Relationship Trumps Religious Ritual
My story starts as many others do… One evening on the 31st of January 1995 this man child here, thats right yours truly was born (Hahar..), to a loving mother and a faithful husband and father. It would be wishful thinking to say my parents bond was inseparable, but only few people(Jesus) have been capable of escaping the jaws of death.
Sadly in life we are faced with many casualties, countless unresolved problems as well as endless experiences and outcomes we fail to comprehend and lets be honest; life never goes according to our plans. Nevertheless it is our mentality of life that will either endure for the better or accept defeat against what is worse.
See two and a half short years after I was born into this world I lost the very one I had known at that age to be the being to my very existence; my Mother.
This is not my first loss, neither would it be the last, two more short years later I’d be in hospital dying, fighting for my life.
Maybe my Mother saw the pain, the loss, the suffering I’d have to endure alone and requested that I return to her, who know’s?? Regardless to say there is one who they call the Thief, he plots to steal from you, attempts to suffocate us of life, and ultimately plans to destroy everything we hold dear; Including our souls.
Throughout my childhood I continued to suffer loss, after being revived in hospital I lost the ability to talk for a year, it was as though all the shock of flat lining then being zapped back into “the land of the living” wiped any memories I’d had before then, my body had to be retaught the motoring skills it required to walk and write, I lost the understanding and ability to speak my native language(Maori) which my Mother had invested into me and any memory of my Mother from this point on was taken from me and lost to the wind.
My Father, months after this life/death experience remarried to a woman who was not as loving nor embracing towards my brothers and I as she was to her own. I’d like to believe that the way I was treated was just my imagination but that unfortunately was not the case.
Ever since I can remember my Father attended church. This so called church of God taught many manmade theories and teachings that neither necessarily aligned with biblical truth and in essence was the twisted opposite to the Word of God.
The name above the door said ‘Grace’ yet the nature of the people spoke of judgement and condemnation. Many were deceived by their false teachings including my father and his wife. This marriage changed my father as did his love for her blur his vision to the bitterness she’d express towards us.
This “mother figure” used the churches methods of child “discipline” for her own bitter benefits. The teaching that none of my siblings or I would ever forget is that if you spare the rod you spoil the child and that rising early in the morning to discipline your child with beatings and lashings on their back’s(backside, legs etc) on uncovered flesh would save their soul.
It makes you think… how stupid must one be to think this is logically acceptable?? Well every time my fathers wife would beat me with a bamboo stick, I could feel her pain in each blow, the frustration and anger, the hatred she had for me, the jealousy that was consuming her heart; and it did not save my soul, it surrounded me with confusion. What were my wrongs, what had I done to make her so angry each time?? Why does she not love me as her own??
After confusion came anger and isolation which brought forth torment, and out of rejection hatred was born.
I became to much to bare in my father’s wife’s presence and so she gave my father the choice that she either leaves him taking the children they had together or that I’d be sent away into foster care. That decision lead my father and her to cast me out at 7–8 years of age and leave me to travel from home to home, eventually having my identity taken from me when they completely abandoned me at the age of ten. See my life did not get any better from the ages of 8 until the end of my teen years, I went from home to home suffered abuses in foster care that if I were to elaborate, would make this a lengthy read for you.
It seems I have seen and experienced both sides of the coin, I have known complete and utter hopelessness yet I have also come to know the very hope that has been an anchor for my soul.
My testimony is not solely focused on my hardship but on the abundant life that my endurance throughout my suffering has produced. Here is my case between relationship and religion which I have experienced in my life.
The best way to define religion would be to say that religion is the practise of something that was once practically vital and now spiritually dead. What I mean by this is that yes in order to relate with God there is boundaries, Yes He has given instructions or a manual on how we can avoid making mistakes or hurting ourselves or better yet one another and how we can live rich and satisfying lives. See your Father in heaven knows more than anyone, humanity is prone to making mistakes and He understands we are far from perfect and have all fallen short of His Glory.
Then there’s religion… Religion say’s you made a mistake let us punish you and remind you it is wrong. Let’s focus more on doing right so our good works will save us from going to hell, lets make sure we live perfect lives according to God’s laws so we may gain His approval, let us follow the traditions of all those before us so God will look at me and say they’re such a good person. So, see the difference between God and man is; that man tries to compress the limitless abilities of God to be confined inside the four walls of a building, or to be expressed by ritual practises, attending church each Sunday and warming up a Pew. See if you hate church for this very reason I don’t blame you I did too; and I can say without a doubt so would God.
As a child I was brought up to believe ‘church’ and ‘christianity’ was a bunch of rules and regulations (thanks to the false teachings of a group of over-religious people), But these very things are not God; even Jesus challenged the religious for these practices many times and on one occasion Jesus heals a blind man on a Holy day which according to the law (back then) you were not permitted to work on that day. So because Jesus restored the sight of a blind man on that day, the blind man is accused of being a great sinner, a demonic man who was healed by demonic power and to make matters worse they threw the man out of a holy place and told him he is no longer welcome to enter the house of the Lord. The mistake the religious leaders made was deeming the law to be more important then helping someone in need, and helping a person in need and working are not one in the same. In the story of John chapters 9–10 Jesus afterward finds the blind man and says this;
“The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose(Jesus) is to give them(us all) rich and satisfying Life.” (John 10:10)
Jesus is saying that the very mindset they acted out of was a Satanic attitude that does not bring rich and satisfying life but only takes, kills and destroys the very essence of life that is purposed inside us all.
Not that what I am saying is intended to disregard what the law say’s because Jesus reminds them that their Father in heaven is a Good Father and He understands that his children, like any children make mistakes, we fall, we do things that may inflict pain on ourselves and other’s but He picks us up and allows us to try again, as a father would encourage his child until He succeeds as does God desires for us to succeed.
His loves is unconditional, His love is never earned but freely given. Above all else, The God of the universe desires a relationship with each and everyone of us because love is not forceful, love is a choice. Religion did not give hope to this once hopeless 18 year old but relationship with God my Father is what brought me such rich and satisfying life.