I began sharing my faith journey as an author in 2006, publishing Divine Nobodies: Shedding Religion to Find God (and the unlikely people who help you). The book struck a nerve, and my Inbox was flooded with emails from others who were trying to untangle their lives and faith from religion. Ordinary people, mainly from a Christian background, they had come to the end of their rope with faith and God, but felt understood and validated through my story, and inspired by the possibility that it could be different.
Seeing that people often got stuck in there disenchantment with religion, my follow-up book, Wide Open Spaces: Beyond Paint-by-Number Christianity, gave a glimpse into what it might look like to live a religion-free relationship with God. I also noticed that many of these people in the throes of spiritual crisis chose to abandon God and Jesus altogether. My third book, Being Jesus in Nashville: Finding the Courage to Live Your Life (whoever and wherever you are), spoke to this issue as I shared my story of discovering a religion-free Jesus who finally set me free from my religious pathologies and led me forward in my spiritual pilgrimage.
In response to the volume of people contacting me for support and guidance in their journey of shedding religion and rebuilding new faith, I began offering spiritual direction and coaching, and led cohort groups and webinars for this purpose. The process peels back more and more layers of self-awareness, which often feels like dismantling your entire life and starting over. It can be a messy, complex and volatile process, impacting every area of life, including one’s purpose and direction, core values and relationships.
But along the way I have discovered how religion thwarts people in their desire to be whole and free. It is very difficult to convince people that they are good and beautiful human beings when religion has convinced them that they are “sinners” and despicable to God The greatest need of all people has always been and continues to be to know there is nothing wrong with us, that we are loved and accepted by God without condition. This was the meaning of Jesus’ life. This is the highest truth that defies, fulfills and transcends all religion, and this is the truth that will set us free.
The Religion-Free Bible Project was born from my seeing that the next contribution for me to make with my tribe of “shedders” was to write a paraphrase of the Bible that draws out God’s heart for humankind, unshackled from the religious spin often put on it. People often read a predetermined set of religious assumptions into the Bible. We adopt a certain language (and understanding) around the Bible that becomes a box we can’t get out of, and will never lead to the freedom we desire. A paraphrase can be a useful tool to express a timeless truth in a way that’s more accessible to a certain group of people. This paraphrase is designed to especially connect with those who are exploring a spiritual life beyond the mentalities of religion, and discover new ways to live in relationship with oneself, God, others, life and the world.
Here are some ways you can be part of creating the first Religion-Free Bible:
1. If you’re interested in being a part of creating the first Religion-Free Bible, shoot me an email and let me know. Some of the working teams include: Writing Team; Creative Direction and Image Selection Team; Social Media Team; Administrative Support Team; Encouragement Team. My email is: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. If you haven’t already, “Like” the RFB Facebook Page.
3. Make a $5 contribution to the RFB Funding Campaign. I think people don’t do this because they’re thinking, “What would $5 matter???” It makes a huge difference! Having every person who believes in the RFB make a small contribution is so encouraging, and helps build a groundswell of interest.