straight. I’m not writing this to offend; but if I do, I’m sorry. I only share things I felt need to be said. I’m writing this to keep someone from falling into the same traps I fell in to. A trap of religion and fear. I’m not writing this to any particular church, domination, or person. So if you know me, the way I grew up, the church I attended, don’t assume it’s about that. A person can fall into these traps no matter what church they go to or what domination they claim. This just happens to be my story…
I grew up in what some would consider a “strict” home. My parents loved me and my siblings. Though this environment created problems for my parents, I never once questioned whether either one of them loved me. They put us in the environment they thought was best. But this environment was more like a bubble. You know on those medical TV shows where you see the kid that has some disease where if he comes into contact with any germs, he’ll die… so they put him in this bubble all alone to “protect” him? Yeah, it was kind of like that.
Everything was CHURCH. (Noticed how I said CHURCH and not JESUS?) Literally, Everything. Every friend, every activity… Even our school was ran by the church we went to. I was in the bubble, and the disease I had was sin. We all have it. (Romans 3:23) If I was exposed to any germs – in this case “the world”– my disease would get worse… (It literally felt like a different world when I escaped the bubble)
So my parents did what any loving parent would try to do… and sheltered me from the germs. They were trying to change the environment, but you see real change comes from within. (Luke 11: 39-40). There were rules. Lots of rules. “Wear skirts below your knee ALL the time!” “Don’t listen to music that has a beat… if it makes you tap your foot, it’s bad… even if it’s ‘so-called’ Christian!” “That boy you like, Oh, don’t even think about touching his hand!” I was expected to do everything just because you’re supposed to. When I got a little older and started questioning things, people would defend their stance with scripture, but sadly it was often taken out of context. Even Satan can and did use scripture for his own agenda. (Matthew 4:1-11)
This is where the fear came in. I remember in elementary school going through this phase where I was constantly praying for forgiveness. Don’t get me wrong, praying for forgiveness is something we should do… but not in the way I was. Let me explain. I would be playing on the playground and accidentally brush against a boy, and immediately I would be struck with fear. Real fear. To the point that I would be in tears. Bible verses that had been drilled into me, would pop into my head and make me think I had done something horrible.
The enemy can use religion against you so easily because it’s disguised as something good.
I remember another time when my parents scolded me and my brother for being too loud while playing a game. I stopped mid-game, bowed my head, (“You can only pray if your eyes are closed and head is bowed.”) and prayed for forgiveness. We weren’t even really in trouble, but I was scared of dying any time my parents corrected me because the Bible said you can only live a long life if you honor your parents. (Ephesians 6:1-4) It got to the point where if I was having fun, I thought I was sinning, and I’m not exaggerating. In my young mind the things of God were not fun because the Bible says, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8). Not that I was thinking un-pure things, but again, in my naive mind if I wasn’t thinking about church, I was thinking about something bad.
This is not what God intended. God’s yoke is easy, His burden is light! The JOY of the LORD is my STRENGTH! (Matthew 11:30 & Nehemiah 8:10). There’s FREEDOM in JESUS because He already PAID IT ALL! I may dress differently than you, I may have a contemporary worship band at my church, but I am free to DANCE before the Lord. (II Samuel 6:14) He gave me that freedom! (Romans 8:1-4, Galatians 5:13-14) (Please understand that I’m not saying the way you worship is necessarily wrong; just that the way I worship is not wrong either.)
This has been an ongoing battle for me! I’ve dealt with taking on leadership roles because I’m a woman and I’ve had it drilled in my head that women can’t lead. But God gave me that ability and that FREEDOM! I’ve struggled with praying out loud, even in front of my own husband, because I can only serve God with a meek and quiet spirit. I felt as if my husband could be the only one to pray over our home, and that he didn’t have to consult me with decisions, because he is the head of the house (not that he ever did anything to make me feel that way.) These are the things I thought were true. I’ve struggled believing for break-through and miracles, because God only performed miracles in the Biblical times. I’ve judged those who think or look differently than me because I was taught that if they resembled the culture of the world whatsoever, they were of the world and sinners; and I shouldn’t have anything to do with them. That’s bondage. Nothing about that is freedom….
James 2:17 says, “Faith without works is dead”, but what is works without faith? That’s what I was doing, and what I have done for many years of my life. It’s been tough, and I escaped the bubble early. Someone reading this may still be in the bubble. God is showing me that I am free to worship Him. Truly worship. To lift my hands, to fall down and weep, to dance. God gave me freedom to live like Jesus did. I’m learning to let all these things go. To die to myself daily, and follow Him! And I’m beyond excited.
So let’s stop thinking that we can’t leave the “four HOLY walls” of our church and go have dinner with a prostitute. Let’s push boundaries. Let’s make the “church people” UNCOMFORTABLE. After all, isn’t that what Jesus did?
In the episode of the medical show I watched with the little boy in the bubble… the only way to get him out of the bubble was to inject him with a virus that would consume and change his cells. Change has to happen in the heart before anything will happen on the outside.
If you’re held captive by doctrine, by standards, by church, by your past, by religion, by fear….. Let JESUS CONSUME YOU like a virus…. And for God’s sake, Let’s POP THE BUBBLE!