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by Jim Gordon

I have become more inclined to follow my feeling that the church of today is way off base from what God intended. The church being the building many go to on Saturday or Sunday, the man-made denominations, the organized religious services led by a pastor.

Why do we get so caught up on being in a building each week, sitting quietly listening to one man (or woman) telling us what God is saying or what the Bible says. God’s word says we have the Holy Spirit to teach us and no longer need a middle man. God says we are all kings and priests and able to have a psalm, a teaching, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.

churchisnotabuilding

Am I saying it is wrong to go to church? Of course not. I do believe the modern-day organized church is not in line with what God intended. I do believe we do not have to attend any organized church. Some will say the Bible says do not forsake the assembling of yourselves together. That is true, but it does not say you have to assemble together anywhere in particular or on a set day. We can meet up with other believers in a restaurant, a park or invite them to our home for a meal and time of fellowship. That is the Church I feel the Bible is talking about, the people not an organization.

In our day and age, it is time to get over man-made religion and the church building being the center of our Christian life and realize there is more. Most churches today are more of a social club or a big business than anything. We should focus on Jesus and build our relationship with him and realize that WE are the Church and the Holy Spirit lives within us making us the dwelling place of God. We are the temple of God.

We are to build our fellowship with God and with one another. This does not need to be done in a building during an organized service, but in spending time with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Living life daily under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, encouraging one another, showing love to all people, helping those who need a hand.

People should be able to know that we are Christians because of the love we have for God and for one another, not because of an organization we belong to or a denomination we follow.

Share your thoughts in the comments below

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by Jim Gordon

So often when we talk about leaving church, people usually misunderstand why we made such a decision.

Many times, christian people who remain in the traditional church system automatically think we have left our faith, gave up on God or are in a backslidden spiritual condition. Rather than listen to our reasons and trying to understand, many are more interested in proving why our decision to leave was wrong. They try their best to encourage us to come back to God by going to church. Unfortunately, many just write us off as someone to avoid and forget.

If they would only watch and listen a while they would see that we have not left God. We have only left a system that we feel is flawed and not what God intended. We have left the man-made system to follow God in what we feel is a more natural way by putting our dependence on the guidance of the Spirit alone without the middle-man known as a pastor.

We feel we no longer get much out of the weekly organized service. We feel one person doing all the talking in a building where only a select few have anything to do with the pre-planned service is not what God had in mind. We feel that when we gather with others each of us should have a voice, some word of teaching or encouragement.

For those who are followers of Jesus, most of us grew up in the church system. That is all most of us have known. Yet it seems the Spirit is drawing many out of the system and into a more organic way of gathering. Church is no longer seen as a building or an organization based on traditions and doctrines of men.

churchnotabuilding

Church is community. It is people living daily under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the love of God. It is coming alongside other believers for fellowship, encouragement and building one another up in Christ. This can happen anywhere on any day in any place. We can come together with other believers in restaurants, parks, pubs or houses. Anywhere two or three gather in Christ is a place we can participate and be used by the Spirit to encourage others.

For those still in the traditional system, please do not worry about those of us who have left. We have not left God. There is no reason why we cannot all accept one another and the choices we make in regard to attending a religious organization or following Jesus outside the walls of religion and traditional ways of gathering. Whether in or out of the institutional church, each of us in our own way are trying to follow Jesus in the way we feel he is leading us. Our goal is to love God and love one another.

Share your thoughts in the comments below

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By Mike Edwards

The Synchroblog is where bloggers write on spiritual topics – often different perspectives. This month we were challenged to write on How Churches Can Work Toward Unity and Peace. Links to other articles will be put at end of this Post November 28

Our country is obviously divided but since when does love always require agreeing. Marriages couldn’t last if they had to always agree. Churches usually desire to lead by example in promoting peace but they must “walk the talk.” Helping the less fortunate can be accomplished by a gathering of people focused on loving others as themselves. Unity by all gatherings who believe in such love surely could accomplish even greater good.

Keep in mind Church in the Bible isn’t a building but individuals.

