One of the other HUGE things that has come to me, is the difference between believing in a doctrine, and following the path God has chosen for me.
First the realization of the deadness of doctrine. Doctrine, is a destination, not a journey. Doctrines are a clearly defined set of beliefs based upon specifically chosen scriptures from the bible. The only real thing that I have learned about doctrines and the bible, is that by carefully choosing the passages for proof, almost any position on faith can be proven through scripture when interpreted through a specific filter. Meaning, in essence, I can basically prove almost anything biblically. Once realizing this, it made doctrines of any kind highly suspect. Then upon more research of the ordained leaders of our churchs, came to find out that a great number of them, about 98%, don't regularly study the bible. WHAT? You say. Oh yes, in seminary, they are taught all about their doctrine, what verses support it. How to use those verses to alleviate the fears of any who come with questions about doctrinal beliefs. Being so well armed, is a great disadvantage to them. Great for institutionalized church, but really bad the for pastor, father, priest, etc.. Since they have all of the answers to their questions, why look into the scriptures anymore? Anytime they do read the scriptures, they look at it through their doctrine filtered eyes and see confirmation of what they believe every time they do. So what really is the use of study, when all has already been revealed. Plus, doctrines don't change. The strictures of the faith were laid down hundreds of years ago, they have not changed, nor will they change. I liken it to a tree. The only time a tree does not change of it's own will, is when it is dead. I like to compare any organization to trees. Because if they are not growing, they are dead and rotting. Just like a doctrine. Like the rings of the dead tree, the rules of the doctrine are clearly defined. To go outside of those rules, is not allowed. So you must stay in one place, confined, unable to grow, or to move along the path that is already, oh so narrow.
Unlike doctrine, the path is something that stretches on to our deaths. It is something that we travel at God's direction, not our own. There are no limits on God, so there are no limits on our path. God will not lead us astray, he will not lead us into something that would be unpleasing to him. He will lead us where he needs us to be. Just like he led Jesus. Jesus was always criticized for the friends that he had and hung out with. If I were in a doctrinal organization, my deep friendships with homosexuals, drug users, adulterers, and the likes, would earn me scorn as well. I count that as blessing. To be so compared to the Christ. But being outside of those chains of the doctrinal rules, with an infinite horizon, with only God as my leader, is so incredibly freeing, that it can not be described in words. Only someone released from slavery or prison can truly begin to comprehend the feeling. The path is far harder than the decision to be doctrinal. God will put you through trials at each step of the path, and will not let you move on until you learn the lesson that he has to teach. That sucks, but, it is infinitely better than the chains of the other.