God and Religion are Not the Same
Those who have been hurt by "religion" have been hurt by people, not God.
As hard as it may be to believe, Jesus was not a Christian. He was God, and people have been doing great things, as well as making terrible mistakes trying to be “Christ-like” ever since.
I will be the first to admit, even as a Christian, that religion can be terrible. People do hurtful things to others in the name of religion. Pastors get power hungry and do wrong under the pretense that God has given them that authority. Violence is also committed in the name of God — unspeakable acts that make no sense to the rational mind.
There is a difference between God and religion, though. They are simply not the same.
Religion is defined as “a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing amoral code governing the conduct of human affairs.” Additionally, it can be defined as, “a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects.”
The problem is, while there may be a clear definition for “religion,” no two groups can completely agree on how to interpret God’s Word. This fact is why there are as many denominations as there are books in the Bible. People will probably always agree to disagree on what God expects from us and the best way to practice a belief in Him, but the argument does not change God.
When Jesus came, He came that we all might have life and have it more abundantly (John 10:10). While people will always hurt others, whether it be in the name of religion or not, God will never be the source of that pain. Whenever a person hurts me, I have a very hard time ever wanting to interact with them again. Being hurt by a “religious” person, I imagine, would also take away the desire to want anything to do with their religion.
Everyone makes mistakes, though. Since the fall of man, we have been fantastically imperfect. Finding religion will not change that. By the same token, having a relationship with God will not make us perfect either. What having a true relationship with God will do is give us peace with those imperfections of ourselves and others.
Romans 8:1 says “So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.”
Those who clamor for a new President in the White House every four years, thinking all their problems will be fixed will always be disappointed. Politicians are just people. They will make mistakes and at some point, cause others disappointment. They will forever argue over the original intent of the U.S. Constitution and how to interpret it. Some will even be corrupt and try to manipulate it.
Christians and people of all religions are just people, too.
I certainly don’t have all the answers myself and will never claim to. I do, however, believe I know the one who is the answer. I serve a big God, capable of meeting all my needs if I am willing to forgive those who have wronged me and have faith that He is who He says He is. I will never be perfect but thanks to Him, I’ll never have to be.