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Archive for the ‘Jesus follower’ Category

by Jim Gordon

As followers of Christ, I feel we should be able to accept and love everyone. No matter what we believe, what our faith or doctrine is, no matter our religion, nationality, sexual preference or color, we should try to see each other as Jesus sees us. This is a type of love we cannot do on our own. It is only possible by the love of God within us.

We want to love, accept and care for people. It is only natural that we will not always agree, but we want to look past those areas of difference and love each other in Christ. This seems to be the way that others will come to see the love of God; not through condemning and bashing one another nor in trying to prove we are right and everyone else is wrong. Love does not mean seeing eye-to-eye, it does not mean we agree or even like some of the things people do. It does mean we look past the differences and we love and respect each other as Christ loves us.

We all have different opinions, views and interpretations of things. We all come from different backgrounds and beliefs. Yet, no matter if we are LGBTQ/straight, Christian/atheist, Republican/Democrat, American/foreign, white/black, male/female or whatever label people put on us, the fact is we are all human beings. We all deserve to be treated with respect and be accepted. Each of us should be able to live our life and make our own choices without being judged and condemned by others. We should be able to discuss our differences respectfully, and none of us should try to force our views and choices on others.

If we could look past the labels we wear and see each other as people who overall want the same things. We all want to be happy, to find love, be healthy and enjoy life. If we could do that, I think showing godly love to one another would be easier, even in our differences.

We need to look past the labels and see each other as human beings who have feelings, and who want share love and friendship. We want to be people who can get to know one another, learn from one another, share thoughts and ideas and accept each other as being created in the image of God.

We are all different, we all wear different labels, yet we are all the same. We are all human beings created in the image of God. Let us each try to focus on the common goal of loving God and loving one another.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

Believing God exists or doesn’t exist requires faith, but it seems intuitive a loving Creator would love the way we were created to love. We can examine what a loving God is like though our moral intuitions, our consciences. Christians may argue we should trust “biblical truths” about God, but differing interpretations exist for many moral issues. See here. Also, we can’t prove if biblical writers always understood God perfectly. We aren’t always certain how to best love, but we know that we or a Creator ought to love others as we want to be loved.

What does the Bible really say about God and gays? 

Leviticus (18:22, 20:13) list unnatural male same sex activities as an abomination. Unnatural in OT times could be sex not for procreation. We can’t be sure what activity the writers had in mind. Are lesbians safe because nothing is said about same sex women activities? The OT also lists as abominations lying lips, arrogance, etc. Are straights screwed? The word “homosexual” doesn’t appear in some English translations before 1946.  In passages such as I Cor.6:9-10 and I Tim. 1:10 the translation often wasn’t homosexuals” but “boy molesters.” Big difference! And the passage says wrongdoers don’t inherit the kingdom of God. I guess we are all screwed! 

Many growing up in church only condemn gays out of devotion to the God of the Bible. Let’s assume it could be proven God controlled pens and minds of the writers so every word in the Bible came from God. The truth is literature requires interpretation, even if ever word written, edited, or translated was inspired by God. We mustn’t claim our interpretations are infallible when being wrong has tremendous consequences. Scholars, who accept Scriptures as authoritative, don’t agree the Bible condemns same-gender loving relationships. See here.

Why would anyone choose to be gay? 

How could a loving God possibly condemn gays when they can no more choose who they are attracted to than straights can? If you are a straight man, don’t you naturally have to fight not looking at naked women than men? Ask gays their battle! Who chooses to be gay when one has to hide their sexuality because of bigotry and hostility? The mental health damage is tremendous!

Parents often only condemn their gay children because of a supposed correct interpretation of a Book. It is impossible to feel loved and accepted when someone says “I love you but I hate your sin.” But we tell alcoholics we hate their sin! Hating homosexual sex is only loving if homosexual sex is sinful. Hating alcoholic behavior is loving because alcohol abuse really is harmful. A parent need not reject a gay child according to the Bible.

What do our moral intuitions, consciences tell us about God and gays?

My moral intuitions tell me that God is not bias against females, people of color, or gays. Shouldn’t we choose the least harmful view? We don’t know why one has feelings for the same sex or opposite sex. If you think there is a .0001% possibility that science proves sexual orientation isn’t a choice, why would we judge? It’s a myth that sexual choices are always the result of some trauma or rebellion in our lives. I am convinced the Bible is silent on monogamous same sex relationships, while supporting relationships that show love and concern for one another.

