I was going through some old files on my hard drive and stumbled across this breakup letter I wrote in 2005. Sometimes I forget how long the process has been for me to live as one fully extracted from the trappings of status-quo, Bible-Belt Christianity. Based on the original date, I am going on my fifteenth year of militantly refusing to embrace pre-packaged versions of Christianity. Whereas it has been easier for me to personally live free of spirit of religion, it was much more of a challenge to lead others out of it as a pastor. I post this archived blog today as a point of reference for what it means for leaders to refuse denominational demands, traditions of man that are passed off as God’s truth, and overt legalism that brings people int religious bondage. My hope is that God will continue to raise up Reformers who refuse to settle for anything less than the fulness of holiness and freedom that Jesus shed His blood in order for us to possess.
September 20, 2005
It has been a long journey together, but today I need to let you know that I have finally decided to leave you for good. You may be surprised by what seems like a sudden decision on my part but, if you will search your heart, you will have to confess that you likely saw this coming. Although you know me so well, I feel compelled to walk away from you forever today. We both know that most breakups occur with the one leaving saying something like, “It’s not you. It’s me.” That is not the case with us. It’s you. That is right, Religion, this is 100% on you. I have experienced enough of your ways to finally conclude that you are beneath me. Religion, please believe me when I say that you are not worthy of my time and devotion. I cannot spend another day in any sort of ongoing relationship with you. Not only do I no longer find you attractive, I have met Someone else. You used to pretend like you were Him, and you had me fooled in earlier years after I ignorantly gave myself to you. Things are different now because He has called me to make a choice between you and Him. My decision has been made and I am making it official today: I am breaking up with you and fully devoting myself to Jesus. He’s awesome, and I am in love with Him.
Religion, you used to make me feel secure. You were a whole lot better than the one I was with before I met you, that’s for sure. Rebellion was a terrible partner, and I really do appreciate the fact that you were there for me when Rebellion and I could no longer walk together. You seemed safe when I knew that Rebellion had put a hit out on me. He would have killed me if I had not learned of you. I owed you something for that, I suppose, but I have far surpassed paying off that debt. If I am being honest, Religion, you were initially attractive to me too with all the discipline you brought to my crazy life back then! I guess I should thank you for that too seeing as how you were the one who introduced me to God’s Word and encouraged me to have all confidence in that Book. In reality though, I ran to you on the rebound after Rebellion and I reached our end. You took me in and made me feel like I belonged somewhere. But then you started utilizing guilt and shame to control me. You misrepresented God to me. You really knew how to twist the Bible to get what you always wanted out of me. I never felt like I measured up to your expectations, Religion, and, frankly, it exhausted me trying to make you happy. I poured everything out that I could offer but, when I went to bed at night, I always felt like I needed to be and do more to satisfy your demands. Religion, please don’t take this too personally, but I found myself no longer attracted to you a long time ago. Don’t get me wrong, you always looked immaculate on the outside but, honestly, there wasn’t much to you beyond what we saw externally. Has anyone else ever told you how superficial and fake you are? You have no joy, Religion. You don’t know how to love either. It was weird that you had all that control and authority, but I finally realized that you have no real power outside of guilt-driven manipulation. I needed help on my insides and you just don’t have what it takes. I lost my true self in you for a while, Religion, and you didn’t care. I was just another conquest to you.
When I was at my lowest with you, that is when I met Him. Jesus came and spoke to me with understanding, compassion and hope. He won me on, like, the very first day. I knew that He loved me like nobody else ever could. But I also knew that I could not be fully His until I decided what I would do about you. He does not share those whom He loves with anyone else. He’s humble, but He calls me to undivided devotion. What would people say if I left you? Would I lose the friends that we had in common? Would you talk badly about me, Religion, if I mustered up the courage to leave you? Jesus kept showing up and making Himself irresistible to me. Really, Religion, if anyone is to blame for ending our relationship, it is Jesus. You may need to take it up with Him because I have fully committed to Him now. He is very tender but is also amazingly strong. He tells me that I can’t flirt with you ever again, Religion. He tells me that you have actually seduced so many others that He views you as a true enemy to His Kingdom and glory. He called you a prostitute – I did not know He would talk like that, but Jesus is no softy for sure. Religion, you may not know this but Jesus does not like you at all. He told me that His enemy, Satan, is actually very good friends with you! How did I miss that during all the years you and I were together? When I really understood that fact, I knew I had to leave you. I do not make any apologies to you, Religion. You are a deceiver. You are a controller. Jesus was born of the Holy Spirit, but you are the offspring of the devil and human reasoning. You do not even know the Holy Spirit. I will not marry into your family! As a matter of fact, when I see you courting other people, seducing them like you did me, I plan to expose you to them. Do not ask me, “Can’t we still be friends?” The answer is a big, fat “There is no way in Heaven that I will be your friend again!” You need to hear this from me, Religion: We. Are. Finished.
I am not proud for straddling the fence on this decision for so long, going back and forth between you and Jesus. It makes me feel like a fool even thinking about how I vacillated when His offer was so pure and good. I should have run away from you and into His arms a long time ago. I am just now, today, finally able to take courage and say that I am leaving you for good and going to be with Him forever. It may sound scandalous to you because you think I owe you something. I do not. I do owe Jesus everything but, surprisingly, He makes it seem like our relationship is all about what He has done for me, and what He wants to do in the future. His kindness and mercy and grace and love make it so easy for me to give myself fully to Him. He has never tried to lead me deeper in my commitments to Him by making me feel unworthy or ashamed. I always felt those things when I was with you. It is likely true that you have plenty of others who will continue to lay down next to you. Not me, though. I am so over you.
So, I hope you will understand the finality of what I have written. You and I are forever done, Religion. Please do not come knocking or calling. Don’t text me or try to connect with me on the internet. Jesus taught me your scent, so I will sniff you out before you get to me again. I will be alerting others to your musty fragrance too – it reminds me of mothballs and rust all rolled into one stench. In spite of my efforts, I am sure you will continue to have plenty of willing people to satisfy your need to shame and control. You just need to go ahead and take my name off your list.
I have found my true Love, and today’s decision to leave you and follow Him is ridiculously easy. I cannot wait to see how my life is going to change after kicking you to the curb.
Dogmatically and sincerely,
Give to the ministry