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Archive for the ‘The church’ Category

by Jim Gordon

Those of us who are living 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 seem to 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’ and not with brick and mortar.

My wife and I left the church because we felt the system was not the way God intended and we became unsatisfied with the way things were going. 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 over anyone else. Each of us are 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 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 or sister hundreds of miles away yet bonded closely through the Spirit.

We are so conditioned to think of the church building and its scheduled events as the main way of fellowship and learning. We are told in the Bible that when we come together each of us should have a word, or a song, or a praise, but how often does that actually happen within the institutional church? 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 who God is to them. It seems that sitting quietly in a church service does not fulfill what God intended fellowship to be among his children.

A vitally important thing to remember for those of us who have left the church organization is that we should not have a feeling of ‘us vs them’. We need to keep in mind that those who attend church are doing so because they love God and feel 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 various parts of the Church that Jesus is building and we each need to follow the leading of the Spirit for ourselves.

As people of God, we are to love God and love others. We cannot do that in our own strength but by the power of the Spirit within us. Sadly, it often seems we have a problem loving our brothers and sisters in Christ and an even greater problem loving those who see things differently.

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 God and for one another. The world needs to see the love of God in action among those who follow God. They do not need to see arguing, fighting and the disrespect that is sadly, so familiar among Christians today.

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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That is the Question

by Jim Gordon

Growing up in the church, I know we are taught to be a witness for Christ. It seems we are made to feel we have to use every opportunity to tell others about Jesus or we have not fulfilled our obligation to lead others to salvation. Sometimes, we are even told if we do not witness to people, their blood will be upon our hands.

Have you ever felt guilty because you did not say something to someone about Christ? Do you feel obligated to speak your mind about a particular sin? Do you feel it is your duty as a Christian to force every opportunity into a chance to tell someone about salvation?

Quite frankly, I disagree with all of the above. I feel that not all of us need to be forcing the issue with those we come in contact with each day. I can remember a few instances when I met someone while shopping who seemed extremely nice and pleasant to carry on a conversation. They made me feel good and I actually thought I might have a new friend. Then, later on in the conversation I would find out they were selling Amway. Now, nothing wrong with Amway, but when I found out they were not the nice, caring people who were interested in me but only interested in recruitment, I was very disappointed.

I think it is the same with us Christians. When we use every opportunity to force a conversation about God, we are not being real. We are told to love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and love others as ourselves. When we live our lives each day under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and the love of God, the way we act will be a witness to God’s love. There is no need to force conversations, just be genuine and care about people.

Anyone can speak words…words of condemnation, words of how we should live for God, words against particular sins, but words themselves have no strength in themselves. It is the daily life we live allowing the love of God to show through that makes a difference. When we consistently live what we believe and say, it has more impact than thousands of words. Forcing conversations and friendships for ulterior motives just turn people off. 

We should remember that it is the Holy Spirit that convicts and draws people to God. It is not our job to be judgmental, condemning and trying to prove to people that they are sinning.

God’s word says that we should live a quiet life, working with our hands and be ready to give an account of the hope that is within us.

Notice we are told to be ready to speak up when asked. Go about your daily routine, minding your business, living a peaceful life, but be ready at all times to give an answer about salvation and God’s love when someone asks. The important part is when they ask, we do not force anything upon anyone. Only when the Holy Spirit is leading the opportunity and the words, will it make an impact on the person anyway. Apart from that, just love people, be genuine and caring.

By living this lifestyle, and not forcing our views on others, the words we say will have more meaning to those who are wondering what the hope is that we have within us.

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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but not Necessarily Religious

by Jim Gordon

There actually is a difference between being spiritual and being religious, although many people think of the two as being the same thing.

Being religious is basically following the rules and doctrines of a specific organization or denomination, or what we usually call church.

Being spiritual can bring to mind all kinds of strange thoughts and ideas. Yet, when I say spiritual, I am talking about a daily life following Christ and allowing His love to flow through us, apart from the doctrines and teachings of any specific religious organization.