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

Growing up in church, we were always told it was our job to go out and convert others to our faith. We were often threatened with the statement, if we do not convert others their blood will be on our hands.

Looking back on it, is this really what God expects of us? Is it our job as followers of Christ to convert the unsaved? Are we to force our views and beliefs on others so that they might come to God?

Today, my answer would be a definite no. It is our job to follow Christ and love others, and the Holy Spirit’s job to convict and lead people to the Father.

We cannot convert others; we cannot make them come to Christ by forcing our views and beliefs on them. Only the Holy Spirit can convict the world of sin and lead them to repentance.

Jesus said in 1 John 3:23 – ‘And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us’. Apart from that, we have nothing more to do than to be available to Him and allow the Spirit to work and love through us.

Also, we are told in 1 Peter 3:15 – ‘But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear’. To me, this says we are to live a life of love and service to others so that they will notice a difference in our lives. When they ask, we should be ready to tell them that it is the love of God within us.

We are called to make disciples, but disciples would be those who already have a relationship with Christ. The dictionary describes a disciple as a professed follower of Christ. We are to be there to encourage and help one another into maturity in their walk following Jesus. This is done by regular fellowship (read more about fellowship here) and getting to know one another so that we can encourage, build up, and lead by example.

We are also told to go into all the world and preach the gospel. The gospel being the good news that God loves us, has provided freedom from our sinful nature and has restored fellowship with us. Again, this is done by loving God and loving others on a daily basis. It is showing God’s love by example. It is not by being judgmental, pointing fingers, using guilt and other means that are sometimes used to try to force others to accept Christ.

When we show the love of God to others and accept them as they are, people will be drawn to Christ through love rather than by using condemning and threatening ways. This does not mean we have to agree with everyone or say you can live anyway you want with no consequences, but we can show the love of Christ to non-believers and accept them without expecting them to change and start acting like we think they should. God accepted us as we were before we came to Him, we should do the same.

Share the good news of God’s love to those you meet by loving them. Encourage and make disciples out of those who have come to Christ by loving them. Stop trying to force salvation on non-believers out of obligation, guilt and condemnation. Just love them. Love is the answer. God is love.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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Where I found connection after I left the church

by Jim Gordon
As published at Backyard Church

Photo by Suzanne Emily O’Connor on Unsplash

The word ‘fellowship’ is just another one of those Christian buzzwords that you almost never heard outside of the church. We hear the word fellowship often and we all have our ideas about what it actually means to fellowship with others.

For me, growing up in the church world taught me about the need for fellowship with other believers. Of course, this fellowship was reserved for the weekly gathering inside a building on Sunday. I remember thinking that real Christian fellowship was sitting there each week, listening and watching others perform for God, then shaking hands with someone while on the way out the door.

For many years while within the institutional church, I never thought about fellowship in any other way than what I had been taught. Fellowship was with people who believed just like me. I always felt it may be dangerous to associate with people who believed differently or did not believe at all. After all, they may cause me to fall or backslide in my faith.

Now That We’ve Left The Church, Where Do We Go?

After many years of an uneasy feeling and not being satisfied with our church life, my wife and I decided to leave the organization and live outside the walls of religion. After leaving the church, my wife and I wondered where would we go for friends and ‘fellowship’

I found an answer in an article my friend, Rocky Glenn wrote entitled ‘Fellowship and Community’ in which he talked about fellowship within the church and leaving that church fellowship. He says:

“Two of the most common questions asked when others learn you have made the conscious decision to live the Christian life outside the walls and confines of a traditional church building are “Who do you fellowship with?” or “Where do you find community?”

These questions show how conditioned we have become in the institutional church to speaking our own language and seeing the world through the lenses of our stained-glass windows. The two terms — fellowship and community — are rarely heard outside the context of church. For example, have you ever invited a coworker to dinner or for a drink by asking them if they wanted to fellowship? When you are sitting in the stands at the high school football game, do you often lean over to the guy sitting next to you and explain how happy you are the two of you can experience community together? While each of these examples, by definition, constitutes the term used, we do not speak in such a manner on a normal basis and to do so would actually be quite silly. To fellowship with another is to have a friendly association over shared interests.

Rocky’s statement shows that fellowship can and does happen outside the church walls. It can happen in a restaurant, a bar, a football game, or on a street corner.

Photo by Kevin Curtis on Unsplash

Once my wife and I began to realize that fellowship happens anywhere, it did not take long for God to bring people across our paths in places and at times we never expected.

