In the very wee days of my blogging, I wrote a post regarding my personal testimony and decision to remove myself from the vast arena of church selections we have at our own choosing. Purposefully Unchurched I've decided to expound on what I wrote in that post and delve into further details as to why I've decided to remove myself from the churching frenzy.
My decision was a personal one. A decision that was led of the Spirit, for my own edification and not necessarily anyone else's. I do not promote "church leaving" as some new found doctrine for righteousness or faith. I am not a "religious fanatic". As a matter of fact, I abhor the term "religious", and the connotation that comes with it. I'm not trying to convey my own righteousness, or prove myself "better than" by withdrawing in this fashion. Quite simply, I am a nonconformist as the Spirit of the Lord calls me to be one.
Designated for nonconformity
As you might imagine, many Christians are simply offended my decision. They insist that I need church...the "right" church. I simply should not give up on finding a good bible based church. I've been quoted Hebrews 10:25 as a reason for church attendance, more times than I can remember. Does this mean I pick over scripture at my leisure? I pray to the Lord that my human nature, pride and vanity, would never succeed in this fashion. What is continually ignored, the very basis of my decision is that church at the beginning (Paul's time) and now are vastly different, to the point where "the now" no longer resembles "the first". Maybe, you will continue to insist that there are a few good churches out there, and I will not be so ignorant as to say that they don't exist. For the Lord that I worship and follow is a LORD that cannot be confined to human wisdom and reasoning, and He has "laborers" in the field.
What is clear to me, the foundation that establishes THE Church, which is the Holy Spirit that was promised by Christ before his ascension (John 16:7-16; Acts 1:4-8,) is not the foundation where many churches today are laid. Never mind that churches are more likely to be dictated by church "policies" and church "politics", but what I find in comparison to the Word and my first-hand experiences, is that Christianity has evolved from a Faith to a culture. It has become a culture of traditions that I am hard-pressed to find scripture. And it is from this mind-set, I am designated to nonconformity.
the assembling of ourselves together
Generally, the culture of Christianity today, involves consistent Sunday services attendance where one brings their Bible, to sit and intently listen to a pastor/preacher teach about the Word of God. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that scenario, but the problem lies, not in the "intent" for support of one another, but in the mind-set that has evolved from such intents, and the consequences we suffer as a whole because of it.
The Word is clear on two things:
- The sacrifice of His life was so that all can have equal access to God by Faith in Christ Jesus. "Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord, Jesus Christ: By whom we also have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God" - Romans 5:1-2
- The Spirit of the Lord, Holy Spirit, is our only teacher. "But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him" -- 1 John 2:27
We currently live in a culture, where each church has a "pastor" or a leader by some sort of title. This leader is responsible for teaching scripture, as well as personal, individual, counseling. Generally, this leader will have been certified in some capacity by a course(s) of learning and deemed qualified to pastor by that capacity. This leader is typically labeled a "Man/Woman of God" by their congregation as a whole and is typically viewed/honored as persons with vast spiritual knowledge above and beyond those congregants. These leaders will typically teach from a bible translation of their choice in subjects.
The problems I have with this scene is the mind-set behind it:
- Leaders are generally hailed above and beyond what scripture calls for.
- Leaders are generally deemed "qualified" by the wisdom of man and not by the power of the Spirit.
- Leaders are generally seen as the only "teacher" of the Word.
- Leaders are generally seen as the only "go to" representative of God.
- Leaders generally teach in "subjects" that can/is influenced by personal conceptions. Most likely taking scripture out of context of its original content.
The consequences I've seen with this mind-set is:
- Congregants are more likely to defend their pastor/church, than they are to defend the gospel/Christ.
- Courses/curriculum deemed acceptable by man, i.e. religious/theological educational institutions, are prone to flawed/unsound doctrine teaching.
- Congregants are prone to live vicariously through their leader for a personal relationship with God, as congregants feel "unqualified" to "learn" of God and His Son by the Holy Spirit.
- Congregants generally do not learn principles of the gospel in whole, as intended by scripture.
- As a whole, congregants replace a personal relationship with God with church attendance. Making it mandatory for righteousness or righteous living or in some cases (as I've been told) the only means of salvation.
What is obvious to me is the attitudes or should I say character of so many leaders that are hailed as men/women of God, pales in comparison to the example we have in Saint Paul.
"And I, brethren, when I came to you, came not with excellency of speech or of wisdom, declaring unto you the testimony of God.
For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.
And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.
And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power:
That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. " -- 1 Corinthians 2:1-5
Quite honestly, there are times when I cannot differentiate between a nonbeliever, and one that calls themselves Christian, for they can speak and behave the same way. Don't think that my focus on this pervasive mind-set is completely on "leaders" of churches. There cannot be a "supply" if there is not first a "demand".
"I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;
Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.
But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry." -- 2 Timothy 4:1-5
Can anyone stand in the midst of a buffet of churches, of varying flavors and tell me, this time, that Paul refers to is not now?? It is from this atmosphere I am not conformed.
every word of god
What does this mean for you? I cannot tell you, as everyone is accountable to the Lord for their Faith in Him. So how DO I live? Freely, peacefully and joyfully.
"But their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ.
"But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart.
Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.
Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. "-- 2 Corinthians 3:13-17
"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." -- John 14:27
In joy (not happiness which is dependent upon circumstances):
"If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full." John 15:10-11
The Church I belong to is not a physical one, but a spiritual one, for I AM part of the body of Christ. I AM a temple in which He resides. Today's society of churches cannot offer me anything more than what I already have. I am dedicated, not to live on bread alone, but by every word of God.
"But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God. "-- Matthew 4:4
laborer for Christ
I am a laborer for Christ, called to labor for the gospel, in ministry of my family, in edification of fellow laborers. This I do freely, unhindered from the "commandments of men". If I am led to minister in a physical church, this I will also do. As of today, I am not compelled in such a fashion, nor am I compelled to search for a church for my own personal attendance, for my need and desire for fellowship, accountability and growth rests solely on my Savior and King, and He has richly blessed me in His provision.
"Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ"