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Archive for the ‘Ekklesia’ Category

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 Jim Gordon

I recently listened to a YouTube video by Richard Jacobson and in it he mentioned veal crates. I had never heard of that before so I checked it out a little. It was interesting reading about veal crates and it got me to thinking about another type of box.

What I found was that veal crates are a close-confinement system of raising veal calves. Veal crates are designed to limit movement of the animal because meat turns redder and tougher if the animals are allowed to exercise. In some veal crate systems, the calves are kept in the dark without bedding and fed nothing but milk.

Veal crates seem to limit the calf from being able to move about and roam in much larger areas thus getting exercise which would cause the animal to strengthen. It also keeps them from contact with other calves and under the control of the person raising the calf.

VealCrate

Personally, this makes me think of the institutional church. Before we go any further, I want to point out that I am not an enemy of the church. I was part of the institution for over fifty years and very involved, so I can speak as an insider rather than someone who knows nothing of what I am saying. I do believe the institution confines us and limits the freedom God intended us to have.

I also realize that people cannot just up and leave because someone else says they should. It is a choice between the person and the Spirit. I believe there is specific timing as to when and if someone leaves the religious institution. I know for me it took fifteen years or so of being dissatisfied and thinking there had to be more. As Barbara Symons mentioned in her book ‘Escaping Christianity: Finding Christ’, “There is a need for all of us to experience restriction until Christ is formed within—like a pearl within an oyster, closed tightly until the time of harvesting. Before I understood this principle, I tried to convince others to leave the system as I did and in retrospect, it was before their time. I felt like a cage fighter; only my opponent was the cage itself. I was battered and beaten by trying to dismantle the religious system from the inside out as I tried to liberate those still within its grasp. I now understand that people will remain within restraint as long as they need to”.

People are brought into the box of religion and kept there to support and grow the institution. Once inside the box they are taught what that particular denomination believes or how that specific pastor thinks. Sometimes they are kept in the dark and only fed the milk of the word rather than the meat that gives them strength, knowledge and the ability to hear the Spirit for themselves.

Many times, people are restrained from being free to serve and use the gifts they have been given. Therefore, due to lack of exercise of using their talents they become weak and have no confidence to do anything other than what the institution says.

Most of the time they are only having fellowship with those within the box and usually encouraged to avoid fellowship with people who see things differently or do not go along with their way of thinking.

Outofthebox

Rather than enjoying the freedom God has provided outside the box and a life of accepting others and loving others, they are kept inside. By doing so they learn to exclude people, avoid certain people and are only fed the knowledge the institution and pastor wants them to know, all with the purpose to keep them from leaving.

It seems to me that breaking out of the box and being free to follow God without the rules, regulations and expectations of religion would be a much better way of showing the love of God to others. Being free to fellowship with all people, accept and love others with the love of God no matter who they are or what they believe.

We are not meant to be confined within the walls of institutional religion. God has set us free to follow Jesus wherever he leads. We are free from the rules that religion puts upon us for the purpose of making us better Christians. We are the Church that Jesus is building, a people who love and follow him not a building or organization.

Rather than live within the confines of the box religion puts us in, break free and live in the world God has created. Love people, accept others and show the unconditional love of God to everyone.

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By Jim Gordon

Those of us who are outside the walls of religion and institutional church have found a freedom we sometimes cannot explain. At least we cannot explain it in a way that people who still attend a church building will understand.

The problem is those who still attend the traditional church do not accept the fact that everyone is different and sees things in various ways. They usually want to stay away from us or talk about how we have backslidden and fallen away from God because we do not do what we have traditionally been taught was godly.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. We are worshipping and loving God just as much as before only in a different way. We have not left the Church (ekklesia) but we have left the building (church). Jesus is building His Church out of ‘living stones’ not brick and mortar.

My wife and I left the church because we felt the system was not the way God intended, yet we never left the true Church which is made up of all of those who are believers.

Each of us has an equally important part to play in the body yet no one is the head or over anyone else. Each of us are kings, priests and functioning parts of the body and we are all needed and important. Of course, only Jesus is the head of his Church not a pastor.

Those of us who have left the traditional church service are often told we need to attend because we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves together. Yet this verse does not mean we have to be in an organized, pre-planned service led by a pastor and a worship leader. It is saying we need our brothers and sisters in Christ. Whether we meet on a Monday at a café, Tuesday in a home, Thursday at a bar or Friday in a park makes no difference. Jesus said for where two or three gather together in my name there I am in their midst.

For us true and meaningful fellowship happens each and every day when God brings us together with a brother or sister, or when we meet up with another couple for dinner. It also may be a time of one-on-one fellowship online with a brother hundreds of miles away yet bonded closely through the Spirit.

Church1a

We are so conditioned to think of the church building and its events and happenings as the main way of fellowship and learning. Although we are told in the bible that when we come together each of us should have a word, or a song, or a praise. How often does that happen within the institutional church? Yet being outside the walls my wife and I have found this to be the norm. We all talk, we encourage one another, learn about each other, pray for one another and we support and care for each other. Fellowship is everyone having a part to play and everyone being open and talking about what God is to them. Sitting quietly in a church service does not fulfill what God intended fellowship to be among his children.