My wife and I are no longer religious. We left the weekly meeting at a local building and no longer follow any particular doctrine. Yet being outside the walls of religion, we are more aware of the spiritual, day-to-day life of following the example of Jesus.

We realize that God is not a being up in heaven, coming down to visit us only when the conditions are right, or when we are in a certain building, or when we have been extremely good over the past week.

God is spirit and He is with us constantly. As a quote by Michael Beckwith states “God is a presence that’s never in absence. This presence is everywhere, so, you would never pray for God to come here, because the presence of God is infinite.”

Or as it reads in 1 Corinthians 6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?

I am not sure why it is we have always been taught that God is way up there somewhere. Jesus says that we are one with God in John 17:21 ‘that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me’. God is not somewhere off in Heaven waiting on us. He lives within us and will never leave us.

We seem to think that the Kingdom of God is a place we go one of these days when this life on earth is over. I think this is also a big misconception. God says His Kingdom is within us. That means right now, not some future date. That is what Jesus spent so much time teaching about, the Kingdom of God.

If we could only get these truths in our head and in our spirit, I think we could live a life that would really make a difference. Rather than see religious people who fight and argue over their differences in doctrine and interpretation, they could see spiritual people living a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness and faithfulness, all in the power of the Spirit.

Unfortunately, we have been taught by religion to rely on trying to work hard, follow the rules and just survive until we get to heaven. We go from Sunday to Sunday, living life without the power of the Kingdom of God. We argue amongst ourselves over doctrine and belief, and by doing so, people see we really do not have anything to offer them that is meaningful and different.

Jesus was the perfect example of God living in man. Jesus came to show us what God may really be like.

We can be Jesus to the world today. We can show love, compassion, and acceptance to the world around us each day. We are not God, but we are one with God. The Spirit is within us and he will teach us, guide us and give us power to love all people.

Listen for the voice of the Spirit in every situation. Realize God is within you and allow His love to touch those around you every 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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by Chris Kratzer Guest Blogger
www.chriskratzer.com/

That’s right, you don’t need it. At all.

You can live and do everything Jesus commanded and modeled without “church.”

In fact, often better.

With a steeple on nearly every corner, if churches are making such a positive difference in the world for Jesus, why do we see an increasingly far less positive world and why do we see increasingly far less of Jesus?

“Church” doesn’t work, that’s why. Not with a “gospel” of belief-dependent salvation from a torturous god-designed hell. Not to mention, sin-management, conditional love, a codependent god, reaching the so-called “lost,” and converting and colonizing the so-called “world.” That’s a gospel that is no Gospel at all. It makes people worse, not better; more fearful, not at peace; more self-centered, not humanity-serving. In fact, it’s evil. Anti-Christ to the core.

95 percent of Christianity… anti-Christ.

There, I said it.

Church was never the invention of Jesus, you are the invention of Jesus. You are the church. Each one of us, individually. The mind of Christ is within you. Enough Love to change the planet is within you. Everything of the Universe is within you. Yet, so often, “church” blinds, poisons, restricts, distorts, and kills this Light that is within all humanity. A blackhole to all that is good, holy, and right. It exchanges individual, spiritual freedom for communal conformity; divine affirmation for organizational condemnation; and hope and peace for tribal shame, fear, control, and human abuse. More often than not, “church” is the disease, not the cure. And we wonder why the world doesn’t get any better, especially Christians.

You don’t need “church” to find “like-minded” people.

You don’t need “church” to validate or authenticate your faith.

You don’t need “church” for spiritual growth and maturity.

You don’t need “church” to maximize your impact through a “team.”

You don’t need “church” for accountability or support.

You don’t need “church” to find and live your life with joy, significance, and purpose.

If church is a place you go, a service you attend, a creed you follow, or a people you gather with, you’ll never get there, you’ll never find it, and you’ll never have it.

Instead, church is you; you loving neighbor, selflessly serving the world, feeding the hungry, freeing the captive, welcoming the stranger, mending the brokenhearted, defending the least-of-these, and proclaiming the unconditional divine favor, affirmation, equality, and inclusion of all into All.

