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By Jim Gordon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Church1a

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

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

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

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

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

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by Jim Gordon

Why do we christian people feel the need to point out what we think are sinful behaviors of others? Why do we seem to think certain things are more sinful than others, if sinful at all.

Often times what we consider to be sinful boils down to wrong interpretation of scripture. Many times we do not dig into scripture to find out for ourselves what it is actually saying. We have heard certain things preached all our lives and figure that is just the way it is.

TheNakedJesus

I am sure we are all the same when it comes to having someone tell us they think we are sinning. Most of the time it is not even done in love. You can feel the judgment and condemnation coming from the other person. Whether it is actually a sin or not is not the issue to them, it is that they think it is, they do not like it and they are sure to point out to you what they think.

Jesus told us as his followers we are to love God and love others. He also said that the Holy Spirit would do the convicting and disciplining when and where needed. I do agree that sometimes the Spirit will work through us to bring to light something in the life of another that they need to deal with. I do not think in those few cases it will be done in a judgmental or condemning way.

I personally feel that we are to live our lives following the Spirit and being open to his leading and teaching for ourselves. After all, the Spirit of Christ lives within us and he will teach us and guide us in our walk with him. We are to forget about judgment and condemnation of others and leave the job of changing others to the Spirit.

We are to love God and love our neighbor, which is all our fellow human beings. We may not always agree with them, we may not always like what they do or how they do it, but we should always be kind and respectful even in the differences. To convict others of sin is beyond the calling Jesus gave to us. Live from love and let the Spirit work in the lives of others.

Also check out this article of similar topic by John Casimir O’Keefe:
http://www.patheos.com/blogs/thenakedjesus/2016/08/why-we-shouldnt-judge-others/

(Photo used by Permission from The Naked Jesus by John Casimir O’Keefe @johncasimirokeefe)

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by Jim Gordon

Growing up in christianity, I found myself always wearing a mask when I went to church. I always wore a smile on my face and I always acted like everything was good. When people would ask me how I was doing I would always say ‘I’m doing great’.

WearingMasks

The problem was I did not always feel like smiling. I was not always doing great.

So often in our christian walk we get the idea that we cannot be ourselves. We have to always be upbeat and positive and we cannot let people see we are human and have bad days.

I am not sure where that whole idea came from, but it is not wrong for our human emotions be seen. We are not always going to be happy or in a good mood, and there will be times when we are mad, aggravated or depressed. That is just being a normal human being.

I think we need to come to the point where we are not afraid to be the real us. We need to take off the mask and just be human.

That certainly does not mean we go around grumbling and complaining to everyone we meet all the time. We do not yell and take our frustrations out on everyone every time we see them. Yet we should not hide who we really are or how we really feel.

When we have those days of frustration and depression, it is then our brothers and sisters and those who care about us can be a help and encouragement and can lift us up.

As followers of Christ we have a deep-down sense of spiritual peace and joy that passes comprehension. That does not mean there are times when our humanity is just not in a good mood.

PeacethatPassesUnderstanding

That is why we need one another, why we need fellow believers and friends who care about us. None of us are always in a good mood. When we are down, our friends can help lift us up. When they are down, we can help lift them up.

Friendship, whether it is between fellow believers or people who see things completely opposite, is important to our well-being.

Being friends does not have to be with people of the same faith or with similar views. Jesus said to love God and love your neighbor. Our neighbor, whether a fellow believer or not, can be a good friend when we look past the differences and love one another.

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Christianity can mean a couple different things and it depends on what meaning we are using as to how I feel about it.

If, when talking about being a Christian, we mean we are following Christ, acting like Christ and living like Christ, I am all for being called a Christian.

Religions

Usually these days the word Christian means more about the religion of Christianity. Just like Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Baha’i, Shinto, Taoism and a host of others, Christianity is a religion controlled by men. It is divided up into many various denominations, doctrines and biblical interpretations. Contrary to popular belief Jesus did not start the Christian religion.

Here in the United States we are so proud to say that America is a Christian nation. Unfortunately, I have to disagree with that idea. America is a country made up of many religions and beliefs. The good thing in this country is that we are not forced to be a part of any religion or belief. We have many freedoms that are not found in other places and I am thankful for that fact. We are free to choose what we want to believe, who we want to follow and we have the right to express that without fear of punishment.

Following Christ is not about a religion. I actually think it is better sometimes not to use the word Christian because of all the religious thoughts and ideas it brings up. Religion is a man-made, organized system that divides more than anything. We separate into groups that meet in buildings on set days and at set times saying we welcome anyone, yet only want those who feel the same way we do.

