My biggest issue over the last 20 plus years relative to growing in grace, and living in the freedom and fullness of Life and my identity in Christ, has been learning to forgive every voice, movement, or messenger, who, under the guise of truth, christian living, or religious performance, has completely misrepresented and distorted the heart of God toward me and others, His character, His purpose and desires for me, His word to me, who I am IN Christ, and the reality of what the gospel really is. It took a long time to dump that junk, and get healed. I struggled for a long time with the insincerity and arrogance of people who claimed to speak for and represent the voice of God, and the controlling, manipulative ways in which they duped and shamed people with passionate & sincere hearts toward God, who had legitimate questions and doubts about their relationship to Him, and His heart and plan for them. I've seen scads of people through the years who have been damaged personally, had their families wrecked, been marginalized, ostracized, and falsely labeled by self-righteous "insiders", and had their faith turned to cynicism and a completely jaded perspective as a result of this religious travesty, and complete misrepresentation of Father God. I watched as much of modern day church in America had a way of keeping its followers in enough uncertainty and question to be able to control them, or “lead” them into conformity to a religious system and construct, instead of pointing and encouraging them, without self-serving motives, into a growing, life-giving, intimate relationship with Christ. Modern day pharisees would justify this spiritual “shell game”, since it had become quite the career builder and entrepreneurial venture to “build” churches, influence people, and market ministry. Maybe they feared that if they sincerely espoused the power and simplicity of Jesus, the reality of the gospel, and the power of the Holy Spirit within His followers to live free, abundant, committed lives to Christ without "strings" of allegiance attached to an institution, personality, or group, they might risk losing their market share, or having their “bottom line” affected. So they became “educated”, and schooled in the commentaries, the Greek, the Hebrew, the lexicons, and so forth, getting “puffed up” with all the spiritual sounding knowledge they could, adding titles and educational credentials to their names to validate their “right” to lead and tell others how to think and what to believe. They appeared to parse it out a little at a time, with a "new revelation" here, a "fresh" interpretation there, or an out-of-context scriptural spin or twist so the “sheeple” would have to continually keep coming back under their leadership to make sure they were living rightly, and getting the right answers--to "keep" their salvation current & "sure". Confusion, mistrust, and even cynicism would set in. In a sense, these “ministers” and spiritual “leaders” sort of became substitutionary relationships with God for them. They controlled through fear, shame, and a personal performance, principle-following narrative. They took on the role of middleman between God and the people. Sound familiar? I wondered what it would be like if Christian leaders were actually more interested in genuinely connecting people to their identities in Christ, equipping them in their gifts and callings, releasing them to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit in every aspect of their lives, encouraging their journeys into His abundant life for them, even if it didn’t include their continued loyalty to or involvement in that leader’s particular venture or organization? Many of them instead seemed to be more focused on building something, "franchising" their faith or movement for the sake of "evangelism" or "winning the lost", establishing their reputation or philosophy, or gathering a following through promoting their influence and perspectives. I thought I was over alot of that stuff years ago as I transitioned out of religious performance into a love-transformed life of grace and power in Christ, but as God began to correct my perspective, and realign me with my true identity in Christ, the light of His love, grace, and truth, unearthed the "ugly" in me. What a vulnerable journey and process it has been. I am learning to let go, forgive, allow Him to love, through me, the “perpetrators and purveyors” of the injustices and misrepresentations of God toward people, and stop trying to be the crusader and activist for those who have been so hurt and disillusioned by religion. God has been reminding me patiently and lovingly that that is NOT my fight, that “they” are not the enemy. I have a call to love and to reflect Him toward the others by His Spirit in and through me. Only His Spirit can lead and guide others into the freedom of truth. The only way to experience freedom from lies, is to encounter the Truth Himself, to reflect that Truth above all--even opinion and tradition--and to begin to see yourself, and others the way HE does! The question is, are you willing to risk reputation, rejection, and even some "relationships", and humble yourself in complete honesty and trust to a loving Father by allowing Him to do this work in you, even if it means letting go of so much baggage and misinformation that you have accumulated as a result of living in a fear-based, shame-inducing, performance-driven existence?