It’s you taking care of the needs in front of you. It’s you resisting and undoing systems of injustice, violence, greed, and oppression. It’s you being you in ways that honor Love and authenticity. It’s you disconnecting from a self-esteem that’s shackled to personal performance and production. It’s you closing the Bible searching for a perfect thread, answer, defense, meaning, truth, or justification and, instead, opening the Light within you revealing the perfect One, Mind, Spirit, and Universe.

That’s the Church we need.

It’s you. You, and only you.

You are the renewal God is bringing to the earth.

The church we need can’t be contained in a building.

The church we need can’t be confined to a creed.

The church we need can’t be conformed by fear.

The church we need can’t be caged into the Bible.

The church we need can’t be compromised by racism, greed, power, and hate.

The church we need can’t be coerced into judgment, pride, supremacy, and ignorance.

The church we need can’t be controlled by leaders.

The church we need can’t be chaperoned by patriarchy.

The church we need can’t be converted through guilt.

The church we need can’t be calculated in numbers.

The church we need can’t be commissioned by vision.

It needs no defense.

It needs no pastor.

It needs no committee.

It needs no membership covenant.

It needs no budget.

It needs no conferences, books, or celebrity.

It needs no light systems, branding, or worship choruses.

It needs no gathering of the like-minded.

It needs no team-work to make the dream-work.

The church we need is… you.

Everything else is the “church” we don’t need. Everything else is the “church” that isn’t Church at all.

In fact, for far too many, “church” is the crutch and disguise that keeps them from actually following Jesus. It’s the spiritual pacifier of the spiritually restricted and resistant.

For what does most every church and church leader hate and fear the most?

The revelation and reality that you don’t need “church” at all. That you can live and do everything Jesus commanded and modeled without “church.” In fact, often better. And very likely, not until you’ve walked away from all of it.

It’s true. You don’t need “church,” and God doesn’t either.

Your move.

Grace is brave. Be brave.

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by Dan Foster

It has been over three years since I last went to church. For a kid who grew up going to church every week, twice a week, for the first 38 years of my life, this feels like a big deal. Occasionally, I feel like I should get out my Sunday best, dust off my hymnal, and head down to the local chapel for old time’s sake, or perhaps to appease some lingering sense of internal guilt that tells me I am destined for the bowels of Hell — a belief that, ironically enough, I picked up from my involvement in church in the first place.

And that’s a big part of the reason that I walked away from the institution. I couldn’t stand how guilt and fear were used as tools to manage and manipulate people’s behavior. I couldn’t stand the performance-based religion where I constantly strived to receive God’s blessing, acceptance, and forgiveness. Above all, I couldn’t hack the hypocrisy that I observed in certain church leaders. If these men are anything like the God they purport to serve, then I want nothing to do with it!

And so I walked away. But, I am not alone. For example, in the USA alone, around three and a half thousand believers walk away from the Christian church every single day. According to the online publication The Christian Century, in the USA, an average of nine churches per day shut their doors for good. Yet, according to Barna Research, over 70% of Americans still identify as Christians. And so do I. My problem is not with Jesus. So far as I am concerned, he is history’s preeminent teacher of love, grace, and compassion and worthy of being followed. Rather, my problem is with the church. Which left me with a conundrum. How do I follow Jesus now that I don’t go to church, especially when almost every expression of my faith had been linked to the church up until this point in my life? In addition, I have observed that the Bible assumes that all Christians will be part of a faith community of some kind. Christianity has always been and always will be a communal religion, so I knew I couldn’t do it alone. So how do I do Christian faith without being part of the institutionalized church?

And so, I created this online faith community. Welcome to church! The Backyard Church is a safe place for people who still have a faith but can’t, don’t, or simply don’t want to go to church in the traditional sense. Maybe you’ve lost faith in the system. Maybe you’ve been hurt by the church or other Christians. Maybe you find the church is not an emotionally safe place to ask your questions or share your doubts. Maybe you’ve even arrived at a place where you want to grow in your faith, but the church is taking you around in circles. You have come to the right place. Let me tell you what you’ll find here in the Backyard Church.

