Religious people suck. I’ve been around them most of my life. I’ve always been drawn to mystical teachings of jesus. I love philosophy. I love trying to figure out meanings. I don’t know, it’s a curse I guess. Well, to be drawn to these things it’s typically going to lead you to a group of religious people. I grew up in church. I went to a church college after high school. I went for 2 years before I left because I realized I ended up at church camp on steroids. Some of my closest friends came from these 2 experiences. I’ve never regretted where I was or what I did. I still hold the Mountain West church and Lee University in the highest of extremes. My friends weren’t the religious people though and that scared me. Most of my friends from my youth don’t attend any church any more. My friends from Lee were the ones that didn’t really buy into attending church services 3 times a week.
It’s funny, most of my closest friends were part of my elaborate scheme to get out of chapel. I was on such severe chapel probation that I could only miss one chapel service the entire semester. I had to meet with the discipline czar. I was in danger of being kicked out of school. I had a 3.0 average. I thought this is stupid. I wanted to say, “If you knew my other extracurricular activities of bars, dancing and fornication, surely you’ll kick me out before missing a few church services.” I put in my paperwork to transfer to Georgia Tech. I knew this was probably my last semester. I could’ve just rode it out, got kicked out of school and been fine, because all Georgia Tech cared about was my grades and that I could pass calculus. I decided to get a job working for the chapel office. I wasn’t going to get chapel probation because I was being paid to work it. I didn’t have to sit in the service and I could hang out in the back. Best of both worlds, well it didn’t take me long to exploit the situation. I soon realized that I could help others in my same need. I had the power. I had a scanner. It scanned the student ID’s that would prove, “Yes, I attended church today.” We scanned ID’s at the end of service. I just collected ID’s from people that wanted to be counted present and scanned them for a small fee. It was a way to make money and stick it to the man. It was like a modern day underground church railroad. I was freeing the slaves. By the end, I was scanning 20-30 ID’s a service. I left for Georgia Tech and there was none the wiser.
I used to love church till I got to Lee. The moment someone forced me to go, I snapped. When I looked around at all the religious people, I snapped. I wasn’t like them. I didn’t want to talk about my feelings. I didn’t want to have emotional reactions all the time. They would stay in church for hours and cry and cry and have these scary experiences with God. I thought man, if that’s meeting God, I’m out. Pentecostal churches are scary things for people who don’t get down with pentecostal experiences. You will question your sanity and say, “What’s wrong with me?” What I’ve realized is that for me, I can’t handle religious people. If you only have one topic of conversation, then I can maybe eek out about 2 minutes of talking with you. If every word out of your mouth is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, then I’m on to the next.
People don’t have to have the same experiences as me. What I’m looking for is honesty and accountability. I used to think, “Well I don’t need church. I got enough of it when I was young. I know the Bible pretty well.” I wouldn’t say I saw church as an evil place, but I saw it as unnecessary. I could experience God on my own. I could search for Jesus on my own. People at church were just going to hurt me. They’ll gossip. They’ll condemn. They’ll make me feel uncomfortable. They’ll expect too much from me. There will be cliques. All true. But guess what else I found. Find any group of people where this doesn’t happen. It wasn’t church, it was my expectation of church. A church was supposed to meet all my needs. That’s why we build big churches. That’s why we try to make everything look nice. That’s why churches strive to have the best programs. Church services us. At the end though, maybe I should be going to church to meet a greater need, something other than myself. The greatest lesson I learned from church was I had an opportunity to serve others instead of being selfish.