Why My Religion Didn’t Help Me In the Wilderness

Inside: Religion doesn’t save and religion didn’t help when I was going through difficult seasons. I was missing a personal relationship with Jesus.

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Why My Religion Didn't Help Me In the Wilderness. Religion doesn't save and religion didn't help when I was going through difficult seasons. I was missing a relationship with Jesus. #religion #relationshipwithJesus #law #grace #christian

I grew up going to a Christian grade school and high school. All through both schools, I learned memory work which included passages, creeds, and articles. I could spew them out like nobody’s business.

Every week, I attended church, but in light of all the “stuff” I knew, I didn’t know Jesus. 

Once I was out in barren lands, my creeds and articles really didn’t help me. I didn’t have a genuine faith.

I had religion, but I was missing the relationship.

Why My Religion Didn't Help Me In the Wilderness. Religion doesn't save and religion didn't help when I was going through difficult seasons. I was missing a relationship with Jesus. #religion #relationshipwithJesus #law #grace #christian

 

Putting things into memory can many times, leave out the internalization part.

Head knowledge is great, but the Bible needs us to stick it into our hearts.

When my life was going well, I was fine. A hard hit in the backcountry was another story.

Even with all that time I had spent putting passages into my head, I needed to start at ground zero with a relationship with Jesus.

The Relationship

In the past, I had wanted God to act a certain way. He had, in my mind, acted correctly for all those years until I hit a rough patch. Now, I wanted Him to do something.

I selfishly admit I treated God like a puppet or even a toy. My story was created the way I wanted it to. God was a great distance from me, and I might interact with Him a little at church.

As I was preparing this, I kept thinking over and over about how I was just like the Pharisee.

I kept all the “laws” I had learned, but I never took the time, or desire to get to know Jesus, Intimately and personally.

I was a big old hypocrite.

My outside appearance was always on point, but my heart was a huge mess.

That heart of mine, it was aching. I thought it wanted something more of the world, but it was actually aching for Jesus.

Here’s what religion taught me:

  • Look at outside, but hide the inside.
  • I should be concerned what other’s thought.
  • Demand others uphold certain things, but then I duck out myself.
  • Focus on the past, not the present.

 The Pharisee

I had never really paid attention to the Pharisee Nicodemus before until I looked back on my past actions. The wilderness really revealed my Christian living.

Nicodemus was part of the Pharisees, and also a member of the Sanhedrin. These guys knew their Bible trivia inside and out. They were considered the really religious guys.

The Pharisees didn’t like Jesus because He crippled their authority and tested their views.

Nick was different, this Jesus guy pulled at his heart.

Religion started to feel a little hollow, so Nick had to reach out and form a relationship with Jesus. Nick was scared and didn’t want to be fear-mongered by his Pharisee friends, so he sought out Jesus at night.

Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God.”

“What do you mean?” exclaimed Nicodemus. “How can an old man go back into his mother’s womb and be born again” (John 3:3-4, NLT).

What can we learn from Nick?

  • Come to Jesus personally. We can’t believe our parent’s faith or even our “religion’s faith.” We need a personal faith.
  • Study Jesus for ourselves. We need to be personally convicted, our religion can’t do it for us.
  • We need to deal with our insides, our outsides won’t get us to Heaven.
  • Bible knowledge isn’t heart-knowledge.

Here’s the deal, God wants a personal relationship with us.

An honest, ever-growing connection. He demands genuine faith and obedience.

Religion might get us to confess and repent, but are we doing it because it’s been taught, or are we doing it because Jesus moves us?

Are we faithfully going to church on Sundays, or are we desiring more of God’s presence daily?

Are you looking for help to endure this season? Here’s the secret:

God's Power happens in the relationship, not in the religion. Click To Tweet

Knowing Jesus in an intimate way spurs me on to practice a religion based on the personal Jesus of the Bible.

 

Sharing this post at: #MomentsofHope, #InspireMeMondays, #PartyonthePorch, #TestimonyTuesday, #FMTM, #RaRalinkup

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28 thoughts on “Why My Religion Didn’t Help Me In the Wilderness

  1. Having been raised in a Christian home, I definitely had to learn that transition from having my parent’s faith to having my own relationship with God. It’s so much more than a religion and when we really understand the gospel at play in our lives, it changes us. We can be all put together on the outside but we are just whitewashed tombs without the saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. Amanda- so good to see you here! I’m so glad it’s changed from religion to relationship. It makes a huge difference doesn’t it? Life becomes fun when we are adventuring with Jesus!

