Getting out of burdensome, cyclical religion...
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
– Jesus, Matthew 11:28&29
Last week I had the privilege of sharing lunch with a man in his 70's (I'm guessing). We've talked on a few occasions, but something he said one of the first times we talked has stayed with me. After having grown up in a pentecostal home and living a religiously honorable life for decades, he told me that 6 months ago he finally found a God that loved him. Only 6 months ago. This same God, for so long was scary, mean, vindictive, oppressive, manipulative, and insecure, but suddenly, there was an unveiling; a revealing and an understanding.
It broke my heart to think of there being a veil between he and God that distorted God to be something other than Love. It broke my heart because it's a familiar experience to me and I know that I could not have handled living with that kind of fear and oppression for as long as he innocently and faithfully did.
The "veils" in our lives are things, whether emotional, theological, or experiential, that we don't question or consider. They're predominantly sub-conscious. For instance, if we had a negative feeling, experience, or impression about God when we were little kids and just ignore it, never question it, never reconcile with it, never forgive it, and/or grow past it, it becomes a subtle filter or lens through which we look at God that colors everything we see. But this veil shows us far more about our condition than it does about God's character.
Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate (reflect) the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
– 2 Corinthians 3:17&18
Unveiling takes courage and trust. Often we contemplate (reflect) the image of God that we've been given and miss the truth of who He is. This truth really does set us free. If our "truth" of God does anything but free us, we're seeing through a veil and reflecting it rather than the Reality of God.
If we're afraid of God because (through our veil of experience or education) He looks scary, we get afraid to think of Him differently because He might then "smite" or punish us. This is cyclical religious bondage and robs us of experiencing the intention of Christ. Begin with belief in the Love of Christ and the abiding Presence of God before leaping to belief in sin. Too often we just reduce these two things (which are one and the same) down to being an answer to sin. That is a tricky way of becoming more self-centered and self-absorbed. Christ is so much more. So much more.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.
– Galatians 5:1
Freedom means nothing if we are not able to experience the freedom of giving and receiving Love in all and through all.