I wouldn’t consider myself a religious person. In fact, I pride myself on the fact that I disagree with and am innately prone to rebelling against doctrines, creeds, dogmas, boundaries and rules. I tend to live on the fringe of Christianity and don’t fit in with other Christians. I drink too much wine, am irresponsible and cuss frequently. In recent weeks I have been staying in a friends guest bedroom, which is a converted storage room. The lack of distraction and shelves full of books about God has allowed me to mull over my own insides and draw nearer to him who made me. In this time with him I have come to realize that religiosity, no matter how much I hate it, reverberates inside of me. It yells what is “good” and “bad”. It comes in sheep’s clothing, pretending to be God, but it isn’t. It is my own brand of religion, a culmination of judgements and the voices of pastors, religious folks and Christian leaders that have made an impression on me for the past 25 years of my life. “God is not condemning you, no matter how you live. God is love and is the only one who truly and unconditionally loves you without reservation.” -Gary Sigler. I came across an interesting facebook post by this man, Gary Sigler. It got me thinking about Gods love, where the root of condemnation really comes from and how religion was born.
“You have two trees to live by. You can live in the deepest recesses of your being where there is life and it is Gods life. Also, in the middle of your garden [figuratively speaking] is the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Christians need to know that the root of the cause of everything in the world that is religious, sinful or negative comes from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. You see, God said to Adam, “Who told you that you were naked?” Before that happened evidently Adam and Eve were naked, but it was no problem. Who told us it was wrong to take a drink? Who told us it was wrong to do anything? Who told us we were sinners? Not God but our preachers and religious leaders. The sin issue has been dealt with. What we need now is to live by life, light and love.” -Gary Sigler
I sat there for a while drinking my coffee, mulling this over. I was picturing the two trees inside of me. The tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil and the tree of Life. And then it dawned on me. There was no religion in the world before sin. Just as there was no poverty in indigenous cultures before money was introduced to them. When Adam and Eve ate from the tree of Knowledge they were told they were naked and that it was wrong, so they hid. Suddenly, there was a set of rules because they were aware of what was “good” and “evil”. But who told them that? Not God. It was Satan. He introduced the world to religion, not God. The bible never says the name of the tree was the tree of Sin, but the Knowledge of Good and Evil, the knowledge of sin in the world.
The more I am learning who God is, the more I’m realizing who he is not. He is not whacking us over the head or grimacing in a corner because of our “bad stuff”. In fact, I think it is very hard for him to see anything bad when he is looking at us always through the lens of pure love and delight. The Aztecs believed that the devil walked a straight line, so they grew their crops in a zig-zag. Gods world is messy and we are messy with him. It is the enemy who walks a straight line, who convinces us that we are sinners and that we need a regimen to be pure and to be closer to God. But this is a lie. Jesus destroyed that lie when he came and died for the world, that means all of us. We no longer need to go through a priest, or preacher, or go to church somewhere to be with God. Nor do we need to be incessantly confessing our sins to him. So, why are we still talking about our sin? Realize it, cry over it, give it to him and move on forever from it. The only thing Jesus ever stressed was for us to love one another as we love ourselves. But how can I love myself when I’m straddling two huge trees? Its exhausting. And I can’t love you or God or anybody if I cannot first love myself. I want to live from the tree of Life. But I consistently go back under the branches of the tree that reminds me of my imperfection and dirtiness. It convinces me that I need to organize and compartmentalize every bit of truth that the Father gives me, but this, again, is religion and is not from God. I implore you to take a second look at what religion has convinced you of about yourself and what your Creator is saying about you.
What has been your experience with religion? Leave a comment below!