26 February, 2015

God is Not a God of Rules and Oppression

Today I came across a blog from an incredible woman making her own way after leaving an incredibly spiritually abusive home. She broke away from her family, went to school, and is trying to come alongside others, while finding a faith that is real and true.

A friend of hers still lives in a home where manipulation and control are used to keep their 20 year old daughter under their control. From the way she wrote, the “church” (term used very loosely) sounds more like a cult.

Simply put: Christ – God – Faith – Salvation – Christianity – whatever term you want to use is not a series of rules. You do not show your faith by not doing things. Your entrance to heaven is not determined by your clothes, the car you drive, what you listen to, or who you vote for.
Man puts so many rules on faith that do not come from God. All they do is keep us from coming to know God in a real way.

God is not some dictator, some authoritarian who demands devotion by a list of dos and don’ts. That is not the God of the Bible. That is not how Jesus lived. The people overcome by rules and do lists existed in Jesus’ time and he spent a lot of time speaking out against them.

Faith is not action – or not legalized action. It is not wearing skirts to your ankles, only listening to hymns with harps, never reading or viewing anything that makes you think. It is not all the constructs, rules and parameters that people put around it.

I have seen too many people ruined, too many people hurt, too many faiths destroyed by people who treat faith and God as some evil deity to appease rather than someone who is full of love, grace, compassion, empathy, healing, joy and community.

I applaud this woman for her courage, for her ability to stand in the gap. She is a light to those who realize how they were raised is not right, and yet still want to know this incredible God in a real way.

Yet at the end she makes a humbling statement: they will not leave until they are ready. We cannot make those we love escape something harmful. We cannot help them see who God is until they are ready. But the glory of it all is that God, the true God who created the world, knows each of us down to our bones, wants us to come to know Him fully, is only a page turn away.

Last year I was challenged to read the scripture for scripture sake. I asked God to remove the lies I was raised with and show me His heart behind His words. It has been remarkable. 

God is not the rules, hatred, fear, oppression, or domination that man has put on Him. He is not the abuse, manipulation, control and isolation of the writer’s friend’s “church.”

He is the God of freedom, of life, of light and peace. He is the God of breaking bread with those we do not understand and loving those around us with deep unconditionally. He is a one-on-one God who desires that all His children come to know Him intimately, for themselves.

Spiritual abuse is so hard to come back from because it tends to so deeply shape who we are. Yet if we can give God our beaten and tattered theology, and come to Him with an open heart, He will give us so much more than we could ever have expected.

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© Amanda Lunday