Opinion: Religion Can Keep You From Knowing Jesus
By Michal Ortner
Autumn Miles is the founder and CEO of Blush Network, a ministry based around conferences for women that challenges their walk with Christ. She is also the author of Appointed. In her latest blog, “How Religion Keeps You From Knowing Jesus,” she shares the difficulties of church culture in relation to a deep and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.
Miles grew up attending a small church in Indiana. She says that she enjoyed the services and being a part of church activities. She was taught all of the popular stories of the Bible and given a foundation in Biblical truth. She remembers the flannel boards that portrayed Bible characters and puppet shows that took place in Children’s Church.
With age, she began learning how to apply Scripture to her life. She was taught about abstinence and dressing modestly. She says that she was amazed at all of the information she could retain and that she strove to live out the Biblical principals in her adult life. But she realized that she was also picking up on other things at church.
“Somewhere along the way, I picked up extra rules that—as I look back now—didn’t appear in the Bible at all. With the education of Scripture also came the inundation of religion. I learned the art of always appearing perfect because that’s what I thought Jesus wanted. I looked down on people if they struggled with a sin outwardly because, for some reason, I believed Jesus looked down on them,” she wrote.
Miles says that she would live in deep guilt if she ever fell away from the principals that she was taught in church. She deeply feared the disapproval of Jesus. This was a result of “adopting the mentality that Jesus judges.”
Rather than living up to the great standards she had set for herself, Miles found herself making poor decisions. From an abusive spouse to completely shutting God out of her life, Miles felt completely at odds with God, which led to suicidal thoughts at times.
“What religion sometimes teaches, Jesus never preaches. I lived in a twisted vortex of perception in my mind until one night I couldn’t take it any longer. I knew I needed rescue from my abusive husband and my own thoughts. The pressure of the two was too much to bear,” Miles shared.
One night, after contemplating suicide, she heard a gentle voice asking, “Do you remember Me?”
“With my hands shaking, I grabbed my dusty Bible and flipped open the pages. With that, He told me, ‘The righteous will have long life.’”
“All the religion in the world cannot paint a clear picture of the grace of Jesus, because when I found Him, He looked nothing like religion,” she added.
“Maybe the Jesus you think you know looks a lot like whom I imagined. Maybe you’re struggling with guilt and fear. If you think Jesus has given up on you, take time to get to know the real Jesus. I promise, He’s more than you could ever imagine,” Miles concluded.
Michal Ortner is the author of several inspiring christian literature and also a freelance writer.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.