Here you’ll find a safe place for your faith to fall apart without being judged for it. Here you’ll find people who will walk with you while to try to piece it all back together as well. Here you’ll find a safe place to ask your big questions, share your doubts, talk about your pain, and unpack your religious trauma. Here you’ll have access to thought-provoking and challenging content that will help you move forward. Here you’ll be able to connect with like-minded people from all over the world who are on a similar journey. Here you’ll be able to chat with other church members and leaders openly and honestly. Here you’ll be able to participate in online forums and discussions about matters of faith. No church is perfect. This one won’t be either. But, my hope is that in this church community, we can at least be honest, real, and open.

Everyone’s story is welcome here without judgment. No need to perform. No need to try to impress. If you’re longing for a church community like that, then welcome home! Whoever you are, you belong. I pray that The Backyard Church brings you life, faith, and hope. God bless.

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by Jim Gordon

In our world today there seems to be a lot of talk in the Christian world of standing up for our beliefs, our doctrines and our rights. It seems we feel this is the best way to show our devotion to God and be a witness for Him.

I am not so sure we are going about this in the best way. As Christians we are getting to be known more for what we are against and being unloving and unaccepting rather than showing the love of God to others.

A lot of us go to a church building on Sunday and sing and smile and listen to a sermon and think we have fulfilled our duties for the week. All day we are feeling good and close to God and think everything is good.

Then Monday hits and we go grudgingly off to work with a frown on our face and feeling down. We may be in a bad mood and snap at our fellow employees and try to make them feel as bad as we do.

It seems we forget that Christianity is not a religious, one day a week life. As followers of Christ, we are to let Christ live through us in the strength of the Holy Spirit. We are to let his love flow out of us to touch those we come in contact with throughout each day.

Rather than try to win people over to our way of thinking by pointing out their mistakes and shortcomings, rather than condemning them and making them feel like outsiders we should be allowing the love of Christ to touch them. We should be accepting, and we should treat all people like we want to be treated.

While Jesus lived here on earth, he constantly spent time with those the religious crowd would not even think of being around. He spent time doing things that the religious leaders thought were wrong and against their religious laws. They could not even accept him as the messiah because he was so different from them and what they thought was a godly way of living.

Jesus loved people for who they were, just the way they were. He did not show judgment and condemnation toward them. He loved them and wanted the best for them. As followers of Christ, we are to do the same. It is not our job to be the judge of others and treat them like second class people. The Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin where conviction is needed. We are here to be Jesus to all people, loving, accepting and treating everyone with respect no matter who they are or what they believe.

In our world today, with all the discrimination and unloving ways of the world and even of the church, we need to allow the Holy Spirit to love through us to touch others and let them know they are accepted and cared for. In God’s eyes they are loved beyond measure. Love is the way of God because God is love.

Stop the unloving and condemning attitudes and let those you come in contact with each day know they are loved and accepted just for being themselves.

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 Jim Gordon

I remember when I was young, I was in a church service just about any time the doors were open. My whole spiritual life depended on whether I was at church or not. If I did not go, I felt guilty and made sure I was there the next time.

I was always active and participated in many church activities. I felt it was my duty and responsibility to do all I could for the church. I felt that was the only way I could serve God and do what pleased Him.

After many years of being in the organized church system, my wife and I became disillusioned with the religious organization and became a part of ‘The Dones’. We no longer attend a traditional or organized church, and no longer put any hope or trust in religion.

Does this mean we no longer think it is right to be part of a church? Not at all, yet for us, we are satisfied no longer being part of it and we are happy with the decision we made to leave. Yet, that does not mean we expect everyone else to think the same way. We have several friends who are satisfied with the church system and want to continue to attend services.