In the Bible “Church” was not a building or a place attended once a week. Jesus referred to His followers as being the Church and to encourage and care for one another.  The Bible doesn’t tell the Church to go to church.  Jesus said “Where two or more are gathered in His name” God would be present. Jesus did not specify where they must gather, what they must do or how they must do it. Simply find environments to encourage and be encouraged to radically love as Jesus did.

When are churches with the same message going to unite over the Bible?  

Churches will remain divided, despite a common message of love, when insisting on their version of “because the Bible says so.” Books, since literature, require interpretation. Even biblical scholars who respect Scriptures disagree what the Bible says about divorce, gender roles, homosexuality, hell, etc. Terrorists justify killing infidels because they worship a Book at the expense of common moral sense inborn in us.

Atrocities such as slavery, condemning gays, denying women equal roles as men, etc. have been justified because the Bible supposedly says so. Let’s listen and express ideas openly in love which may lead to new understandings. The overall message of the Bible seems clear – love others unselfishly. Churches can unite by not declaring the certainty or morality of their opinions according to the Bible. For elaboration see: http://what-god-may-really-be-like.com/rethinking-the-bible/

When are churches going to unite over titles?  

New Testament followers of Jesus did not refer to themselves as Baptists, Methodists, Protestants, Catholics, or even Christians. Paul warned of the harm of divisions among followers: “I follow Paul; another, I follow Apollos; another, I follow Cephas; still another I follow Christ” (I Cor. 1:12). If we got rid of titles people might seek more WHO we follow than what we believe in.

Less titles means more money to help the less fortunate. If anyone deserved to be paid in spreading Jesus’ message it was the Apostle Paul who wrote most of the NT. But, Paul was a tentmaker (Acts 18:3). How much more money could be used to feed the poor if salaries didn’t have to be paid and elaborate buildings didn’t have to be erected? 

When are churches going to unite by listening not preaching?

Going to church typically involves sitting and observing than participating. The implication is that some are more spiritual and smarter about God than others! God speaks to individuals not just preachers. When you don’t agree with those in authority, you are seen as divisive. This hardly inspires unity despite differences of opinions. Churches understand going to a church doesn’t inspires connection. That is why they organize community groups outside their buildings. AA seems closer to God’s wish for gatherings for encouragement (Heb. 10:24-25).

So, how can churches unite around the message they exist for?  

I have my doubts buildings called churches will change. They would have to change their view of the Bible. They would have to drop their non-unifying titles. Thus, there would be less of a need to spend on constructions to remain separate. Their teachings methods would have to demonstrate that God speaks to all and not a few. This would create genuine intimacy thus greater inspiration. All churches supposedly exist to encourage loving others like you want to be loved. When will they unite around such a message leading to greater peace?

Here is the list of other writers and authors who contributed to this month’s Synchroblog. Go read them all to see what others think about church unity.

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by Jim Gordon

Have you noticed how people like to look up toward the sky when they think of God? I recently watched several football players giving God praise by looking up and pointing toward the sky. Many of us who are Christians seem to think of God as being up in the sky somewhere looking down on us. We are taught in our churches that God is up there and someday we will go to meet him and be with him.

 

We tend to forget that the Kingdom of God is within us. We are told that we are the temple of the Holy Spirit and God makes his home within us. The fact is that we really do not act like we believe this truth.

 

If we could only get it in our head and down in our spirit that God is not somewhere up there, far away in heaven. He lives within us by his Spirit. We have the Spirit within us to teach and guide us. The bible says we have the mind of Christ. That is because his Spirit lives within us.

TempleofGodfor WordPress

 

We are living in the Kingdom right now. Yes, we are constrained by our human body but our spirit is one with his Spirit and we are spiritually living with him in his Kingdom.

 

It would be nice to begin hearing more about the presence of God within us right now rather than a God who is far away and who may show up from time to time to bless us in some special way if we attend the right meeting at the right place.

