When I was a boy, I would walk home from school with a gang of my friends. I still remember trudging through the snow, and shouting. We argued all the way home, and for us there was only one belief. Who had the best car? We didn’t drive cars, or even ride bicycles, but we were passionate believers. I think we mostly believed in the cars that our fathers drove. One friend was the son of a church minister, and he lived in a manse, a house next to a church. He believed in Fords.
We were all deeply convicted, and we knew the others were wrong. We were human beings trying out adult ideas. Since then, I have changed. I still don’t own a Ford, but I am open to the idea.
There are powerful forces in this world. Eighty percent of all humans identify with a religion, and probably the other twenty percent believe something strongly. Some belief systems function like religions, in people’s lives. Believing is a common human experience, just like eating and sleeping.
We all believe. You might have heard the saying “Man is incurably religious.” I don’t know who first said that, possibly a French philosopher, but those words are true. We are a species of believers. We have no record that any animal is religious, and it seems that all humans are believers.
Think about that.
Did you know that Charles Darwin was trained to be a minister of the Church of England? He was never trained to be a ‘naturalist’ as he is called today. Darwin the theologian didn’t answer the question, and evolutionists are still trying to explain how all humans are religious, and no other living thing has that feature.
Religious or spiritual or inspired, we believe, and we organize ourselves into communities where members believe the same things. There is no time in history when humans were not religious. The oldest cave paintings and carvings seem to show spiritual ideas.
Usually, we are born into a religion, and we inherit what our parents gave us. Anyone who leaves their religion knows about social pressure and disappointment from other people. Sometimes the pressure is intense, and even deadly.
So, it’s not popular to leave our religion, but is it wrong?
If you do an Internet search, starting with “ex” and adding the name of any religion, you will get many stories of people who left that religion. There are sites for ex Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Muslims, and almost any religion you can name, including ex Atheists who now believe in God.
One site tells Christians to stop believing in their religion, and to become Muslims.
And there are many stories about people who became Christians.
I should warn you that some “ex” sites are rude and offensive. They are dedicated to trashing the neighbors. They also show something new in this time in history. Millions, possibly billions of people are leaving their religions. It’s the modern way to live.
If it’s wrong to leave your religion, a lot of us are wrong.
We live in strange times; we believe and we quit. It seems that modern people do both now.
I think the biggest struggle of my life was to leave my religion. My family were strong Evangelical Christians and we were taught the fundamentals of Christianity. When I hear stories about other people from fundamentalist religious families, like strict Mormons or Muslims, I know they had the same experience. When I became a young man, I found my own way, and I disappointed some believers.
I am a follower of Jesus, and I believe in God, but I found that for myself; I didn’t just follow the beliefs of my tribe. I remember when someone told me these words “one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize” (Philippians 3: 13 and 14) I am still learning what that means. A real spiritual life is quitting and believing.
I don’t disagree with my family now, but I came to my convictions honestly. My religion has shrunk down to two people, me and God, and I go to a church to find other people like me. I think the whole human race is looking for that. We want to get past conforming to the tribe, and we want to find the God who made us.
That is the biggest struggle of my life.
So, it is not wrong to leave your religion. We all need to find our way back to simple truth.
In a Bible story, one man loved his religion and hated the others. One day he was blinded by a bright light and knocked to the ground. In that state he heard a voice that told him about God. He claimed that a person named Jesus spoke to him and later he wrote this for us:
Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain … (Philippians 3: 7 and 8)
I hope we can all find our way back to the simple truth.