We were sitting in a local café one morning relaxing and drinking our morning coffee when we noticed two men at the next table. One was a young long-haired hippy-looking guy talking with an older gentleman. We could not help but hear their conversation at times and we kept noticing that they were talking about God and life in Christ.

After some time of listening, we decided to politely ask about their conversation and found that the younger guy was in a Christian heavy metal band. He had left the traditional church a few years ago and was living outside the walls of religion like us. This was an encouragement to us because it showed us that God can provide people for fellowship at any time and in any place. We just need to be alert and ready.

What Is Fellowship?

Fellowship, according to Merriam-Webster is a company of equals or friends; the quality or state of being in a comradery. Over the years of sitting in a church service, I never saw fellowship take place that matched up to this definition.

For the usually meaningless talk that goes on at a Sunday morning church service, there is no way that meaningful fellowship will happen.

Fellowship is more than listening, more than having similar beliefs or doctrinal views. It is getting to know people for who they are, even if it means they see things differently. It is being yourself and having people accept you for you. It is caring and responding in meaningful, respectful ways.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 states, ‘Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you also are doing’. As this verse tells us, fellowship is to encourage each other and build one another up. It is not totally agreeing or seeing things the same way. We are to be a positive help to our fellow human beings.

In our world today, people seem to want to stay separated into like-minded groups. We see it in all the various denominations in church, we see it in all the various interest groups and social groups. Everyone wants to fellowship only with people who are like them.

Finding Fellowship In The Wrong Places

Looking back on it now, I can see that I had more fellowship with my non-Christian friends in the backyard or at school than I did sitting in a religious service each week. I passed up many opportunities in the past to meet with people and in places that had nothing to do with church or any religious activity. Due to my religious upbringing and understanding that fellowship took place in church, I felt a little guilty about enjoying fellowship with others outside of church and with people who were not always so like-minded.

Fortunately, I have found that fellowship can happen anywhere and anytime. It does not have to be within the confines of an organized service in a church. In fact, it normally does not happen there. God brings opportunities each day to talk to people and share love and acceptance. What we need to do is erase the concept that fellowship only happens in a church service. We need to be alert to the leading of the Spirit and ready to greet people with the love of God.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

It seems that people just want to be heard and accepted. Even those who are quiet or a little introverted will open up and talk when they find someone who is genuine, caring, and truly listens. Often, one person listening can bring about the most meaningful times of fellowship.

A Religious Man, A Morman and A Truck Driver

(and no, they did not walk into a bar)

Just the other day, my wife and I heard about a young man who was returning to his military base after leave. Unfortunately, he was involved in a serious car accident and died due to his injuries. Our local town was honoring this young soldier by having residents line the streets as his hearse and small motorcade passed by.

While we were standing on the street corner waiting, we met a few people we never thought about running into. First, there was a man who was obviously religious. It was interesting talking to him knowing we had some commonalities in our faith. Yet at times it was obvious he had some beliefs that were very traditional and strictly religious. The good thing was we were outside the walls of a church and were able to talk and express ourselves without getting into a big debate over doctrine or denominational beliefs.

While we were talking with this gentleman, two young men came walking up and stopped to talk a minute. They were both dressed in white shirts with ties and the same style of pants. It was very obvious they were Mormon missionaries. It would have been easy to ignore them or tell them we were not interested and get them to move on.

Fortunately, we did not do that. We were nice and accepting to them and talked about a variety of topics. I think they were a little surprised that someone would actually carry on a conversation with them without debating or arguing over their beliefs. We actually had a very nice talk for about fifteen minutes and learned a little bit about each other apart from our differences in doctrine.

Not long after the missionaries moved on, an older gentleman walked up and asked what was going on with all the people lining the streets. We told him what was happening and he decided to wait and pay his respects also. He started talking a little about himself and told us he used to be a truck driver. Once he noticed that my wife and I were really listening and paying attention, he suddenly opened up about several personal issues and the pain of losing a child when he was younger. We ended up talking another twenty minutes about his family and his history and hopefully made his day a little brighter.

What Does Real Fellowship Look Like?

The purpose of talking about these encounters is to show that God can bring people into our lives for the purpose of fellowship when we least expect it. Who knew when we stood on the street corner to pay respects to a person we did not know, we would have personal encounters with three separate people and enjoy times of real fellowship with each of them?