In our case, after leaving the organized church we have noticed a feeling of separation between church goers and non-church goers. After all the years we spent in the organization and all the friends we made, once we left, we noticed the struggle many people have to overcome a feeling of us and them. Obviously, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and there should be love and acceptance between us no matter if we attend church or not.

If you still feel drawn to the weekly organized meeting, I do not see anything wrong with it. Although we do not believe the church system is designed as God intended, there were many good things that came out of our time being involved. If you are going to be a part of a local church, keep in mind some important facts.

When going to church, you are not going to God’s house. God does not live in buildings made by human hands, but He builds His Church from living stones, which is us.

The Bible is not to be held in the same regard as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The written word is inspired by God but written by men. All the translating men have done over the years, and men deciding which books are inspired and which are not, make it pretty clear that the bible is going to be flawed.  It is clearly stated that Jesus is the living, inerrant Word of God. The written word is a guide to lead us to Christ, but as Jesus told the Pharisees in John 5:39, You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me. They put the scriptures (written word) above the Living Word (Jesus).

The pastor is not God’s mouthpiece. He or she is only a brother or sister in Christ who is to walk alongside us to encourage and build one another up. We have the Holy Spirit within us who is our teacher and guide. We need no one else. It is good to hear other opinions and ideas, yet it is the Spirit that is to be our teacher and guide.

Bringing the tithe into the storehouse is not giving money to the church, and is no longer a requirement. We give from love as we determine in our heart to give. If you give at the church you attend, you are not giving to God but to support the organization and pay the bills.

Sunday is not the “Lord’s Day”. Every day is the day the Lord has made, and no particular day is more important than another.

When we are told not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, it is not talking about an organized church meeting. It is talking about loving and accepting one another, and depending on one another. It is supporting and encouraging one another on our daily walk with God and one another. We do this in many different ways each and every day, not just on one particular day.

When you go to church, do not fall for someone telling you God is going to show up and the Spirit is going to fall on this place. God is everywhere and the Spirit fell upon mankind 2000 years ago. The Spirit of God is within us and with us all the time. He is not sitting on a throne up in heaven waiting for us. He goes with us each and every day, everywhere we go.

Realize that worship is not singing a few songs, raising your hands when the worship leader tells you to and reading a few scripture verses together. Worship is daily praising God, trusting God and letting Him be Lord of your life. To worship God in spirit and truth involves loving Him with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.

And do not give way to a prideful spirit, thinking you are more spiritual or a “better” Christian because you went to church. Going to a service is a choice, not a requirement and you are no better if you go, and no worse off if you do not go.

Remember, each of us are living stones and equal parts of the body. We are the Church and Jesus is the head of his body. As his Church, we are to show God’s love every day to everyone we meet. If you want to attend a local group of believers there is nothing wrong with that. Enjoy meeting with other believers, enjoy the atmosphere but remember you are the Church, you have the mind of Christ and the Spirit of God lives within you. We are to go about our daily lives under the leading of the Spirit, loving God and loving others.

So, do not look down upon those who have left the organization as backsliders or who have walked away from God. Do not look at those who still attend church as stuck in a man-made institution and following doctrines and interpretations of man. Remember that we are brothers and sisters in Christ and each of us are loving God and doing what we feel is right and best at this point. We should be loving and accepting of one another and let the world see the love we have for one another. As it reads in John 13:35 by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for 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

The majority of people believe there is a God, but I don’t sense God is a major focus with that majority. I’m not making a moral judgment. Many not keen on God treat others as well or better than us God followers. It’s just that many God followers believe their relationship with God has made them a better person. We are convinced if more had a closer relationship with God, this could make for a better world. Do God followers create obstacles that push others away from God?

God-followers make faith in God too complicated 

Many Christians insist on certain beliefs or saying a magic prayer to be a true follower. It’s said you can’t just believe there is a God; the Devil believes in a God! But the Devil was committed to opposing God. I’m not convinced the majority have such a commitment. Even the Bible in one passage doesn’t declare faith a set of beliefs but hope in what you can’t see. (Heb 11:1) Why can’t a God follower be one who hopes/believes in a good God and seeks help being the person they deep down desire to be? If you are a butt according to friends, I still suggest going in with God.

