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Several of my past articles have mentioned modern day church and how it is off base from what it was intended. I want to make clear that I am not against church, but I also want to make clear what I mean when I say church.

Normally when the word church is mentioned, we think of a building we go to on a certain day to learn about and worship God. We also think in terms of how much we go to church as being a guide to how spiritual we are, or how close we are to God. We think of the doctrines, rules and regulations placed on us by the church as ways to make us better Christians.

Church

I think we need to reset our thinking. The Church is not a building. The Church is the bride of Christ, all of us who are saved by grace. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. The building is just a place where we can meet and conduct spiritual meetings. It is another place to enjoy christian fellowship. Rather than see church as a place we go, we are to be the Church daily living under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and showing the love of God to all people.

Another area where we confuse the meaning of words is in regard to the word of God. When we talk about the word of God we usually think of the Bible. The Bible is inspired by God, but the true living Word of God is Jesus. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. Jesus is the Word of God.

WordofGod1

Far to often we christians put to much emphasis on the Bible, sometimes even thinking of it as part of the trinity. Remember it is not Father, Son and Holy Bible. Again, the Bible is written by men but is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. It is certainly profitable to read the Bible under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, but we need to focus on the fact that the Word of God is alive and living within each of us as followers of Christ.

Although it may seem unimportant on how we think of church or the Bible, I think it is very important that we understand what is really meant. The old mindset of a building and a book need to be replaced with the fact that the Church are those of us who are redeemed through the blood of Christ and the Word of God is Christ Himself, alive and living within us.

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Here we are into a new year already. This is the time many of us have a sense of excitement for new beginnings. We make resolutions to do better at various things in life, whether it is exercise, our spiritual life, eating or treating people better.

Resolutions

My wife and I have stopped making resolutions since we usually, like many, forget about them within the month.

On the other hand, we would like to continue on our walk outside the walls of religion and the many religious rules it puts upon us.

We are going to continue making new friends and get to know people who we were told to stay away from when we were in the organization. We were supposed to associate with people who believed in God and people who mostly believed like the denomination we were part of at the time.

We feel that Jesus came to show us that God loves people. Jesus associated with all kinds of people from all walks of life. They were not all godly people or people the religious leaders of the day would even dream of being seen spending time.

What we have found over the last few years is that people are basically the same. We all have our own beliefs, interests and ways of life. Yet behind the labels that are placed on us we are all human beings in need of love, acceptance, fellowship with others and a fulfilled life.

We all go about finding those things in different ways. Just because we see things differently is no reason to separate ourselves from one another. There is no reason we cannot respect one another, accept one another and treat each other as equals.

Many christian people think this view is very wrong and we should only associate with other believers. They feel christians should judge and condemn those who do not believe as they do and stay away from them until they come to Christ. They seem to think that if we accept people as they are we are condoning what the other person is doing.

My wife and I just do not see things that way. Obviously none of us are going to agree or condone everything other people do, yet we can accept others as human beings, treat them with respect and enjoy time talking and learning about their views. We believe we are all loved by God just as we are, and we believe we are to show that same love to others.

BeKindtoOneAnother

Many times we read in the bible how God treats the righteous and unrighteous equally. We read how God loves all people whether they love him or hate him. We are told to love our enemies and do good to those who treat us bad.

In the New Testament we are told to love God and love our neighbor. Of course our neighbor is not just the person who lives next door but any and all that we come in contact with during the day.

So, we are anxious each day to meet another one of God’s creation. Maybe it will be someone that believes like us, maybe it will be someone who is completely opposite from our views. We just pray that no matter who we meet or what they believe, we will be guided by the Holy Spirit to show love and acceptance, and to enjoy our time together.

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Have you noticed that no matter what your opinion or what you believe, just post that thought online and see how many people you get stirred up because they disagree. So many people are ready to argue and try to prove their way is right.

Do you ever get fed up with all the bickering, arguing and disagreements we have over spiritual matters? I sure do.

MyOpinion

We all have opinions, interpretations, beliefs and our way of seeing things. Naturally we are not going to agree with everyone, yet I do not see the purpose of going into long back-and-forth debates trying to prove each other wrong.

Some people love to debate. We all have things we enjoy and like to do and for some getting into long, drawn out debates is a joy.

