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Have you ever come across someone who calls themself a Christian, yet the way they act says something different?

I remember an experience my wife had recently. She returned a couple books to what used to be a library. She did not realize the library had closed and a church was now there. A few days later she realized that the library was no longer at this site and went back to the church to get the books.

She said she will never forget the look and condescending attitude of the guy she talked to…who turned out to be the pastor.

My wife assumed that this pastor didn’t agree with women wearing makeup or knee-length dresses. Now I know there are groups that don’t believe in women wearing make-up, and I feel that is up to them how they interpret the Bible and what they feel is right and wrong, but my wife does not in any way over do her make-up, so I did not see any reason why anyone would even think to question the way she looked. Obviously this guy had a different thought on this. He was not nice to her, it was obvious that he didn’t want to talk to her and felt she shouldn’t be in his so-called ‘house of God’. What rubbish.

This whole incident made me think of Jesus when he was with some of the religious leaders of His day and made the statement, “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness”.

First off, that building wasn’t the house of God. People tend to forget God doesn’t live in buildings. He lives in people who are saved by grace.

Second, what kind of witness was that to her. This guy did not know if she was a Christian or not. The way he treated her could have been the final straw for her wanting to know God.

We Christians need to stop and think about how we act in the world. We are God’s witnesses to the world. We may be the only witness they see, and if we aren’t living under the guidance of the Spirit of God, we can make a very negative impact of those we come in contact each day.

We need to be careful not to have a religious spirit. Let God’s love for others flow through you. Remember God told us to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. Don’t be a stumbling block to someone by the way you act and treat others.

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A good friend of mine wrote the following paragraph. There is an old hymn that says “On Christ the solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand” As important as the church is in our lives, we have to be careful not to put our hope in it. I have received a lot of help thru the church and a lot of good basic teachings. I was also saved in church but my hope is not in the church. My hope is in “Christ the solid rock”. There are times when we are alone with no Christian fellowship and maybe we can’t make it to church for some reason. We have to be able to stand as mature Christians and rely on our relationship with Christ. The church is no substitute for Christ. It is only where we learn about Him. I guess what I am saying is that we have a relationship with Christ and not the church, and He is our source of strength if we call upon Him in truth. I personally am going thru the desert in life and I have to depend on Him. He has proved His love and care for me and in reality, He is the “Son of the Living God”. Bottom line, let’s be careful to put our dependence on Him. All other ground is sinking sand….

This goes along with some of my posts about modern-day church. The organized church today is a place for believers to get together, but it is not the goal. Going to church does not make us Christians, it does not make us better people or more dedicated believers. It is a place to get ideas and interpretations from others of the Bible, a place to meet other believers, a place to reach out and help others. Basically it is a Christian social organization.

We need to stop putting the focus and emphasis on church, stop putting our eyes on pastors and realize that they are not the answer. We need to put all focus and attention on Christ. He is who we follow and worship. He is the Shepherd, the rest of us are the sheep. There are no co-shepherds, no intermediates between Christ and us. We are to follow Christ and Him alone. We are to learn from Him and love others equally.

There is nothing wrong with going to church, but don’t put your eyes on it and the leaders therein. Keep your focus on Christ. Whether you go to church or don’t go to church, Christ is the one we look to and serve. Don’t worry so much about going to church, but rather be the Church. It is not a building we go to, but a people who love and follow Christ.

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Although my wife and I no longer attend a traditional church, when I used to say I “go to church”, what exactly was it that I meant.

When we mention church today, most people think of an organized religious service that takes place on a certain day, at a certain time, in a set place. This is further divided into various denominations or independent organizations. In this sense, church is a man-made religion made up of various types of organized services, various interpretations of the Bible, and man-made doctrines that we are expected to follow and obey if we are to be ‘good’ Christians.

Is the modern-day church what God intended church to be? Unfortunately it is not. When we have so many different denominations and so much arguing over whose doctrine is correct, which Bible version is the right one, how we should dress, what rules to follow, what we should do, what we should not do etc. Can this be what God intended? Not when we read that ‘they will know us by the love we have for one another’. Chip Brogden, in his book ‘The Church in the Wilderness’ stated that it was said of the early disciples…. people could look at the disciples of Jesus and would notice that they had been with Jesus. Now we look at religious folk dressed up and going out to eat lunch on Sunday and all we can say of them is that they have been to church.

The true meaning of the Church is….people, each believer in Christ who has accepted the free gift of salvation by faith through His grace. No matter which organized religious building you attend or don’t attend, if you are a believer you are part of the Church.

