7 thoughts on giving up religion to follow Jesus

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So many people are waiting on the future and the fulfillment of “the return of Christ,” not realizing that this “return” – this breakthrough of the life-giving Spirit into our world – is a reality that is birthed out of us. It is the “return of Christ” in and through YOU! This is not a futuristic religious event associated with institutional Christianity. It is a humankind event unfolding among us now in which people are turning toward that Spirit inside themselves, and connecting with what they most deeply feel is real and true. They are releasing that power into the world by speaking it in their own words and expressing it in their daily lives. Every time this happens is a “return of Christ” – a surge of restoration, transformation, vitalization, and freedom into our world.

The disciples were told to stop staring into the clouds, waiting for the return of Christ. Jesus was not going to be coming back down from the sky. Instead, they were told that Jesus would return in the same way that he departed. The Scriptures speak of Jesus’ departure from the world as a “lifting up.” People think of death as being lowered down into the ground as an act of finality. But Jesus spoke of his death as a new beginning – a “lifting up” – specifically, a lifting up of the Spirit in each of us. The “return of Christ” is the Spirit “lifted up” in and out of each of us.

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The scriptures speak of a great liberating power that will arise out of Bethlehem. The word “Bethlehem” means “house of bread.” More specifically, “an ever increasing house or family that brings forth food, especially bread, that prevails and overcomes.” What if the real “Bethlehem” is in us and this is where the real liberator is birthed from? In other words, the liberation we long for is not going to fall down from the sky, but is going to birthed from within us. We are the house that brings forth the bread.

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Ever before any doctrine is taught, a child already knows the life-giving Spirit inside them. The connection is very natural and real to the child. There is no need for religious instruction, structure or language to aid the child’s experience.

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There is an inner awareness that happens. It’s a “feeling” thing. It has more substance than a mental connection. I know you have experienced this, and perhaps you did and even brushed it off or didn’t give it much credence, and you went back into your head. This is how the Spirit opens up inside us. It might be triggered by something or suddenly sneak up on us for no apparent reason. This inner awareness, these deep feelings, these intimations that rise up within you – pay attention to them, listen to them, follow them, speak from them in your own words. Think of this as your spiritual path today.

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Once I decided to take Jesus’ message seriously, I realized that “God” is not some separate entity located somewhere in the sky. I understood that God’s life is not out there somewhere but is in me and you, and constitutes the very nature, essence and being of who we are. Religion too often turns our eyes outward to find God, which is looking in the wrong direction.

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We have been swept away by the narrative that the source for what we want is outside ourselves. Religion puts “God” as the source out there somewhere in the sky. Others are looking to the “universe” as the source for what they want. We are given a system or formula to coax God or the universe to fulfill our desires. All the while we are missing that the true source of what we desire is inside ourselves.

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Jesus once threw out the challenge to go sell all your possessions in order to follow him. Why possessions? It’s no mystery that our attachments can block the way for experiencing the life of the Spirit within us. It’s not uncommon for people to externalize their identity from “worldly riches” in which our sense of self and value is derived from our financial status, possessions, and upholding the cultural narratives about what it means to be “successful.” Once we buy into that system, there is very little chance that we will turn toward the ways of the Spirit within us. It’s also the case that people manufacture an identity based on what they believe to be their superior religious understandings or belief system. That’s where their status comes from. So think of Jesus saying it this way, “If you want to follow me and the way of the Spirit that I am teaching, go give up all your religious beliefs and understandings that you are holding onto.” Then imagine the rest of the passage with Jesus saying, “Do you have any idea how difficult it is for a person holding onto their religious understandings and mindset to enter God’s Kingdom? Let me tell you, it’s easier to gallop a camel through a needle’s eye than for that person to enter God’s kingdom.”

Latest Comments

  1. Audrey Garratt says:

    Now that is plain-speak and I can feel that ‘lifted-up’ feeling inside me responding as I read. At last the Truth is being opened up for all to see. How hungry we are for this!

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