Others, like me would rather have a short and friendly time of commenting and let it go. I see no reason to debate and try to get others to change their views and see things my way.

In the bible is says ‘if it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone’. To me that is saying do not worry about the differences we have or the various ways of thinking. Let each person have their own views and accept that others will see things differently.

Each of us should be able to reason, learn and decide for ourselves what we feel is right. Not only in Christianity but in life itself. It seems many of us want to control others and tell them how to live or point out what we think are their sins and mistakes. In regard to the lives of believers the bible states, ‘who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand’. As followers of Jesus he is our master. Each of us are serving him and are responsible to him, not other people.

HolySpiritOurGuide

I know we can all learn from one another, yet our main source of learning is hearing from the Father through the Holy Spirit who lives within us. We can be guided by the Spirit through the bible and many times through other people, but our allegiance is not to men, governments, pastors or anyone else. We are to follow after our perfect example who is Jesus.

I have decided that for me it is best to be open to hear from others, listen to what they say, seek the guidance of the Spirit as to what I have heard and then move on. If God has something for me to learn from what others say that is great. If what someone says does not resonate with me through the Spirit I move on and let that person have their own view and stick with what makes sense to me.

If we could all follow this way of thinking I think we would get along without all the bickering, arguing and back-biting I see in our world today. Accept one another, respect one another and love one another in the power of the Spirit. Realize it is not wrong to have varying ways of thought. Remember we are called to love God, love our neighbor and look out for the good of others.

For those outside the life of faith we are to treat them the same way. Again, that does not mean we agree or even condone what others do, but we are still to love them with the love of Christ and treat them as our neighbor. The Spirit will convict people of things that need to be changed, it is not our job to judge, convict and condemn people. We are called to love them with a godly love that can only come through the power of the Spirit that is within us.

So, have your opinion, share your opinion in love and be ready to hear and accept the opinions of others even when they disagree.

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Christianity can mean a couple different things and it depends on what meaning we are using as to how I feel about it.

If, when talking about being a Christian, we mean we are following Christ, acting like Christ and living like Christ, I am all for being called a Christian.

Religions

Usually these days the word Christian means more about the religion of Christianity. Just like Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Baha’i, Shinto, Taoism and a host of others, Christianity is a religion controlled by men. It is divided up into many various denominations, doctrines and biblical interpretations. Contrary to popular belief Jesus did not start the Christian religion.

Here in the United States we are so proud to say that America is a Christian nation. Unfortunately, I have to disagree with that idea. America is a country made up of many religions and beliefs. The good thing in this country is that we are not forced to be a part of any religion or belief. We have many freedoms that are not found in other places and I am thankful for that fact. We are free to choose what we want to believe, who we want to follow and we have the right to express that without fear of punishment.

Following Christ is not about a religion. I actually think it is better sometimes not to use the word Christian because of all the religious thoughts and ideas it brings up. Religion is a man-made, organized system that divides more than anything. We separate into groups that meet in buildings on set days and at set times saying we welcome anyone, yet only want those who feel the same way we do.

It bothers me to see so many who profess to be Christians, those who believe in God and Jesus and spreading His love to others, who argue and fight with those who think differently. We are supposed to be known for our love for others and love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Still, it seems a lot of Christians are more interested in defending their personal views and thoughts, getting mad and arguing amongst themselves while those outside the faith are looking at them and wondering why they need to have Christ in their lives.

Now, talking about Christianity in the sense that we are following Christ, living like Him and treating others like Jesus treated people, this is an entirely different thing. As mentioned in Acts 11:26, the disciples were first called Christians by the people of Antioch because they saw the disciples acting so much like Christ. To me, this is the true meaning of a Christian.

BeLikeJesus

True Christianity is a community of people who act like Christ and let him love through them. It is a daily life and is not separated into normal living and religious living. It is not specifically following set doctrines or following rules of do’s and don’ts. It is not meeting in a building once a week listening to one person talk, singing a few songs, shaking hands and going home. It is not a system of leaders who are on a higher level than others. Those who have gifts of leadership lead by example, lead as equals, and lead by a servant spirit to encourage and build up their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. They are not to lead by power or a position of authority.