 

God is here now, living within us. He goes with us each and every day through whatever we go through in our daily life. He loves us and is concerned about us and is there for our good. It can be a hard thing to get the old teachings of the church out of our heads and accept the fact that God lives within us now. It reminds me of the old saying ‘you can take the boy out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the boy’. You can take the boy out of religion but you can’t take religion out of the boy, or it is really hard to do so.

 

Religion is man’s way of making his way to God. Yet we find out that man cannot come to God by his efforts and good works. Grace is the only way man comes to God, and it is all by the good works of the Father through Jesus.

 

Once Jesus left this earth he sent us a comforter, his Spirit who now dwells within his Church. His Church is not a religious organization and is not a building. It is his followers no matter what church they attend or if they do not attend a religious organization at all.

 

God lives within us. He makes his home within us and is with us spiritually just as much now as he will be when this earthly body passes away and we live in our glorified, spiritual bodies.

 

Start making the effort to see things as God says they are, not as we have been taught within religion. God is not up in the sky, he lives within us. We are his temple and each of us collectively form his kingdom body now.

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by Jim Gordon

We hear the word fundamentalism a lot in the christian world. I actually grew up as a fundamentalist but never realized that was what I was because I never put much thought into all the different terms and labels. I just loved God and went to church because that was the way I thought we lived the christian life.

When I looked up the word fundamentalism in the dictionary I found the following definitions: 1. a conservative movement in theology among nineteenth and twentieth-century Christians. Fundamentalists believe that the statements in the Bible are literally true. 2. in Christianity the belief that every word of the Bible is divinely inspired and therefore true. 3. a religious movement characterized by a strict belief in the literal interpretation of religious texts, especially within American Protestantism and Islam; the beliefs held by those in this movement; strict adherence to any set of basic ideas or principles.

Fundamentalism

Now that I know what fundamentalist means, I no longer believe I would be considered one. My views, beliefs and interpretations have changed so much over the years, especially since leaving the organized church. For some reason I never felt comfortable asking questions while in the organization. I just took what the pastor said as gospel truth and never questioned anything. Being outside the walls of religion I am letting all those questions come out and seeking truth from the Spirit of God rather than from a pastor.

I believe fundamentalism leads more to separation, condemnation and being judgmental. It seems to me being so set on specific doctrines, beliefs and interpretations can prevent us from asking questions, learning, accepting and loving others.

Are my thoughts a popular way of looking at the christian life? Of course not! I grew up in the organized church from a very young age and spent nearly sixty years in it. I also used to think everything depended on my works such as attending church, tithing, doing good works and reading the bible and believing it was perfect, completely literal and the only way God spoke to us today. There are many people still doing all this and they sincerely love God and think this is the way we are to serve God. Yet being outside of this setting, I have seen what is for me a better way. A way of depending on the Spirit within to teach and guide us. A way that loves and accepts others even when they do not see things the same.

Today the term fundamentalist christian seems to have more of a meaning of being hateful and not being accepting of others views. Completely different from what Jesus taught and what God is like.

Jesus was not a fundamentalist, he was not even a christian. Jesus was the personification of the Father who is a God of love. Even those writings from the old testament where men wrote from their beliefs, ideas, interpretations and what they thought about God were shown to be wrong when Jesus arrived. He showed us that God is not a god of vengeance, hatred and murder but a God who loves all of us.

We are to love God and love one another. Loving our neighbor does not mean just loving those who live next door, or loving those who believe like we believe. Our neighbor is everyone else in the world. Seems to me most fundamentalist reject those who see things differently and prefer to stay away from those who do not believe the same.

I would rather be known as a follower of Jesus rather than a fundamentalist christian. The way of the law and following rules and set doctrines of men have come to an end. The way of loving one another because of the grace of Christ is the new covenant way. I have actually become quite tired of using labels at all. We are all human beings who are loved by God. We should all be treated with love, respect, acceptance and have the same rights as everyone else. God did not create some people better than others, we are all created in His likeness and are loved by Him.

