well, the topic of religion is something that i've avoided talking about for a very long time on these forums mostly because i hate debating people about whether or not God even exists and so on and so forth. however, i would like to just put in my two cents about all of this.
it all starts with the simple question: what is religion? i believe that religion is all about two things: power and purpose. one thing that every religion on this earth has in common is man's search for power over their everyday situations and a reason for existence. in that sense, every religion on this earth is the same, and they're all competing with each other. religion has been the source of countless deaths and wars over the years, and it all comes down to the fact that every religion promotes a very dogmatic stance on everything. in every sense, religion seems to accomplish the opposite of its intended function of power and purpose and more for division and destruction.
that said, i fully and completely believe that the Bible is not a religious document. throughout the scriptures, there are numerous references to the establishment and reigning of a kingdom, not a religion. if that is the case, then the Bible should instead be viewed as a political book about the establishment of a form of government in the earth.
it all starts in the very beginning. in Genesis 1:26, God created man to have dominion over the earth and everything within it. in other words, God's original intent was for man to automatically have both power and purpose from the very start over the Kingdom of the earth under his own authority. however, with the fall of man came a loss of both the power and purpose, and from that point until Jesus arrived on the earth, the Old Testament chronicles multiple attempts by God's people, the Hebrews, to re-establish a Kingdom of God on the earth.
When Jesus arrived, he was obsessed with teaching the fundamentals of a Kingdom. in the book of Matthew alone, the term "kingdom" is mentioned over 55 times. Jesus began his ministry saying "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17). just a few scriptures later, "And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people." (Matthew 4:23) and i could go on and on (i have plenty of references), but you get the idea: Jesus did not just come to the earth so that we could go to heaven when we die. Jesus came to re-establish the kingdom of heaven on the earth.
that said, i think that this whole preoccupation with religion vs relationship is preposterous. yes, God wants us to have a personal relationship with him, but he also wants the relationship to be more than just a means of guiding our lives. God's intent was for man to rule and reign in the earth. having a relationship with God is the way for us to know how we're supposed to accomplish his will in the earth, and his will is to establish a kingdom. most people just want to focus in on how much God loves us and how much he longs for us to know him, but they're omitting the fact that God wants us to know him for a reason beyond us going to heaven instead of hell.
all that said, (and i could say a whole lot more), i very much think that you're on the right track, Tysyacha. what you're going through is similar to what i've gone through in the past, and its never easy when so many around you (particularly loved ones) are content to just accept things at face value. discovering yourself and discovering the purpose that God has created for all of us is so much more important than anything else. you're on the right track by asking questions, and i encourage you to dig deeper.
if anything that i've said has made you curious, there are a number of books that i can recommend that can explain this whole kingdom concept in much further detail than this. i really hope that you find answers that make sense to you. i very honestly believe that there is nothing more important on the earth than understanding yourself and what you have found to be true. in that, we all find our identity and our true purpose.
take care, and God bless. ~stingerhs
See the struggle of the faithless lot as they negate their time
How low to sink to the depths of their frame of mind