True Christianity is a daily life following the leading of the Spirit. It is meeting with those we come in contact with along our daily routine and showing the love of Christ. It is eating together, laughing and crying together, accepting one another, talking and discussing our thoughts and views.

As followers of Christ, we are to love others, accept others, and treat others with compassion, respect and love. We do not have to agree with everyone, just accept them. We can agree to disagree and love people just as they are. Everyone does not have to be just like us and they do not have to believe like us. They should be able to be themselves and we as Christ followers should be OK with it.

It is time to stop being a Christian in the sense of religion and focus on Jesus and let Him live through us. After all, we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, we have the mind of Christ, God lives within us. There is no reason why we cannot love and accept others just like Christ loves and accepts everyone.

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After many years of growing up in the traditional institutional church many things have changed over the past few years.

Of course, while in the religious system I was ‘set apart’ from the supposedly wrong kind of people. We had our friends within our particular brand of religion and tried to stay away from people who saw things differently.

We were told it was best to associate with like-minded people and fellow believers who agreed with our doctrines and interpretations, but beware of people who have different beliefs or who came from difference faiths or, worse yet, no faith at all.

After over fifty years in organized religion my wife and I came to a point where we felt it best to leave the system and follow a life with God outside of organized religion.

I would not tell anyone to do this or try to draw anyone out of church if that is where they are happy and satisfied. I personally believe the system is flawed and for those who choose to do so, it is better outside the walls than in. But that is a decision I would leave to each person to make under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

I can say for us, after leaving we have been happy with the life we have found. We have freedom to follow the Spirit as he guides us. We rely on him rather than putting our faith and trust in a pastor or some spiritual leader. We have found more meaningful fellowship as God brings people into our lives to actually talk rather than sitting quietly in a service looking at the back of the head of the person in front of us.

After going through the process of leaving and starting to write on Done with Religion, I have had the opportunity to meet many new people from various walks of life, various faiths and religious beliefs. I have met many nice people that are LGBT and atheists as well and I am so glad to have done so.

Equals2

It seems to me being open to being friends with all people is so much better and interesting than feeling we are some kind of holy people who should stay away from others. It does not take long to realize that the labels that are placed on others do not completely described the person behind it.

Obviously, we are not going to agree on many subjects yet we can look past those differences and find many things we do share in common. We all want to have a meaningful, purposeful life. We all want love and friendship. We all want to get our bills paid, enjoy life and be happy. We all have causes and interests we want to promote and be successful at doing.

So rather than thinking you have to stand your ground on certain topics and separate yourself from others, look past those things and see the fellow human being in each person you meet. It seems much better to enjoy the friendships of all kinds of people in this life rather than let the differences separate us.

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As someone who has grown up in organized religion, I can honestly say that the institutional church has fallen way off course. What we call church today many times seems more like a large corporation run by a CEO and executive board.

We seem to be more focused on our programs, building bigger buildings, having a bigger and better worship band, getting on radio or TV and being a step ahead of the church down the street.

Variousbeliefs

Our churches today are so divided by denominations, doctrines and biblical interpretations that it seems we fight among ourselves more than anything. Many places there is literally a church building every mile or two from each other yet we cannot come together and our world continues to get worse and worse.

It amazes me how upset and defensive people can get when you mention that going to church is not a requirement. They seem to forget that the church is not a building and is not a place we go to, but the Church is the body of believers. Usually the first verse that is quoted when we talk about not going to church is Hebrews 10:25 – not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Nowhere does this verse say that we have to assemble in a building on a certain day at a certain time. Nowhere does it say we have to have a pastor to teach us, or a worship band to lead us in praise and worship.

I feel that sometimes we Christians want to be entertained and told what to believe, then go home feeling satisfied that we have fulfilled our duty until next Sunday. We have become lazy and do not want to spend the time with God, reading His words and letting the Holy Spirit teach us. As 1 John 2:23 states – as for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you (the Holy Spirit), and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.

Jesus said where two or three are gathered together in my name, there I am in the midst of them. That can be in a restaurant, in a home, in a park or any place believers join together. Many people put more emphasis on where we meet and not enough emphasis on spending time with the one we love. Why is it we feel the need to go to a building anyway, God said we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. God told us that He is always with us so why is it people say they are going to the house of God to meet with Him. We are the house of God and He is always with us.