    Have a great week!
    Julie

  3. I so identify with this, Julie! I was a christian long before I was saved. Long before I had a relationship with Christ (the kind that transforms, makes you new, and fills you with the Holy Spirit to seek and serve Him!) I believed in some God who was mostly just there to be mad at or to blame or to beg or…basically, to revolve around and serve ME. What a difference. Thanks for speaking clearly on this topic and on the truth of the relationship we are all invited to with Jesus!

  4. Amen, Julie. There is a world of difference between knowing the word and experiencing it’s truth in our own lives. It’s such a beautiful gift that God desires that intimate relationship and fellowship with us, and that we can embrace that with fullness and authenticity. Beautiful encouragement today to know Him more. Visiting from #RaRalinkup.

  5. God’s Power happens in the relationship, not in the religion. (just tweeted this) Its an awesome one on one relationship that we are privileged to have! Praise God.
    Sue

  6. I grew up in a more “outward” religion, too, Julie. I had the head knowledge, but I was missing the heart relationship. I’m so glad that the Lord woke me up and allowed me to see what I was missing. Thanks for sharing your story; I relate.

  7. Amen! I love this! I’ve always had a hard time with the word “religion”. My relationship with Jesus is so much more than the word religion could ever convey. I loved your example of “Nick” and how our faith needs to be personal, penetrating our heart. Blessings to you today, Julie!

  8. Such an important testimony! Salvation from religion often gets ignored while we focus on those who are saved from deep lives of sin, but our stinky self-righteousness may be the biggest sin of all!

  9. Great post! It is easy to get caught up in “following the rules” and how things look outwardly. It makes such a difference when the knowledge of Jesus goes from our heads to our hearts and begins to really transform us.

  10. Hi Julie! I loved all of this, but this line jumped out at me: “Religion might get us to confess and repent, but are we doing it because it’s been taught, or are we doing it because Jesus moves us?”

    I can honestly say there has never been a time I doubted God’s existence. I had attended church most of my childhood and my mom read children’s Bible stories to me every night. I felt God in my life. I felt His presence, but I didn’t know Him nor His Word. Yet, He never left me. He waited. Then the day finally came where my eyes were opened. I saw Him as the Jesus right there. Not the God far away. I met Him all over again and He redeemed my life.

    Yes, yes, yes … relationship is critical. It’s life-giving. It’s not only about head knowledge, but about the heart knowledge that is even more important!

    I’m so thankful for your involvement in #MomentsofHope. Your words are authentic and filled with hope. I am honored to have you come alongside me in the sharing of hope with the world!
    Blessings, my friend!
    Lori

    1. Lori- I also knew there was a God, but He was rather grumpy with me (like my parents could be). God is so great, we keep being re-introduced to His greatness throughout our lives. I’m amazed how I read a story in the Bible and every time, it’s like a something pops out that I didn’t notice before. He keeps me on my toes;)
      Thank you for your bundles of encouragement!
      Julie

  11. Linda- so glad you found the relationship! What a great cheerleader you are with your life story.
    Thanks for stopping!
    Julie

  12. I’m so glad you found Him, Julie! The motivation of the heart is what truly matters. God knows all and those who truly seek Him, will find Him. God bless you for sharing your testimony!

    1. June- thank you! I have a lot of further work to do! He’s working in me, although too slow for my happiness.

      Blessings to you on the rest of your week!
      Julie

  13. I love this Julie! There is a huge difference in head knowledge and heart knowledge! Praising God today for His salvation! Thank you for sharing this so many need to hear this message of hope!

    1. Thanks Lisa! Joining you in praising Him for His salvation, and leading us all through the hard times where He grasps our hand firmly!

      Have a great rest of the week!
      Julie

  14. Powerful honesty. I think if we were similarly honest, we would all see ourselves there! But being aware is a great place to start… it’s there that God meets us and invites us to know Him. Thanks for sharing!

  15. Amen, and amen! The most difficult part for me at this point in life is remembering that I have done my parenting. My adult children have to discover these truths on their own.

    1. Anita- I have read that the best parenting happens on our knees in prayer. Even though you have adult children now, you can be praying they discover these truths soon.
      Have a great rest of the week and weekend too!
      Julie

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