Fellowship is no more than listening, responding with kindness, caring, and showing the love of God. We all can do it if we take the time to pay attention to the needs of others and show them we are interested in what they have to say.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

Fellowship really is not hard to do. Be yourself and allow other people to do the same. Be respectful, kind, and share the love of God in a way that makes people feel they matter.

The Last Word

Fellowship can happen anytime, anywhere, and more often than not, it does not happen within the confines of a religious service. Fellowship is not just a Christian happening; It is for all people.

There are so many people in our world who are hurting or confused and just need someone to listen to them. Be ready, be alert and follow the leading of the Spirit to show love and accept people for just being themselves. Something so simple can mean so much to someone who needs a little fellowship.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

The short answer to what belief God requires is none. We can only compare a loving God to what a loving parent may require. Such a parent requires nothing. They love their child unconditionally in hopes the child will choose to return their love. As a child gets older, love doesn’t interfere as we often only learn through the consequences of our actions. God created freedom so God is required to be uncontrolling.

Doesn’t God in the Bible require belief to get into Heaven?

Many claim that the Bible was written to instruct people what beliefs avoid God’s wrath and Hell. Many scholars now recognize that the Bible’s main message is expressing God’s desire to have a relationship with each and every individual in this world to face inevitable challenges. See here.

Jesus didn’t talk about escaping torture after death. Jesus replied to simply love God and your neighbor (Lk.10:25-37) when asked how to have eternal life. Jesus’ focus wasn’t on quantity of life after death but about a life worth living here on earth. Jesus’ message wasn’t about requiring certain beliefs but avoiding making destructive choices. This is the message of any loving parent!

Doesn’t God at least require belief in God?

God isn’t a God of chance! The majority of people born into this world never had a Bible? The truth is the majority of people accept or rebel against a certain religion based on the family born into whether it be Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. A child who was sexually abuse by their father may struggle to accept a God who is most often betrayed as our Father in Heaven. Do you really think a loving God is going to judge all based on their beliefs during a short time here on earth influenced by so many random factors?

Surely you have to believe in the mother of all beliefs?

Don’t you have to believe at least Jesus resurrected from the dead? I know even asking this question is offensive to many, but I care more about those who want to believe in a God but struggle with certain requirements as opposed to those who are already convinced a loving God is real. Jesus told followers He was coming back from the dead and they didn’t believe Him. And they supposedly witnessed miracles beforehand to have less doubts such a claim was possible.

I would like to think more of us if we witness a man or woman coming back from the grave after being killed that we would be convinced of their message. But none of us lived during biblical times, so we will not have such an opportunity. I happen to believe the historical evidence is credible that Jesus rose from the grave, but God can handle doubts or skepticism.

God only hopes for what every loving parent desires

I am convinced God only wishes for all to consider the possibility of a loving God who desires to help you in your journey of becoming the person deep down you want to become. Loving, human parents don’t require certain beliefs from their children before hoping they will consider if they love them. Are we better lovers than God?

Do you want to believe more in God? I am not sure there is anything to lose in beginning a journey of faith if the desire is to live life with fewer regrets. Personally, the biggest reason for being a God-follower is the inspiration and encouragement I sense in striving to be a better human being. If God is real, they should be able to make their case with each individual.

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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The Spirit of God Lives in Us

by Jim Gordon

1 Corinthians 3:16,17 – Do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? If any man destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy, and that is what you are.

The Old Covenant days of the temple are over. According to the New Covenant, we are now God’s house the Spirit of God lives within us. So many people say the organized church is where God lives, but this verse tells us that God is more personal than that. God can no longer be contained within a building. We are His dwelling place.

The church is not God’s temple

Each one of us who are saved by grace are now the temple of God. It is so hard to get away from the thought that God is up there somewhere, or that we have to go to church and wait for God to show up. This kind of thinking is now obsolete.

These verses point out that the temple of God is holy, and that is what we are. We are His temple, and that makes us holy. Not by any works we have done or can do, but by the work that Christ has done. It is hard for us to accept the fact that in Christ, we are holy and righteous. We are kings and priests. We were sinners, but the old sin nature was crucified with Christ on the cross. It is now dead and we are new creatures in Him.

We are Holy and Righteous

We need to stop being so negative and depressed because we feel like we have let God down and unable to live a holy life. Actually, we cannot live a holy life, but God, through the grace of Christ, makes us holy. We are the righteousness of God. It is Him, Jesus our all in all, living in us.

Our spirit is now holy and righteous. Our mind is still being transformed and our body is still a work in progress, but thanks be to God, our spirit has been made perfect.

