.The main book of Christianity, the Bible, requires a Christian to have a real relationship with God. I struggled with this idea incessantly in my youth like when I tried to climb the old, brown Cyprus tree in my grandparent’s front yard. The climb created difficulties at first, but as I matured it became easier and more comfortable.

One bright Sunday morning, I walked up to the old, brown-bricked Southern Baptist Church and reached up to open the door. The large wooden door creaked as it opened, and I turned left by habit into the Sunday School room. Every day I came in, my white topped teacher rooted religious rules deeper and deeper in me. These rules were rough, hard, steadfast laws straight from the second book of the Bible. We learned, memorized, and recited; although, we never learned how to live these laws in our actual lives. We grew our roots, but with no nutrients the roots rotted with an ugly discoloring and an unpleasant odor.

I walked into the old church’s auditorium, and the sound of Amazing Grace filled my ears. The walls were covered with oak panels, and a clashing green carpet blanketed the floor. An old paper smell from the hymnals made me wince even though I was familiar with the scent. We prayed, and I folded my hands, closed my eyes, and bowed my head, the way one is supposed to pray. We did not dare speak of the outside world in fear of “conforming” to it. In this ritual-based church, the holier one became, the higher from the world he grew. I was accustom to these rituals, but I did not understand why I performed some of them. Unfortunately, this very tall stick in the ground with rotten roots was a very difficult climb.

When I finally attempted the daunting climb, I realized that this would get me nowhere except closer to death. This tree of several rules and rituals only benefited me when the wood was refined and made into a cross. God made himself human through the virgin birth and died on that cross to be the propitiation. His actions redefined rules and rituals and transformed them into a personal relationship that produced obedience. I no longer had to climb that tree, but I have to, “deny [myself], and take up [my] cross daily and follow [Jesus Christ]” (Luke 9:23 NASB); therefore, my religion is no longer a one time climb to the top, but an every day relationship with God.