Going to an organized religious building is not wrong, but we should call it what it is. The church building that people go to once a week is a place where the members of the Church get together. The Church are those of us who are saved through faith in Christ.

TheLoveofGod

So often we Christians can get more involved with the things about Christ, the services, the meetings, the up-keep of a building and the money to keep the bills paid that we lose sight of our first love. Jesus is the head, He is to have the preeminence. We should be putting our focus on Christ, loving Him with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and loving others with the love of God.

Stop the arguing over different interpretations and denominational doctrines and start loving others no matter what. It is then that the world will know we are His disciples and see a difference in the way we live as Christians.

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For those of us who have left the traditional church system, there can be times of discouragement, questioning and just plain not knowing what to do. Do not feel guilty for having such feelings.

I know that my wife and myself became fed up with the religious church system after spending over fifty years in it. Week after week we went to a pre-planned service, sat and watched only a few select people participate and listened to one person talk and tell us about God.

If was obvious there was a divide, a group of people who participated and a group of people who sat and listened. I remember thinking how spiritual the leaders of the church must be and how knowledgeable they were to hold positions in the church. I always thought I had nothing to say that would be important or helpful and I was so thankful for the pastor and the elders who seemed to have it all together.

As time went on I began wondering about certain verses in the bible that talked about each person having a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.

Or what about verses talking about us as living stones being built up into a spiritual house, a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. To me this says that all Christians are a holy priesthood and can offer spiritual sacrifices to God. All have the right to go directly to God through Jesus Christ our High Priest.

We are told that we are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people that we may proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.

All these verses and many others sure sounded to me that we were all capable, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, to be equals with all others who followed Christ. All can serve and fulfill a purpose in the Kingdom of God.

My wife and I came to believe that the divide we see in the Christian church was really very unbiblical. There are no first and second-class citizens of the Kingdom. There should not be a clergy-laity divide within the true Church that God is building through Christ.

church-people-or-building

We were always taught that the church, the brick and mortar building people attend once a week, was the house of God. Yet the bible says that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and the Kingdom of God is within us.

Finally making the choice to leave the church system, we decided to walk with God outside the walls of religion. This of course is a very unpopular decision in the Christian world. People have lost friends and fellowship with other believers because of this choice because those who are in the system feel leaving it is wrong.

I have heard of many people after leaving became known as back-sliders, people fallen from their faith and who have lost their relationship with God. When people find out we no longer attend a church they do their best to reason with us and try to get us back in line and back in the church system.

After three years being out of the institutional church, neither of us want to go back. We have found a freedom to live with God apart from the denominational requirements, various doctrines, the many man-made ways of following God and the thousands of interpretations of the bible that differ from church to church.

Over time God has brought people into our lives in ways we never expected. We are finding many new relationships online with people who have also left the church system. Fellowship is needed among us followers of Christ but that does not have to be done in a building on a set day and being face to face. In fact, we have had more meaningful relationships being outside of church then we did in it including online and face-to-face fellowship.

MindofChrist

If we believe the Holy Spirit lives within us, that we have the mind of Christ, and that the kingdom of God is within us then we need no man to teach us. The Spirit will guide each of us in the way he has for us to go. We are not going to all agree and walk in perfect agreement, but God leads each of us on separate paths yet leads us all into a close fellowship with Him.

For those with young kids it can be even more troubling because you are not sure what to do with the kids. Yet I believe that God will guide you and bring ways of showing the love of God to your kids whether it be in a group or in your family at home. I do not want to give out ideas for you to try because I believe the Spirit of God will guide and direct you in the way you are to go in teaching your children.

I do believe that God is big enough and personal enough to guide us outside the traditional church and the clergy system we have all know all our lives. It is a difficult road to go but it certainly seems to me a much better way to follow God and live for Him.

What decision you make in regard to attending church or walking outside the walls, remember both groups are children of God and trying to follow Him the way they feel is best. In church or out of church we all make up The Church, each of us equally important and equally able to let God love through us.

Focus of following God in the way he leads you, love others equally, do not think more highly of yourself than of others. Be open to let God lead you on the path he has for you whether it is in traditional religious ways or the unpopular way of living outside the walls of church and religion. Love and accept others as they are and let the love of God touch everyone you meet along the way.

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