We should remember that rather than having a feeling of ‘us vs them’ mentality those of us who used to be part of the institutional church should also keep in mind that those who attend church are doing so because they love God and think they are doing the right thing. We are all children of God, whether we are in the institutional church or out of it. We are all parts of the Church that Jesus is building.

For those still attending, most do not think about how the system is wrong and is not what God intended for His people. After all, this is all we have known all our lives. We have been taught all along that this is God’s plan for us, to assemble together in a building, pay our tithes and look to the pastor as God’s spokesperson. I know I believed this for many years while within the system.

As people of God we are to love God and love others. We cannot do that in our own strength it is by the power of the Spirit within us. The sad thing is we should not have a problem loving our brothers and sisters in Christ. Yet sometimes it seems we have more trouble loving those who are part of a tradition that we no longer feel is right, but are still followers of the same God we love.

I pray that all of us can keep in mind that we are children of God, saved by grace and living in His kingdom now. Whether we are ‘in church’ or outside the walls, let us focus on our love of the Father and for one another. The world needs to see the love of God in action among His children. They do not need to see arguing, fighting and disrespect that is so familiar among Christians today.

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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

Many people seem to look toward those who take authority in the Christian world. So often we look up to those who are in leadership positions. We put our faith and trust in the pastor of our local church, or the evangelist who comes and speaks during revival services.

We tend to think that those who are in authority and leadership positions are more knowledgeable about spiritual matters, and able to lead others to God better than the normal average christian.

The truth is we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and we are all capable to be leaders in the sense we can encourage and help build up those with whom we have contact along the way. Each of us are kings and priests in God’s kingdom and no one is more important or on a higher plain than anyone else.

Christian leadership is no more than brothers and sisters in Christ who have lived and experienced more in spiritual matters lending a helping hand to those who are still maturing in their walk with God. There is no position of authority in this type of leadership. It is done out of love and compassion for one another and the desire to be used by God to encourage others in their walk with Him.

What I see so often in allowing people to take authority over one another is that it places an intermediary between God and man. Fortunately, not all people in leadership positions think this way and they are serving out of true love for God and for helping their fellow believer. Yet so often we hear of people in authority that demand our allegiance. They insist we listen to them and follow what they teach or else. This is a great misuse of authority in the christian world today.

ServantLeadership

I do not believe there are offices of authority and leadership in the sense we hear about it today. Those who have been given positions of leadership in the body of Christ are not in a higher standing than anyone else. They are to lead by example out of love for those who are still learning like everyone else. They are to be encouragers by example, helping build up their fellow believers into maturity.

Ephesians 4:11,12 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers to equip his people for works of service so that the body of Christ may be built up.

The true meaning of leadership by God’s standards is servanthood. Thinking more of others than you do yourself. So often it seems like just the opposite with men and women thinking they are the ones with authority and knowledge.

Matthew 20:25,26 but Jesus called them to Himself and said, you know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.

What I believe is the final authority among Christians is the Holy Spirit who lives within us. The bible can be used by the Spirit as a guide and help, but the bible is only a tool the Spirit uses. Apart from the Spirit there is no final authority in any person or book.

Although we can learn from the bible and we can learn from one another and their experiences, it is the Spirit of Jesus from within us who is the final authority and the head of the body known as the Church. The Church is not a building, not a denomination or an organization, it is each of us who are equally functioning and necessary parts of the body of Christ.

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This post is part of the June Synchroblog in which numerous bloggers around the world write about the same topic on the same day. Links to the other contributors are below. If you enjoyed this article, you will also enjoy reading what they have to say about the topic of Authority.

Authority for Believers – Soulcare Ministries

Who Gets To Say What Is Right Or Wrong? – What God May Really Be Like

A Surprising Source of Spiritual Authority – Glenn Hager

Is it the Bible or Jesus that is authoritative for Christians? ANSWER: Yes – Jeremy Myers

Surrendering Our Authority To Jesus – K. W. Lesley

Under Who’s Authority – Layman Seeker

authority? – Metler

The Age of the Spirit – Liz Dyer

 

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by Jim Gordon

Colossians 3:14 — And beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

With all the different thoughts, ideas, interpretations, denominations and versions of the Bible, how is it possible for us to get along and have unity among the brethren?

It is by love. To put on love is to put on God. God is love and love lives within us. Even in all the differences we can be united in the love of God. Our common focus is Jesus. We can be one in Christ and still have different views and opinions. Because of the love of Christ, we can respect one another’s views and opinions and accept them as brothers and sisters in Christ.

UnityinChrist

Love will bind us together and allow us to live in peace with one another. Many times, love is pushed out of the way for our own selfish desires. That is when disrespect, arguing, judging and condemning takes over, and it is not a pretty sight for those who profess to follow God, who is love.

Unity comes only in Christ. It is not through religion, doctrines, denominations or bible versions but through Christ alone. Unity through Christ looks beyond religion, doctrines, denominations, race, sexual orientation and nationality.

God is love and he lives within us. By allowing his love to flow out of us we can look beyond our differences and accept one another even when we disagree.

Only by loving God and loving one another through the power of the Spirit will others see a difference in those of us who are followers of Christ.

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