i was born into a catholic home. i dont know what affiliation, if any, my father may have had. but since he left before my first birthday, it doesnt really matter. my mother was, still is, a dyed in the wool catholic, and descends from a long line of catholics. she was persecuted in grade school for being catholic. chased home many times with rocks thrown at her, being called ‘cat-licker’. so she sent me to a catholic school. there, i was tormented by the ‘better’ children, and called possum, and otherwise ostracized.
at this school i was taught about a God who was loving, but rather distant. one had to go thru others who were deemed authorized by the church, to talk to Him. people like priests and dead catholics whom the church had declared saints. and mary, the eternal virgin mother. t6hese were all considered more willing and ready to listen, and then take one’s prayers to God for one.
the funny thing about this was that this distant God was always tugging at my heart Himself. and there were two at my church/school who seemed to know Jesus first hand. you could tell by how they talked about Him, as well as what they said. one was my fifth grade teacher, a young woman just beginning her teaching career, and the niece of the head priest. she told us in religion class one day that salvation was a choice. intriguing concept, in a world where one is taught that the ritual of infant baptism, and later confirmation, was the ticket to heaven. that, of course, and paying for your sins in purgatory. it was kind of a done deal.
after i entered junior high school, i found the doctrines of the catholic church to be empty. there was so much to remember, and never any real certainty about anything. infant baptism was supposed to get you onto heaven, but there were so many ways to lose your salvation it was scary. mortal sins, like murder and suicide were the worst. venial sins were those ‘light’ sins, like lying or stealing, and repeating certain prayers kind of cleaned the slate, and knocked off time to be spent in the fires of purgatory before one was clean enough for heaven. none of it seemed real.
but the thing that bothered me the most was something the catholic church has in common with every other religious order. the idea that God does things to you, or allows things to happen, to teach you some lesson that you have to figure out on your own. and that God will punish you if you dont walk the line. the bottom line is that this religious God is looking for servants, not sons.
when i left the catholic church, i kind of just drifted away. but i encountered plenty of religious people along the way. most were professing to be Christian, and perhaps they were. there are a good many religious minded people that are Christian true enough. but they walk in a legalistic system because they dont see how God could keep His people in line any other way. they dont realize that the Holy Spirit is far stricter, ruling the heart from the inside by way of conviction, than any law could be from the outside, ruling only the behavior.
when i surrendered to the pursuits of a God who was looking for relationship with me, that is when i totally lost my religion for good. that is when i entered a covenant with the King of the universe. at His cost. i have met plenty more religious minded people since then. the churches are full of them. they are very little, if any, threat to the devil. but i have also met those who know who they are in Christ. thats what i want. to know who, and what, i am in Christ.
thats why i see myself as a Christian in a religious world.