Religion and Rebellion

Posted: December 12, 2010 in Gospel

Before I became a follower of Jesus I was on the path of rebellion against God. I basically didn’t care what He had to say about my life or this world in general. He was irrelevant. His boundaries seemed stupid. And frankly, the people who claimed to be close to Him really freaked me out. Prior to becoming a Christian I think I was exposed to every real life Ned Flanders this side of Springfield.

Anyway, rebellion, though it seemed attractive at the time, ultimately led to pride and despair. It nearly destroyed me until God led me to the Gospel. The Gospel is where I found forgiveness. The Gospel is where I found life. The Gospel is where I found incredible freedom.

And then at some point I took a detour. And that detour began to lead me to the same result as the path of rebellion…pride and despair. By God’s grace, I currently find myself in spiritual and communal rehab as God leads me in an understanding of what went wrong along the way. And all indications are that might take a while.

That detour, by the way, was religion. In the simplest definition I can provide at this point in my journey, by religion I simply mean trusting in myself to bridge the gap between myself and God. Following Jesus largely became about “trying”…trying to serve more, trying to love more, trying to read more, study more, pray more, etc, etc. My understanding slowly deteriorated to “I know I’m messy, I know I’m “not perfect”, but at least I’m trying.” And somehow, by trying, God was pleased with me. I was doing good things so God would respond with His blessing. Slowly but surely, I was trying to reconcile myself to God again. Rather than trusting in the finished work of Christ’s life, death, and subsequent resurrection, I was trying to bridge that gap on my own. Essentially, I was becoming my own savior…which is exactly where I was prior to knowing Jesus.

It wasn’t always that way and it’s a challenge to discern at what point I started traveling down this path. That’s probably because the progression was slow…had I taken a sharp left away from the good news of Jesus it would have been easier to recognize. Instead I got into the slow lane of my own watered down, works-driven theology and set the cruise control to devastation. Fortunately, by God’s grace, I began to run out of gas before I hit rock bottom. Just as He pulled me out of rebellion, He is now helping me limp out of religion. I’m incredibly grateful that I serve a God that seems unwilling to allow me to suffer needlessly even when by my own foolishness, pride, and a seemingly insatiable gravitation toward that which is “comfortable”, I’m bound and determined to do so. His power, mercy, grace, and patience are mind-boggling.

Rebellion from God always leads to devastation. Perhaps to my eyes that’s easier to recognize…not only because I spent about 23 years on that path, but because I’ve always thought of it as the primary way of rejecting God. Religion, however, can be just as devastating. Maybe more so if sustained long enough. And now that I’ve gotten a taste of both and have had those experiences illuminated by great teaching, I’m beginning to realize more fully just how unique the Gospel truly is. The Gospel is so different. It stands alone. Its better than anything we could have ever imagined on our own. And I feel like it has to be central to everything we do. Or else we’ll forget. We’ll lose our way. And we’ll try to carry a burden we were never meant to try to carry.     

For me, RED sums up religion well in “Death of Me” (even if they didn’t intend to)…    


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