Our preconceived religious beliefs are some of our greatest hindrances. Generally speaking we “catch” our doctrines, our beliefs from what we hear and what we read, not necessarily from what the Lord Himself has revealed to us. So part of the process of bringing us into relationship with Him is that He brings to the surface the sources and foundations of what we believe, often by putting us into situations where those beliefs are tested. Since none of us has all the truth, at least some of what each of us believes is probably questionable. We need to be willing to change our mind, to submit what we believe to scrutiny, realizing that what is Truth will stand up under inspection. It is not faith in what we believe that is important, but faith in the living Person of Jesus Himself.
Religion also hampers our fulfillment of our purpose now through those we have placed in authority over us. We often subtly believe that making our leaders happy also makes God happy. Well, first, God is not depending on us or anyone else to make Him happy. Second, our relationship with God is between Him and us and no one else. This gives God and us the only authority over that relationship, and everything that springs from it. If you want to get along with God, stay out of His chair — and don’t let anyone else sit in it either! Don’t let others establish standards for pleasing God, or give in to others’ expectations of service or conditions of salvation. God is a jealous God, so don’t give others the authority over your spiritual life and walk that God has reserved for Himself.
Religion is diametrically opposed to the freedom that Jesus purchased for us 2000 years ago. The object of appropriate doctrinal teaching is not knowing, but coming freely and unencumbered — “as is.” The truth we learn is to bring us to Him, and until we commit ourselves to the implication of that truth, we haven’t learned, even if we pass every so-called test. The true test is whether we come. This is why we often find ourselves dealing with the same issues in our lives over and over again, because we hear and know but we don’t respond, and come.
Religion will try to be like Jesus, “What Would Jesus Do,” when in reality only Jesus can do, through us, what Jesus does. Trying to be like Jesus is acting, and acting is still acting, not being, no matter how good it looks. As we learn to depend on God we are free to “be” who we are, confident that the “doing” will line up over time with that reality.