I Refuse to be Religious

Emily - Mt.Vernon, Kentucky
Entered on March 31, 2008
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe in being real with myself. I believe in not doing what’s right because someone told me to, but because I want to. I believe in not living my life in hypocrisy. I believe that having religion is not the same as having faith.

I have spent most of my life being religious. To me, being religious is doing what’s right because you are supposed to, and looking down on others that don’t do the same. Also, religion is about following the rules to be noticed by people; in other words, it’s about being a Pharisee.

My life as a Pharisee started at a young age. When I was little, I did what my parents asked of me. Life was easy being a religious Pharisee because I didn’t have to think about it; I was just doing my duty. Everyone thought I was such a good person—and, to be honest, I liked the attention I got. That is what a religious robot driven by hypocrisy looks like. As I got older this legalistic, or rule following, attitude affected how I viewed people and how I viewed God.

When I was about fourteen years old I realized how wrong my attitude was. This is the time that I met my youth pastor. From his life I saw how wrong I had been, because he truly loved the Lord with all of his heart, and his attitude toward people showed it. Then I knew that there had to be more to “religion.” I didn’t want to face the ugly truth, so I ignored it. Self-righteousness, pride, and lies filled my heart. I was like a cup that looks really clean on the outside, but on the inside, it’s full of dirt. I had no faith, mercy, or love because religion killed all three.

When I was fourteen, I had an epiphany. I was at a leadership camp, and we were talking about legalism. My counselor told me to read something in the Bible. I read it, and by the time I had got to the end, I was crying. I knew that it was speaking to me. In the passage, Jesus was talking to the Pharisees (me!). Here are just a few of the things He said:

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” Matthew 23: 27-28

I had finally come to the point where I couldn’t hide from it anymore. I couldn’t be a Pharisee another day; I would either have to get real or go home. I chose to get real.

I want to rise above a life of mediocrity. I will not be religious anymore, I refuse! I want to live a life of faith.