I grew up knowing God, but not really knowing him.
I want to tell you about my personal experience of an encounter with God that changed my life. What happened to me demonstrates a real Jesus who is not interested in theology or dogma, denomination or sect, but he is interested in people knowing him as a real man who lived, died and was raised to life to save us.
I know all about religion. I grew up in a strict religion, one which followed rules which were said to set us apart from others as God’s chosen people. The Sabbath was kept as Saturday and we observed the Old Testament Jewish festivals and food laws, while believing in the resurrection of Jesus.
I read my bible, and knew all the stories. I had faith, and prayed in Jesus name, and saw God answered prayer. On one occasion I was really scared because we were taught it was a sin to wear makeup, and the church we were in changed their mind on this and decided we could. I was so afraid of doing the wrong thing that I prayed to God that if it was OK to wear make up that he would knock my perfume bottle over.
One morning I woke up and the perfume bottle was knocked over. That's the first time God spoke to me.
Religion v. Relationship
What Is Salvation
- Josie's Blog: What is Salvation?
How do we know when we where saved, or if we are, or what we have to do to have eternal life? God saved me at a stage in my life when I wasn't giving him any acknowledgement. Salvation must be seen through God's eyes as a journey.
My Teenage Years
As a Teenager I began to question my beliefs. I met people from other churches who seemed to really love God, and wondered why I was being taught that they were not 'in' because they weren’t keeping the right rules. They had more love for God than me, and sincere devotion, so what made me special?
I also started looking at all the Old Testament rules and couldn't understand how they could pick and chose the ones to follow. No-one was being put to death or stoned.
I decided that no-one really knew what the bible was, or could verify its contents, and that God could be there but if he was we couldn't say what he thought. I left the church I was raised in.
What overwhelmed me when I left was a great relief. I didn't feel guilty anymore. I also felt a surge of love for my relatives and friends that I had previously felt a gulf between because of my religion. I thought that if God was love, then why was I feeling more love outside of church?
A Life Without God
After that I firmly believed that whether there was a God or not no-one could possibly say that they had it right. There were so many different churches that all had their own traditions so who knew what was right or wrong. I lived my own wild life and tried not to think about whether God existed.
I had been so doctrinally entrenched in my childhood that the thought of believing in God came with an idea that it meant following all those rules again which I just abhorred and couldn’t see the sense of. Although this example I had was extreme, I saw the same structure of requirements in all the mainstream religions I came into contact with.
The thought of going to church to me meant taking back a burden that I was relieved on when I left church. There was no way I could trust anyone to teach me their view on God.
So I lived my life like I didn't know there was a God. I was happy, successful, and not at a low point at all when God came to me.
The Apostle Paul's conversion
The Moment that Changed my Life
It was a time in my life when I thought I was happy, married with a child and a successful career that I had an experience much like Paul’s when he was on the road to Damascus. Many could dismiss what I am about to explain as being my imagination, however the way it changed my life I would respectfully say as an intelligent human being shows it was not.
I was walking my dog along a dirt track thinking about not much in particular when God spoke to my heart. It was like He was looking down on me. The words were not audible but came with understanding deep in my soul.
He said I am real, Jesus was a real person who really died on a cross for your sins and that it was all about Love. At that moment knowledge was infused into my soul like cream filling into the centre of a cream bun. I could see in my minds eye all the different churches with their traditions and how God didn’t care about those things. They were insignificant. It was a person’s heart that he cared about.
God told me that the bible needed to be looked at in historical context. I felt so free. I had eternity in my heart and it was all very very real, rather than the cameo world of religion that churches had made it. Jesus loved me, died for me and was there for me.
So from then on I started reading my bible and growing in my relationship with Jesus. Not my relationship with any church or any church leader. I love him, and he loves me.
The problem from that moment was that I didn't want to go to church. I was afraid of that freedom and love I felt being taken away from me, but I did eventually go to church and it wasn't that bad.
What I have had since this time is a desire for ministry, and to help set people free from religion in the form of rules as opposed to a relationship with God. I always go back to my revelation as it is the basis for my understanding.
We don't need a particular church, we just need a real man who loves us and died for us.
Religion v. Relationship
As I said ever since that moment I have had a passion for ministry. I have asked God to remove this from me if it wasn't my destiny, and he still hasn't. I know exactly my purpose, and it is to teach people about how to rid themselves of Pharisaical attitudes that are riddled through the churches. These are the attitudes of pride, and Christian show that are throughout the church. It is most commonly referred to as hypocricy.
There is a conflict between the yeast of the Pharisees and the kingdom yeast which is essentially love. This all comes out of my revelation and experience in a rule based church. I believe respecting the authorities in this regard, and bringing respectful correction.
If you are confused about the requirements of God, please hold my testimony close to you, and ask God to make my revelation your own. It will free you and allow you to move on to a better life with Jesus.