Do you try to be a good person or do you aim to please God?  Tired of following rituals and traditions to earn God’s approval?  I’ve tried for many years to be a good person, following rituals and traditions in order to be right with God.  What I’ve learned is, these things give me religion but God wants a heart to heart connection with me through a relationship with His Son Jesus.   

Got Religion?

I grew up trying to be a good person by going to church and following religious traditions and rituals because I believed it was what God wanted me to do.  I did all these things out of guilt and I did it to earn God’s approval.  Somewhere along the way, I came to believe that doing good works and following religious practices could earn me a right standing with God.  So, I used religion to get to God.

The irony is, I had religion but I didn’t have God.

While in college, I stopped practicing religion because the rituals and practices of religion became tiring and didn’t make much sense to me.  I’d step inside a church to feel good about myself all the while feeling awkward and out of place like an outsider.  I was living an immoral life and felt stuck because I didn’t know how to get out from under the weight of my moral failures.  I had a desire to do right but couldn’t carry it out.  There was a battle raging in my mind and a tug of war in my heart for truth.     

I later discovered the reasons for this pull on my heart between right and wrong living.  You see, God had established his standards for right living to protect me and I wasn’t living in this truth.  Instead of following God’s standards, I tried very hard to keep the practices of religion.  Apart from doing good and being good by keeping religious principles, I was never encouraged or taught to seek after God so I could know him personally.  And since I didn’t have a real connection with God, it was relatively easy to drop the obligatory religion act.   

Consequently, I abandoned religion because it left me confused and empty-hearted. 

How about a Relationship?

Because I approached God through the rituals of religion, my heart was not involved.  When I finally came to God on his terms, it was through a relationship.  A relationship possible only through His Son, Jesus.  From this relationship I have come to know the real God, not the fake gods of religion which I have ignorantly followed for so many years.  Today, I no longer follow the rituals and traditions of religion.  I follow only Jesus. 

As a follower of Jesus, I write this with a heavy heart for many of you who are still choosing religion over relationship.  I empathize with you for I have lived in your state of confusion.  I pray you will to seek to truly understand what and who it is you are following.  Know that Jesus invites you to come to Him.   

In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” 

You who are weary from trying to be good and you who are burdened by the rituals and traditions of religion, Jesus invites you to come.  Come into a relationship with him and He will give you rest so you can be free to love and follow him who died for you.