God, religion and people
God created the world, put humanity on it, and started walking and talking with humans. Obviously, the language was different, and most of the rest is speculation - imagining how things might have been (especially if we'd been organising things). Some of this varied speculation probably provides brief glimpses of small aspects (CS Lewis sci-fi trilogy, the Shack, etc). However, the idea of spending time together as friends do is what God intended from before the start.
People weren't exactly thrilled with the arrangement and soon decided it would be simpler if God spoke to just one of them, who could then tell others what God said. God still said things to people, but few were expecting to hear - and even fewer were keen to do what He said. They later decided they wanted a king - just like all the other nations, but kings are just like us. Some walked with God - and some did not.
And that is where religion comes in - it wasn't part of God's perfect creation. Sadly people made a real mess of life without God, just as even when I think I'm making the best of things, I'm learning that tackling anything in my own wisdom is often less than brilliant. Eventually, He sent along His own Son to show us the way back to our Father. We might look on this as plan B - but God, being outside of this world He created (and therefore outside of time) knew it all along.
That's again a human way of thinking and shows how small our concept of God is. If He had come along and said "this is it - do it", we'd have had no choice - and therefore would have become less than human. Our ability to think creatively for ourselves is an essential part of our humanity - and it's what got us into trouble from the beginning when we ignore God's plans. Sadly our minds are one aspect of our amazing beings that people - especially Christians - place limits on.
After Jesus left the earth, his friends were so excited at their restored view of the world they turned the world upside down, despite fierce opposition (almost all died as a result, but none took the easy way out and recanted). Persecution even helped them spread the message. After about 300 years the enemy (God's not the only one we don't usually see) realised they weren't winning and took a different approach.
Today we often love religion (except for those who think of religion as being somehow God's fault) - something that we think of as God's idea, but which all too often is based on our own (or our enemies') ideas. I used to think that all religion is crazy. Then I became a follower of Jesus and thought all religions except Christianity were failed attempts to reach God. Today I've almost gone full circle. I say almost because now I understand a bit more how the enemy uses religion to distract from God.
I often wondered about branches of Christianity, but gave up on organised Christianity in the '90s. So much seemed so foreign to what Jesus would do. I read Pagan Christianity and other books which showed I wasn't alone in my thinking, but while parts of the world show more reality than our own culture, failed to see much progress.
Early in 2015, I returned to the start of this story - talking with God as with a friend. This back and forth conversation is so different from what I had been doing when praying - talking at God. That's not to say He did occasionally get through to me - such as selling my motorbike, or when my best friend got cancer. But this is different. He has even used my profession (accounting) to show me something more important than my job. Interestingly much of what we've talked about has been tying in things He'd been saying earlier. Old books, old events and so on - so much of the past has suddenly become integrated into who and why I am.
I'm loving this new life. It's the most amazing, liberating time. Health and money are not what I think they should be - but I now know my Creator as never before.
And for those who think I've gone off the deep end, I know there is a danger of "heresy". Great though this danger is, there is a greater danger: that of doing nothing new.