Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Introduction to My Testimony of How I Came Out of Legalistic Oppressive Religion to Live in Jesus Who Gives Grace and Freedom!

I was in the mood to put a long title haha, this post is in response to some harassing comments you may or may not have noticed! I don't know why I haven't been writing much, but I've certainly been thinking. Anyway, I'm just going to put up the very beginning of the book I'm supposedly writing. Any and all input, critiques, suggestions are not only welcome but highly coveted (to use a very churchy word hahahaha) no but seriously, I value my fellow bloggers' and readers' opinions very much, so don't let me down.

I got saved when I was five years old. If you had asked me what I wanted to do when I grew up I would have said “be a missionary”. I used to hope that I would be martyred for my faith and from about the age of six read every missionary or other great Christian hero biography I could get my hands on, often reading the same books my parents did, my Dad being a pastor and avid reader himself. I have never tried a cigarette, much less any other drug or illegal substance, never tasted alcohol all my growing up years and still to this day have never been drunk.

I remained a virgin until my wedding night and certainly have never been in trouble with the law. From the time I could read I read my Bible every day and as a kid fell asleep ever night listening to ‘Unshackled”, a radio program that dramatized real life testimonies. I defended the kids being made fun of or bullied and witnessed to all my unsaved friends. Oh, and when I had money of course I tithed! No surprise I ended up at Bible college, it had been a dream of mine my whole young life.

As I got older and became a wife and mother, so many other godly duties got added to my list it became difficult to keep up. Now I had to work on being patient, submissive to my husband’s every desire, keeping my house clean , disciplining my children diligently, having meals on the table, maintaining a modest yet beautiful ‘feminine’ appearance, and serving the church in any way I could.

So there it is: the outside of my cup and dish, the whitewashed exterior of my tomb. That’s the game I kept up, or tried to, for most of my twenty-five years or so as a Christian. From the outside it looked pretty good, I think lots of people were impressed. But religion is a dangerous game to play, when you think you’re doing well you’re somewhat happy, comparing yourself favorably with those around you. But when you fail, there is no mercy to fall on. You fall into shame, guilt, condemnation, fear, and hopelessness, and no amount of guilt and fear can give you the power to make it out of that dark pit; the righteousness that God demands from us cannot come from us. Down in that pit the enemy constantly whispers in our ear ‘without holiness no one can see the Lord’ , ‘God hates sin, no sin can enter his presence’, ‘the prayer of a righteous man is fervent and effective’. You have to admit before your accuser that your aren’t sinless, holy , or righteous, because the law which you’ve been living under can only ever show you that you have fallen short of God’s glory and deserve to be eternally condemned. Despair overwhelms you and you are tempted to believe the lie that God is not fair, but a sadistic god who enjoys commanding us to do what he knows it is impossible for us to do, who puts burdens on us that are impossible to carry.

But Jesus said, “Come to me all you who labor and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matt.11:28-30


RJW said...

Are you familiar with the song, "Killing Me Softly?"..."and there he was this young boy, a stranger to my eyes, strumming my pain with his fingers, singing my life with his words..."
I think words are powerful tools and that yours have the authority to open prison doors.
Keep writing.

ps: the aggravation factor-generally effective ;)

lydia joy said...

-that's the link to "Killing Me Softly on YouTube, by the Fugees.......RJW, do you have a song for everything?!!!

Julie, ...harassing, isn't that a bit harsh, haha.....really we just love you!!!
I enjoyed this post and beginning to your book, you have a gift to spell it out short and sweet and to the punch, and that's a powerful punch. No waxing eloquent, just tell it like it is, this is very refreshing!!

Matthew Daelon said...

I also went through a period of wanting to be martyred or persecuted for my faith in Jesus. I guess it was from a motive to prove myself to myself and to God. I thought people who endured such things were very close to God. But when I read the Bible, the early Church didn't really want to be persecuted. They just were.

Anyway...I love this. Please keep writing! Don't give up! You have a great warrior attitude when it comes to the Gospel of God's grace. I love it.

07000intune said...

That is really good and helps people understand more about the authority with which you speak about grace.

The Bible House or Casa Biblica I was in in Emsworth took 3 types of people. New converts with no religious background.People like me and you brought up either in born-again or non-born again churches, and lastly kids from the Spirit-filled families of the stream of churches I was in.

The new converts moved on the fastest. They knew they were sinners, now saved...had nothing to prove..just accepted Jesus grace and moved on with Him.Typically used before long in leadership in the churches.

The churches' own kids and the guys like me took the longest. They used to nickname the churches' kids...Bible House rats. Why? Because they knew every ruse for surviving "seeking of God " meetings without ever touching one ounce of the reality of God...even going to the lengths of bringing onions into the meetings to look "broken".

Me, I was beyond all this ! My deception ran a lot deeper.I always remember the Argentinian leader Daniel Garcia addressing me simply but by the Spirit. At this time for a brief while,I had a girlfriend who was really breaking through with God...having a background of family sex abuse. used to cut herself...but as she broke through she had many amazing worship songs. Anyway Daniel said to me one day..."Your girlfriend is a lot nicer than you are!" And he was right.But that really sliced into my self-righteousness. I was barricading my own spiritual poverty with that horrible middle-class self-righteousness. took about 8 or 9 years before I reached my quick are they who literally crash into the grace of God after being converted out of sin.

dogimo said...

A good start! You should resist the temptation to punch it up a little with a lot of angelic visitations and stuff.

I mean...unless that actually happens! Put it in if it happens!!

Oy, what a flip and jackassian comment for me to leave! Seriously Jul - this is a good start. I think the tone you strike is exactly right. Make it a full-on autobiography from childhood up - whatever you remember that made an impression, that informed your way of looking at either law or grace (or just God, and the world). Deal with your life's experiences and most importantly your inner response to them - both your reaction at the time, and the true lessons you can draw from them now, guided by grace and God's love.

> But when you fail, there is no mercy to fall on.

This is the crux right here. How right you are. When we live under law, Christians have no mercy for each other. We have no room for mercy, because each of us is in our own lonely, frantic and desperate struggle, and each of us stiving not to let on. We look to any "bright, shining" Christian as an example that it is actually possible to live like this happily (translation: "See - it can be done! There's just something wrong with ME that I can't do it!")

And then when one of our bright, shining examples falls, we turn on them - either by turning our backs in shame, the "shun" treatment, or by actually turning on them with a viciousness borne of the felt betrayal.

What mercy can we show to each other, when we are our own worst judges and jailers?

jul said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts everyone, maybe I'll put up the next section me motivation for actually typing it up...