Let’s start focusing on the fact that God is right here within us through His Spirit. We do not have to go somewhere looking for Him, we do not have to wait for Him to show up. Right now, we are in His presence. He is the vine, we are the branches. Rest in Him and allow the Spirit to love those around you each day.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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It May Be Better to be Known for What They are For

by Jim Gordon

It seems that many Christian people are more known for what they are against rather than the good things of God they are for.

I am becoming increasingly aware of the fact that I do not want to be known as someone who is always against something. Whatever that may be, against this sin or that sin, this group or that group, against a particular denomination or Bible version, all the different ideas and subjects we can come up with that end up taking away our main focus, our love for Christ.

Be Known for Love

Jesus told us in the New Covenant that His commands were to love God and love others. We do not have to agree with everyone to love them. We obviously all have our convictions of right and wrong, yet we do not have to focus on those convictions or try to prove our reasoning to others. We are told to love others no matter what. We are not responsible for converting people, that is the Spirit’s job. We are told to love them.

When Jesus walked the earth, He did not spend a lot of time with the religious people. He was out with the sick, despised, neglected, and sinners of the day. Those who the religious people would not want to be around.

Obviously, God calls us to follow Him and that is going to be in different ways for each of us. Yet to spend more time arguing, condemning, trying to prove our interpretations of the Bible, pointing out people’s mistakes and shortcomings, does not help promote showing the love of God to others.

The Grace of Christ

When we begin to understand the freedom we have in Christ, and start living through grace that Christ provided, we can be free to love and accept all those we come in contact with each day. We can show them the love of Christ by allowing the Spirit to live through us.

We do not need to worry so much about who is right and who is wrong. Remember, do not always be against something. Be for Jesus. Be for love. Be for following Jesus daily by loving God and loving one another. Let Him be the central focus of your life and allow His love to flow out of you and touch those around you.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

Both the belief that God exist or doesn’t exist requires faith. Let’s not accuse those who put their faith in God as needing a crutch or accuse those who question the reality of an invisible God as being in denial or immoral. Those of any faith or religion must in politics, business, or friendships respectful convey rights to not believe in God or supposed biblical truths.

One Christian nation can’t exist

A “Christian nation” implies or requires all believe the same. This is a violation of God’s very nature. God created freedom of beliefs for the possibility of authentic relationships. A parent guides their children to freely make future choices hopefully for their benefit as well as for others. God would be a terrible terrorist or extremist since opposed to forcing personal beliefs on others.

But, didn’t God choose one nation under God such as with Israel in the Old Testament? God choose Israel as a mouthpiece to introduce God in the beginning, but God wanted to have a relationship with all nations (i.e. Gen. 12:3). Other nations could look to Israel to compare God against their gods. Jesus didn’t try to turn the Roman Empire into a Christian nation. Jesus taught that serving was more important than gaining power.

A free society isn’t an immoral society 

We all have friends not into God that are moral, and we have Christians friends who seem closer to the devil than God. A society that doesn’t respect freedom to believe in God or not, seems destiny for tyranny. Most Christians think such freedom was given to us by our Creator.

So, everything goes! C’mon! Who doesn’t believe murder or physical or sexual abuse is wrong? We aren’t always certain how to best love, but most know that we ought to love others as we want to be loved. Different opinions on immigration, health care or taxes can stand side by side as we discuss the most loving approach.

Using the Bible as foundational truth

Christians give speeches or hold signs up at civil protests to argue we must follow “biblical truths” as a nation. This is a disregard for freedom of beliefs for all and ignores that differing biblical interpretations exist for major moral issues. See here.  I can’t imagine Jesus holding up a sign. He simply spoke of and lived out caring for others. That is how you make policy.

Discussing what are biblical truths are more appropriate in a worship setting where all share the same beliefs about God. I am convinced though an open view as opposed to an inspired or inerrant view of Scriptures encourages more contemplating what a loving God is really like. And surely an inaudible Creator influences though our moral intuitions. Common, moral sense is not the enemy.

God and politics

The only way we can be a Christian nation is if all believe in God or at least forced to. We must not speak as if all must believe the same. We are fortunate to be able to freely to speak of influences in our life. When people ask what influences or motivates me, I talk about God’s presence in my life. That can be voiced in the public square as well. But our language must carefully respect the beliefs of others and not assume or insist on a belief in God. I believe as a God-follower that God can inspire unselfish motives but each must make that relational decision for themselves.