When I said I go to church, I mean I go to a building where other believers gather for a Christian meeting. I look at it as a Christian social event, and what better place to be than with other believers. Going to church is not going to God’s house. God, through the Holy Spirit, lives in each of His followers. We are His house.

When I went to church, I didn’t necessarily go for fellowship. Fellowship is something that takes place on a personal basis in smaller groups of people. This can happen anytime through the week, whether it is in a building, a house, a park, or anywhere that 2 or 3 or more believers come together and talk, discuss their faith, pray, spend time together getting to know one another. This can’t take place in a Sunday morning church setting when we gather with hundreds or thousands of people for a set program and one person doing all the talking.

When I went to church, I enjoyed hearing a message that was relevant for today. A message that the speaker had spent some time in prayer and fellowship with God to get. We need to realize that we heard a brother or sister speaking their opinion or interpretation of the message. There is nothing wrong with listening to others who are truly trying to speak God’s truth, but let’s not put our focus on them. We are to put our focus on the Holy Spirit, who is our guide and teacher of all truth. It seems a lot of us Christians today are to lazy to spend time in prayer, meditation and fellowship with God, listening for the voice and leading of the Spirit. We would rather go listen to someone else give us what they have learned and then get on with our day. We need to listen to the Holy Spirit and let Him lead us and teach us, and not go only by what someone else says.

When I went to church, I didn’t go specifically to get prayed for, or to worship God. That happens at church services, but to think that you have to be in church for it to happen is a mistake. Prayer, worship and fellowship all happen anytime, anywhere. We don’t have to wait until Sunday to get prayed for or to worship God. We do this daily, 24/7.

When I went to church and gave money, it wasn’t giving to God. All the money we have is God’s money and we are to be good stewards of His money every day. We should be ready to give of the money we have anytime, anywhere and to anyone that God leads us to give. If I gave at church, it was to support the organization. It helped pay the pastor’s salary, the mortgage on the building, the utilities and some of the outreach programs that were done.

So it is a bad thing to go to church? Of course not. What is better than spending time with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Of course I truthfully think there are better ways to do this than sitting in a service looking at the back of someone’s head and listening to someone else do all the talking.

The main point is to realize that church is not the end goal, it is not where we go to meet God or to do all our learning. We don’t go to church to wait on God to show up. He is always with us. We can stay away from the organized religious service and yet be in as close of fellowship with our Father as anyone else.

Our fellowship with God depends on our daily walk with Him. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and God is within us. If we aren’t having prayer, praise, worship and fellowship with God on a daily basis, then going to a church building on Sunday isn’t going to make it any better.

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As I become more inclined to follow my feeling that the church of today is way off base of what God intended, the organized, man-made denomination, the ‘religious’ church, I continue to come across books and websites that confirm my thoughts.

Take for instance, the teaching of the church on tithing. We are constantly told we need to give our 10% to the church or we are robbing God. Wait a minute, wasn’t that in the Old Testament? Didn’t Jesus come to fulfill the law and provide grace for us? Follow the following links and read a different thought on tithing:
http://freebelievers.com/article/tithing-is-not-a-christian-doctrine
and
http://freebelievers.com/article/rethinking-the-tithe

Am I saying it is wrong to tithe? No. If you attend an organized church and you feel they are doing what God wants for them, yes, support it. But don’t feel you ‘have’ to tithe. Don’t let a pastor guilt you into giving because he uses some Old Testament verse to tell you that you’re robbing from God. Give because you love God and want to give. Give 1%, 5%, 10%, 50%, whatever you determine in your heart to give. We are free to give the amount we determine and are no longer under law and required to tithe.

nomoretithe

Why get so caught up on being in a building each week, listening to one man (or woman) telling us what God is saying or what the Bible says. Doesn’t God’s word say that we now have the Holy Spirit to teach us?

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, and I do believe we do not have to attend any organized church. Some will say the Bible says don’t forsake the assembling of yourselves together. That is true, but it does not say you have to assemble together anywhere in particular. Meet up with other believers in a restaurant, or invite them to your home for a meal and a time of fellowship. That is what I feel the Bible is talking about. Check this article to see what I mean:
http://freebelievers.com/article/the-flabby-body-of-christ-why-is-church-so-dull

In our day and age, it is time to get over the 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 meeting place 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 need to build our fellowship with God and with one another. This doesn’t need to be done in a building with an organized service, but in spending time with our brothers and sisters in Christ, helping one another and talking about God and His love for us. Others should be able to know that we are Christians because of the love we have for one another.

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