I feel that in my process of coming to know Christ, I need to put my own religion to death.
When I define religion for myself, it's that particular view of God you develop very early on, from your parents, from your own view of yourself and the world, and from the culture in which you find yourself. For better or for worse.
I guess before I saw God as a disapproving type. Kind of like my dad. With high, unrealistic standards. One who is keeping close track of how much you pray to him or do the right things (or wrong things). Sure I know God loves me too, but I didn't realize that HIS love is quite different from the love I understand as a human.
As I moved into college, my mind was introduced to a God who IS pure Love. I read books like Abba's Child, where I see myself called His "beloved". My old image of God was beginning to break apart, and that was a good thing.
However, I think God knew that I still had other preconceived notions about our relationship that needed to be dealt with before I could grow even closer to God. That I may have had the "head knowledge," but it hadn't migrated down to my heart. Maybe I'll expound on that in another post but let's just say that the past 5-6 years has been constituted of several "little deaths" in which I find myself broken, emptied and much in need of God's presence. Not hymns and prayers and bible studies (although one can certainly find God in those disciplines) but simply the awareness of God's very real being. Instead of finding space to let God fill the void, I'd been filling it with everything but: including religion. Please note again that I'm not saying we should not go to worship or read the bible or even pray, but I think that sometimes even our religion can get in the way of our growth in faith. And we have to acknowledge this when this happens...so we can stop and be still, and "know that The Lord is God"
I can't do this alone...part of this for me is realizing that I need other people to point me in the right direction and remind me of these simple truths. I truly believe that faith doesn't happen in a vacuum. But I first have to pull the trigger. God does not force His way into us. I daily have to let Him put my self to death so that I can be renewed in him.
More on on the specifics of this in my next post.