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

Ephesians 1:22,23 — And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

We talk a lot about the body of Christ, and most often describe it as church. Yet we need to know what true church is, which is His body. It is not a building. It is not someplace we go. Christ is the head of all of us who are saved by grace. We the people are the various body parts that make up the church.

I do not see separation in this statement. I do not see denominations, buildings and formal services trying to get people to come to us. I do not see places based on doctrine. I see a living, active group of people going out into the world day by day in the love and strength of God. I see a united effort seeking to show the love of God to all we meet each day. I see people looking to Jesus and the Holy Spirit for truth and guidance. No more looking to a man/woman or a group of elders for teaching and guidance. Christ is our head and the Spirit is our teacher.

1 Corinthians 3:16 states, do you not know that you are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? The Old Covenant days of the temple are over. According to the New Covenant, we are God’s house, His Spirit lives within us. So many people say the organized church is where God lives, but this verse tells us that God is more personal than that. God can no longer be contained within a building. We are His dwelling place.

Each one of us who are saved by grace are now the temple of God. It’s so hard to get away from the thought that God is up there somewhere, or that we have to go to church and wait for God to show up. This kind of thinking is now obsolete. Remember, the Spirit lives within us, we have the mind of Christ, the Kingdom of God is within us.

My thought is that it is time to stop arguing over doctrine and interpretations. It is time to stop looking to other brothers and sisters whom we elevate into a higher position in an organization. It is time we realize we are all kings and priests and able to teach and give a word to uplift one another. The Spirit lives within us and we should allow God to live through us daily as we go out into the world as his body and be the Church, showing His love to all people.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Mike Edwards

Researchers such as John Marriott and Josh Packard have written on why people are leaving the Christian faith or the institutional church but not always God. Believers must stop claiming people are leaving to justify lifestyle choices. Talk to them! Claiming that those that leave never believed in the first place is suspect as well. There are many more reasons than what I suggest, but perhaps some of the main reasons are true below.  Let’s listen rather than judge!

The Bible may be the biggest reason for wanting nothing to do with God

Christians sometimes argue we should trust “biblical truths” about God. The term is misleading because differing biblical interpretations exist for major moral issues. Certain supposed truths, such as the traditional understanding of Hell, may not be true. Also, the truth is we can’t prove God somehow magically controlled the biblical writers’ thoughts and pens. The writers may not have always understood God perfectly. Uncertainty though isn’t always a bad thing. See here.

Many feel compelled to choose science over God because a literal interpretation of Genesis demands God couldn’t have used evolution in the creative process. A fallible Book may actually lead to knowing God better because surely a Creator influences us through our moral intuitions, consciences. Claims about God, other than evolution can’t be true, can lead to rejecting God.

Certain accusations about God can lead to atheism or leaving God

According to the Bible it has been claimed God approves of putting men over women in leaderships roles at home and in the church. This has encouraged historical dominance by men. People condemn gays, despite their moral intuitions, because God supposedly rejects same gender loving relationships according to a Book. But scholars who accept the Bible as authoritative defend the Bible not showing partiality to men over women and that God doesn’t condemn gays. See here. Since we can’t prove our interpretation is the right one, common, moral sense is not the enemy.

Why doesn’t God intervene more with evil in the world? 

A God who can prevent evil but doesn’t is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child being physically or sexually abused. Answers like “everything happens for a reason” doesn’t suffice for many of us. God’s nature requires their love to be unselfish and uncontrolling. Controlling love is a contradiction in terms. Freedom to love fully may have to include the freedom to hate fully. There may be plausible moral reasons as to why evils exist and God doesn’t intervene. 

When Christians leaders and laypeople act ungodly 

Another obstacle Christians put in the way of others interested in pursuing God is hypocrisy. If you treat people like dirt, I doubt you are being influenced by God. Most folks though understand no one is perfect. But if Christians fail to admit or confess their faults, I doubt others want to discuss your relationship with God. Parents who don’t do as they say should be quiet. 

How to avoid being a hinderance to those seeking God 

Don’t accuse those who have no inclination to include God in their lives being less moral. If we judge others at all, let’s challenge one another to love others as we want to be loved. What can we say to those wanting to talk about God or spirituality? Suffering and a loving God co-existing often makes no sense. Have an open discussion. Discuss worrisome claims made about God that seem unlikely. Our intuitions aren’t the enemy. Finally, if you want others to consider your God because God has made a big difference in your life, walk the talk. Seek forgiveness when wrong.

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

 

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