I’ve read many articles about church abuse. Seems many Christians have been through bad times in the organized church and they have become angry and frustrated with the system. Certainly understandable.
For me, I can’t say I went through anything I would call abuse in the system. I grew up in church and was very active over the years. I truly felt I was doing what was pleasing to God and I earnestly was trying to learn and do what He would want me to do.
So when I hear all the abuse stories and all the troubling times in organized religion, I don’t always understand. I know there are many people in the modern, organized church that truly love God and are trying to please him. I also realize there are many people who were unduly abused in various ways during their church life, and that is very sad.
For me, after several years of being unsatisfied with the system and feeling there certainly had to be more to it than what I had been part of, I dropped out of traditional church. Obviously this has to be something you feel is right for you, and I don’t think it is a good thing to tell people they should do the same. This is a choice that each believer has to make for themselves. I came to this conclusion after many years of seeing things, questioning things, reading things and just being completely frustrated with the system of organized religion.
I have no regrets in leaving, although I have no regrets for being a part of it for so many years either. I did learn a lot and made a lot of good friends. Of course because of the years involved, there are many beliefs and ideas I need to detox from now.
For now, feeling the system is wrong, I have decided to walk with God outside the walls of the organized church. Not that anyone is intentionally trying to do what is wrong but the whole modern-day organized church is off base. Granted, the system is the only thing we know. It’s been this way for years and we grew up with it and thought it was the way it should be.
We have it engrained in us that to assemble ourselves together is to go to church on Sunday morning and sit through a scheduled program. No where does scripture tell us that assembling together has to be done in a particular way, at a special time or in a set place.
We are told that the pastor is the spiritual head and he is who we learn from and come under authority and guidance. Of course God tells us that Jesus is the head of the church, which is his body, and the Holy Spirit is our teacher and we need no one to teach us other than him.
We are taught that we are saved by grace, but we need to live by the law to be pleasing to God. Reading through Paul’s teachings, it is easy to see that we live by grace, and trying to live under law is a curse (Galatians 3:10-13). Jesus fulfilled the Old Covenant and the Law for us because we couldn’t. Jesus did the work, Jesus died and ended the Old Covenant. Upon his resurrection, the New Covenant began and we now live by grace. The New Covenant commands are to love God with all our heart and love others.
The Law was a tutor to show us that we were completely incapable of keeping the law and living a perfect life. Only Jesus was able to live a perfect life. For us Christians, a tutor is no longer needed because we have come to Christ and depend on his work and grace.
We are taught that the Bible is the true, living, inerrant word of God. John 1:1 tells us that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. To me that says that Jesus is the living Word. The Bible is the inspired words of God, but we are not to look to the Bible as the all-powerful, inerrant source of what God has to say. We should look to Jesus who is our all in all, our very life.
We are taught to tithe, although that is not taught under the New Covenant. Giving as we see a need and as we feel lead is now done out of love, not tithing to the church as a requirement. I personally feel the church today is more of a big business than it is a religious organization. Tithing is pushed because the organization needs to have the bills and the salaries paid.
We are told we are poor sinners saved by grace and that we are weak, unrighteous worms who are unworthy of God’s love. Now apart from God, we are nothing. We can’t live a perfect life and we were not worthy to be in God’s presence. BUT, because of Christ and the work he has done, we were given the gift of righteousness. Apart from Christ, yes, we were poor sinners, but through Christ the sin nature was crucified and we were raised up with him as new creatures. We are now the house of God, and we are holy and righteous in his sight because of Christ.
People want to put themselves under the authority of a pastor or the elders of the church, but God says we are all kings and priests and Jesus is the head. We all have something to say when we come together to build one another up. There are no levels of authority among believers. We are all equal parts of his body and have equal parts to play in encouraging and building one another up.
I think an important fact for us to remember today is that no matter if you are ‘in church’ or outside the walls, we should be looking to each other in love and not fight and argue amongst ourselves. Whether you are going to church, you are going for the Lord, or if you don’t go to church, you are doing so for the Lord. Accept each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, pray for one another, encourage one another, and stop looking down on people who see things differently than you.
Even those outside of Christianity need our love, not our condemnation. Jesus loved those who the ‘religious leaders’ of his day didn’t want to have association. We want our Christian church, Christian schools, Christian dating sites, Christian this, Christian that, whatever we can do to be separate and apart from the non-Christians, yet we were told to go into all the world. That certainly doesn’t mean we are to act like the world, but we do need to love all those that are around us.
I truly feel that being a person in Christ is a daily lifestyle. Being the church is a 24/7 way of life, not a Sunday only thing. God said that He is building His church and that He no longer lives in buildings made with hands. We are the church, we are God’s house. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are the body of Christ. We function together as equal parts of the body under the headship of Jesus. We may be the only Jesus a lot of people will ever know.
We need to adjust our way of thinking and realize that church and Christianity are not a religion. It is a lifestyle we live day by day. Jesus is our life, it should be no longer us trying and doing, but resting in what Christ has done for us. We are in Christ and it is him living in us day by day that makes the difference.