There are so many topics and beliefs I grew up learning in the fundamentalist church that I no longer accept. I certainly have not lost my belief in or love for God, yet the many interpretations that were taught by men and women in the institution I now find wrong and not like Christ.

Rather than adhere to a set of rules and institutional-taught beliefs we are to submit to the guidance of the Holy Spirit that lives within us. Learn to hear his voice and let your life be a daily communication of his love to others.

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by Jim Gordon

I have read many articles about church abuse. It 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 cannot 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.

When I hear all the abuse stories and all the troubling times in organized religion, I do not 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 stopped attending a traditional church. Obviously, this has to be something you feel is right for you. I do not 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, my wife and 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 has 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. Nowhere does scripture tell us that assembling together has to be done in a particular way, at a special time or in a set place.

churchnotabuilding

We are told that the pastor is the spiritual head and the one 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. Now trying to live under the law is a curse (Galatians 3:10-13). Jesus fulfilled the Old Covenant Law for us because we could not do it. 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 tells us 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. Yet the bible says we were originally created in the likeness of God. We cannot live a perfect life in our humanness but because of Christ and the work he has done, we have been restored to fellowship with our Father. 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 equally important functions to fulfill 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 do not 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 did not want to have any 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 and show the love of God to all those that are around us.

YouaretheChurch490

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 equally needed parts of the body under the headship of Jesus.

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. We may be the only Jesus a lot of people will ever know.

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by Jim Gordon

In a day when many feel it is the job of the Christian to point out the sins and mistakes of others, I personally do not see Jesus being that way.

Jesus associated with all kinds of people and he showed love toward them. He was genuinely interested in them and accepted them. That does not mean he always agreed with them, but he accepted them as they were. He treated them with love and respect.

Acceptance does not necessarily mean we agree or condone the actions of another, it means we are kind, respectful and show the love of God to them. We obviously are not all going to agree on things, yet we should be able to treat one another with kindness.

Many say we have to point out the sins of others and warn them of impending doom or we are not fulfilling our obligation as a Christian. Yet I feel that we are told the Spirit will convict people of changes that should be made. The Spirit will draw people to the Father. We are not called to do the work of the Spirit, we are called to show the love of the Father to all people.

AcceptOneAnother

My opinion is that showing love and acceptance to people is more in line with the way Jesus treated others. He did not condemn, he did not hate, he did not associate only for ulterior motives of getting people to join him. In fact, the only people Jesus seemed to have issues with were the religious leaders who thought they were so much holier than others. They were mad at Jesus for associating with people they determined were the sinners and lower class of the day.

For me, rather than point out sins, rather than show condemnation and many times down right hatred towards people, I would rather do what Jesus tells us to do. Love God will all your heart, soul, strength and mind and love your neighbor (all people) as yourself.

We love through the power of the Holy Spirit within us. Love and genuine friendship will draw people into conversations and respect for one another, thus providing an atmosphere where we can all learn from one another and respect one another.

Unfortunately, one of the major issues many christians seem to have is in regard to LGBTQ issues. I am not sure why, but people who consider this to be a sin jump on this issue more than anything.

To me, I like to follow this way of thinking. Whether you are LGBTQ affirming or not, there is no reason to treat people with hate and contempt. Whatever you think about LGBTQ, right or wrong, affirming or non-affirming, be respectful, kind and show the love of God to all people.

We are all made in the image of God. We all have our interpretations and opinions. We each have to follow what we feel is right for us, but we do not have to force our views on others. We all deserve respect and the same equal rights as anyone else.

Accept each other for who we are and follow your convictions for yourself. There is no reason to be hateful toward anyone. We are all loved by God just the way we are now. If there is anything that needs to be corrected or changed in us, the Spirit will gently persuade us in the way we should go. It is not up to people to do the work of the Spirit.

Love and accept others. This means LGBTQ, atheist, people from different religions, races and nationalities. We do not all have to agree. Show each other love. Love makes more of an impact on people than does hatred, condemnation and forcing personal views on them.

Remember we are not told to go force our views and beliefs on others. We are told to love God and love our neighbors as ourselves.

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