As a teenager, I had my share of rock ‘n roll idols. I loved getting the latest fan magazines to see what treasured facts I could learn about my idol. I bought all the newly-released records and listened to them over and over again. I spent countless hours imagining a make-believe relationship with someone I did not even know personally. It seemed insignificant that the idol certainly did not know and probably would not care that I existed. I shudder to think how much time I wasted on a mere illusion. I never really wanted to meet the actual person, who might not like me at all. That would have destroyed the illusion.
Religion is much the same. We form congregations, activities, committees, and study-groups so that we can learn more about God.
We hone our image of God and create doctrines. Then we fashion rules and regulations to support our doctrines. Many people who faithfully attend and participate in church never get to know God personally.
Religion provides a false sense of security. There is little or no risk involved. Just as I could change my make-believe relationship with an idol to suit my ideas or moods, people cling to religion for the same reason. I had no idea what the real person was like, but it did not matter. I could make the illusion into whatever I desired at the time. Learning facts about God and performing rituals is a far cry from having a relationship with YHVH.
Are we afraid that YHVH will not like us if we relate directly to Him? It is too late to worry about that. He created us, knows us intimately and already loves us. Is YHVH truly different from what we have learned or imagined? I believe that is often the case. Are we afraid that we will not like the real YHVH as much as our imaginary one?
For many years, I settled for religion. When I discovered that a genuine relationship was possible, I hesitated. What if YHVH didn’t like me? It took some time to get up the courage to give my life to Yeshua, but I finally made a timid effort. What happened? I was flooded with more love and acceptance than I could ever have anticipated, despite all my sins and shortcomings. I discovered that Yeshua and His Father far surpass any illusion I could have dreamed up.
Religion keeps us stagnant. Relationship with YHVH changes and renews us. If you have not done so already, I encourage you to go ahead and take the risk. Tell Yeshua and Abba that you would like to know them personally. It will be the best risk you ever take. If you are still unsure, meditate on Psalm 139.