God-followers make dogmatic claims about God according to the Bible 

The Bible is used to condemn gays and oppose women priests or preachers. But biblical scholars who have a deep respect for Scriptures don’t agree what the Bible says about these and other moral issues.  See here. See hereBiblical scholars don’t even agree a literal Hell is a reality in the Bible. See here.  Even if our interpretations were infallible, we can’t be sure the biblical writers always knew or portrayed God accurately. God gave us a brain. Our moral intuitions are not the enemy.

The Bible is used to claim non-Christians can’t go to heaven. The majority of people born into the world didn’t have a Bible or knew of Jesus. Most people accept or rebel against a certain religion based on the family born into whether it is Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, etc. A child sexually abuse by their father may struggle to accept a God who is most often betrayed as our Father in Heaven. No human or spiritual parent brings children into the world requiring their eternal destination be based on circumstances out of one’s control. A loving God can’t be a God of chance! 

God-followers make the Bible an idol for worship 

You don’t have to believe the biblical writers always got God right. Many insist on a literal interpretation of Genesis, to deny that God could have used evolution in the creative process. Don’t reject God because you believe in evolution. No one was there in the beginning. As mentioned, you don’t have to believe in Hell or that God condemns gays or is bias against women. Don’t disregard your moral intuitions in discerning what God is like. See RETHINKING THE BIBLE

God-followers rationalize away why God doesn’t intervene more in evil and suffering 

We say “everything that happens is part of God’s plan” to supposedly protect God’s all-powerful character. We claim God is a mystery to justify God’s evil is sometimes good. Crazy talk! Love cannot insist on its own way. (I Cor 13:5) A good God’s love must be uncontrolling, not manipulative, etc. A God who supposedly can prevent evil but doesn’t is no different than a parent who stands by and watches their child suffer. Evil and suffering in the world may be because God can only intervene when there is human cooperation. See God Can’t by Thomas Oord.

God-followers insist you must believe in miracles or Jesus’ resurrection to be a follower

I don’t know if all the miracles recorded in the Bible really happened or not. I wasn’t there. I don’t doubt the historical accounts of events in NT times, but you may. Jesus didn’t ask the disciples for certain commitments or unshakable belief to follow Him. Some of the disciple didn’t believe Jesus’ resurrection talk until having physical proof. If you saw someone die on a Cross and alive days later, you may believe too. I doubt Jesus rejected those who didn’t instantly go all-in. If wanting to live for the Devil, then don’t follow Jesus.

God-followers insist you have to go to church to be a follower 

Many are done with religion or church but not God. The Church can be a great place of encouragement for like-minded people, but Church can be like politics in today’s world. There is lack of open and meaningful dialogue. I am tired of the cancel culture in church or the public arena. I’m not anti-science or heretical because I disagree. I got tired of being preached at where I couldn’t ask questions directly to leadership when disagreeing with opinions taught. Being so damn certain all the time is hardly relational and fails to recognize reality – biblical scholars don’t disagree what the Bible says about issues that impacts millions of lives. 

God-followers as a group are poor role models

We are all hypocrites, but God followers should at least admit and do something about their failings. Clearly Christians don’t get along as more and more churches and denominations keep forming that creates division not unity. Christian opinions should be able to stand side by side as we continually evaluate the most loving way. It’s hard to make a big impact in the world alone. A Movement succeeding at loving others like they want to be loved maybe can change the World!

God-followers often have hidden agendas in their relationships 

Who blames others for avoiding spiritual conversations with God followers? I hate to admit I use to have a hidden agenda with those outside the church. I was taught God’s good news was saving people from Hell so they could get into Heaven. I was wrong according to Jesus. See here.  I am afraid the ship may have sailed for those on the fence about God, trusting us to have open conversations. I will never stop hoping though. My focus is trying to lead a life where actions speak louder than words.

