Religion. I can’t think of any other words that have defined who I am today more so than religion. Over the course of my short life I have attended well over 600 hundred religious services. You may be thinking, “Wow this guy is a real saint,” but rest assured that’s only going to church every Sunday for 10 years (I don’t really count going to church before 6) and going to youth group several times a year. I have to smile when I think about how often my family has gone to church; not because I think going to church every Sunday deserves praise, but because when we travel across oceans to visit my family in America we often fly in on a Saturday and attend church the next day. There are hardly any suitable excuses for us kids, my little brother in particularly has tried quite a few, to skip church. In short, I don’t have much of a choice to go to church or not. This attitude of rule following, and always doing the “right thing,” seems to be good on the surface; however, it is my honest opinion that in trying to perfectly obey the commands of my religion, I have stunted my own growth as an individual. I have not grown in my maturity and I don’t understand the concept of grace. Ironically, the Christian faith stands upon the idea of grace and yet my own understanding of grace is next to nothing.
For the first 15 years of my life I believed that very few people were “true Christians.” I thought many people were religious, but Christianity was only for the super special people. Why? Because I didn’t realize that you could mess up and still be a Christian. I didn’t understand the core principle of my faith, instead I tried to follow all the rules that “good people” followed. Following the commands of God is a very important part of being Christian, I hold that to be true, but it is not what defines individuals. The motivation is what matters; my motivation has rarely been in the right place. God says, in John 14:15 “If you love me you will keep my commands.” Order matters. If I love God, then I will keep his commands. It is love for God that prompts me to do what he says. Keeping his commands without loving him, means nothing. Again, I have a very difficult time grasping this concept because it is so deeply rooted in the basis of my character
As evidenced by the previous two paragraphs, my entire life, I have felt the need to be perfect. I have never felt that I can mess up and still be accepted. This defines me. Religion defines me. This is who I am. I seek to change it, but it will be a long process of realizing that it’s okay to not be perfect. In my heart I unfairly place the standard of perfection on others, though no one can live up to that standard. Amidst these jumbled thoughts I hope that you have been able to see how religion has made me the person I am today, how I resent myself for believing that being religious is what one should strive for, and how I am trying to believe that love is what should define me not rules.