Religion - are we barking up the wrong tree?

I'd like to take a stab at writing on something I've been thinking about lately.

A lot of time is spent in email - and in our lives in general - talking about religion.  Which religion best points us to God? Whose religion is the original? Which one is the most 'bible-based?'

First of all - I don't believe God's plan was for Christianity to be a religion - its coming actually announced the end of all religion. That was symbolized for us so perfectly when the temple in Jerusalem came crashing down - ending all records of the most precious Jewish history. Yet, temple/buildings still exist, similar or even more stringent rules and special religious activities are still expect.  What we see around us, that which we proudly call religion, is a human answer to what we have chosen to do for God.  It's a contract deal we've made.  We perform in various ways and then look to him for a return on that investment in the "sweet by and by."  Problem is - not a hint of that exists in God's word nor in the life of Jesus that was provided for us to emulate.

I can't imagine that the earliest Christians would have had a clue when asked "What is your religion?" or "What religion are you?"  It was men later, who took that amazed and liberated community of believers and turned them into all these competing institutions in the world today. That competition is so deadly and has such a pull on us that the lines that first began dividing people into groups are now even running within the denominations and fracturing saints further.  We may not understand grace, or comprehend the meanings of our lives - but we have dividing down to an art!

One of the most obvious aspects of the early life of the believers, was that the community included ALL believers - where their unity was based solely on their faith. <the true meaning of the term catholic, if you will :) >  However, religion can't do that - it must fellowship only a certain type of people who do a certain type of works.

Religion has spent thousands of years trying to 'get it right.'  It has taken the old wine skins of human understanding and tried to fill it with Jesus' new wine - but that can't ever succeed.  We've tried to emulate the world around us in our religion by copying the king-subject model and elevating men to unbelievable power and importance.  We've looked at the corporate world around us and made our  religion into corporations which now have denigrated even further into business corporations - really just a great big Walmart - with something there for everyone - just as long as it's a best seller and pleasing to the shoppers.  We are so entrenched in the religion-selling business, but now instead of "selling salvation" to the unbelievers, we are selling to our own clientele.

Anyway, I think we oughta run, not walk, as far away from anything that looks or smells like religion.  It has never worked - and can't ever work because it is not from God.  Religion has its eyes on the world around it and its finger on the pulse of the people - rather than its spirit connected to God.

I think we need to lay down the bulk of our religious discussions <not all - because they are fun now and then> and talk about GOD. All the emphasis we put on comparative religions is selfish talk about *us* - it's all about what men think.  God just isn't there.  He is not to be found in what we think about Him or rules we make in how/when to approach Him.

All believers from all time are all God's children.  We have always tried to learn more about Him and our natural desire is to 'help' others around us with the great things we've found.  That help tho, is exactly what has fueled all the divisions in the body that started from Day One. People have tried to package their relationship and understandings and fix the poor souls around them by molding them to match.

How can we strip away the religious garbage that's controlling our lives and simply share GOD?