Maybe taking a leap of faith is worth it

If God claims to love and guide us, God should be up to your challenging God to prove they are worth following.  Don’t believe everything others claim about God. If interested in being the person you want to be deep down, you may be able to do it on your own but I need all the help I can get. Through God’s influence I have experienced God’s encouragement to continually strive to be a better man, husband, father, and friend or at least better than if on my own. I am convinced believing in a good God and pursuing a godly life is not in vain!

Why Don’t More Who Believe In God Pursue God Intensely?

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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and Everyone Else is Confused

by Jim Gordon

For those of us who attended church for any amount of time, we find that there are often people who are acting and responding in ways that are very judgmental and condemning.

Especially when it comes to the gay community, atheists and those of various religious groups and denominations that differ in doctrine from what we think is right. Many of us Christians have a hard time accepting people who think differently.

We would rather fight and defend our interpretation and doctrine and prove our Christian moral way of living rather than show the love of Christ and accept people the way they were made.

I do not understand why we feel the need to try to prove our point and why we have to make sure everyone knows that the way we follow God is the only right way.

One Another: Accept One Another” Romans 15:5-7 – 8:00 and 11:00 Services –  Hanover First Church of God

A lot of us cannot even accept and associate with other believers from a different denomination. So many people say their version of the bible is the only true version or their type of church is the only true church.

I get so fed up with the pride and arrogance of some (not all) groups of Christians who think they have it all figured out and their way is right. They seem to think that you had better believe like they do or they want nothing to do with you.

Even some Christians in the same church, those who have been good friends for years will turn on you if you leave their church. How many times have you been involved in a church you really enjoy and the people are loving and kind only to find once you leave the group you never hear from any of them again?

Though no longer within the institutional church, I had been in the system for well over 50 years so I know what I am talking about. I am not out to bash the church but it does aggravate me to see people who are supposed to show the love of God to all people, yet act so unloving and judgmental to people who think differently. Fortunately, not every church or Christian group is like this but certainly it is the norm for a lot of them.

Why is it that so many Christian people are so mean and condemning to gay people? Why is it we see atheist as our mortal enemy? Why do we reject the interpretations and beliefs of other Christians who attend a different denomination, or, God forbid, who do not go to church at all? Jesus, who is our example, was not like that yet many people did not grow up in church and did not read the bible. Due to this they do not know what Jesus was like. They only know that we who claim to follow Jesus act in such a mean, unaccepting and unloving way.

We need to remember that behind every label we put on people there is a human being. No matter who we are, what we believe, no matter what our lifestyle or our feelings about God, we all are deserving of love and acceptance. Just like each of us who are now Christians were loved and accepted by God even before we knew anything about Him, we should be loving and accepting to everyone we meet because we may be the only Jesus they see.

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 Jim Gordon

Those of us who were brought up in church were taught from an early age that God is up there in heaven somewhere, looking down on us who live here on earth.

When we would have a special meeting or a revival service, I can remember the pastor telling us that God was going to show up and the spirit would fall.

Why is it we are told that God is up there and we are down here? Why are we told God may show up now and then when the conditions are right? Why would God only show up at certain buildings and certain times?

The Bible states that God sent his Spirit to live within us all the time. The Kingdom of God is within us. Jesus prayed in John 17 that we would be one as he and the father are one. God now lives within us since we are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are merged together with Him. We are one with God as Jesus is one with God.

When two people marry, God says they become one. It is the same with God and us. When we put our faith in him and accept his free gift of grace, we become one. We are no longer separate, but we are one with God. That does not mean we are God, but we are merged together as one. We are the temple or house of God. The Spirit lives within us.

We have to get the religious thinking out of us and begin living the truth. God is not up there somewhere, separated from us. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. God is within us. There is no separation, no waiting on God to come down. We do not have to follow Christ, we walk with him because he is within us.

We do not have to wait until Sunday to go to a building for God to show up, that is not his house. We are the body of Christ, each of us are equally important parts. We are his dwelling place, each and every day. We are one with God.

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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