It bothers me to see so many who profess to be Christians, those who believe in God and Jesus and spreading His love to others, who argue and fight with those who think differently. We are supposed to be known for our love for others and love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Still, it seems a lot of Christians are more interested in defending their personal views and thoughts, getting mad and arguing amongst themselves while those outside the faith are looking at them and wondering why they need to have Christ in their lives.

Now, talking about Christianity in the sense that we are following Christ, living like Him and treating others like Jesus treated people, this is an entirely different thing. As mentioned in Acts 11:26, the disciples were first called Christians by the people of Antioch because they saw the disciples acting so much like Christ. To me, this is the true meaning of a Christian.

BeLikeJesus

True Christianity is a community of people who act like Christ and let him love through them. It is a daily life and is not separated into normal living and religious living. It is not specifically following set doctrines or following rules of do’s and don’ts. It is not meeting in a building once a week listening to one person talk, singing a few songs, shaking hands and going home. It is not a system of leaders who are on a higher level than others. Those who have gifts of leadership lead by example, lead as equals, and lead by a servant spirit to encourage and build up their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. They are not to lead by power or a position of authority.

True Christianity is a daily life following the leading of the Spirit. It is meeting with those we come in contact with along our daily routine and showing the love of Christ. It is eating together, laughing and crying together, accepting one another, talking and discussing our thoughts and views.

As followers of Christ, we are to love others, accept others, and treat others with compassion, respect and love. We do not have to agree with everyone, just accept them. We can agree to disagree and love people just as they are. Everyone does not have to be just like us and they do not have to believe like us. They should be able to be themselves and we as Christ followers should be OK with it.

It is time to stop being a Christian in the sense of religion and focus on Jesus and let Him live through us. After all, we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, we have the mind of Christ, God lives within us. There is no reason why we cannot love and accept others just like Christ loves and accepts everyone.

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When we think about Jesus, we automatically think of Christianity. Although the two are completely different.

Jesus didn’t come to start Christianity. Jesus was not a Christian. We are missing the whole point when we focus on religion rather than the real reason Jesus came to live among us. He came to show us the Father and the love He has for each and every one of us, no matter what we call ourselves or what group we belong too. He even loves those who don’t think he exists.

According to Wikipedia it is stated that according to some estimates, there are roughly 4,200 religions in the world. Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Jewish, Christianity and every other religion are all actually related. They are all human based ways of trying to please the God (or gods) they believe in and serve.

In regard to just Christian denominations, World Christian Encyclopedia says that world Christianity consists of 6 major ecclesiastical-cultural blocs, divided into 300 major ecclesiastical traditions, composed of over 33,000 distinct denominations in 238 countries. It certainly can’t be stated that people are not interested in some type of higher power.

We want to argue over religion and who is right, who is wrong. All the different religions of the world can’t agree on who we believe in or what is right. We even break it down more and argue within Christianity with all the different denominations, as we consider ourselves Catholic, or Methodist, or Lutheran, Presbyterian or part of the thousand other groups. We argue over whose interpretation is right and really don’t want to associate with those who feel differently.

Needless to say, we all have our interpretations, thoughts and ideas, but those just make us unique individuals. They were not intended to cause separations and divisions among us. We should be able to be ourselves and yet love and accept those who are different from us.

If we could get past the religious part of our beliefs and live in the freedom God provided, things would go much better. Rather than defend our denominational interpretations and our personal ideas, if we would love and accept others with the love of Christ, people would be more open to hear about our Father.

Christ-Christians

We are normally busy pointing out the mistakes of others, even our brothers and sisters in Christ who have a different view, and condemning those who we consider sinners. When we do so, the love Jesus told us to show everyone seems to get missed. I personally don’t think it is our job to convict people of their sins. Most people know their shortcomings already, and the Holy Spirit will convict the worldly of their sins, drawing them to repentance.

Jesus told us to love God and love others…period. When we focus on the gospels and the life of Jesus and realize that he didn’t condemn and point out the sins and mistakes of people, we can see a distinct difference from the way we act today. He only had an issue with the religious leaders who thought they were better than everyone else because of their works.

When it comes to saying I am a Christian, I am hesitant anymore because of the meaning it receives from most people. If being a Christian means a follower of Christ, someone who wants to be like Christ, and show the love of God to everyone, then I am for it. But if being a Christian is the typical church going, law following, condemning others way of life, I am done with that. In that sense, Christianity is not the answer, nor is any other man-made religion.

Jesus is not into religion. Jesus came to show the love of God to every human being no matter who they are or what they believe. Jesus crosses the barriers of religion and loves everyone. In the world today, we are the Jesus people see, and we should be ready to show the love and acceptance that he showed to everyone we meet.

You may be interested in reading an article on the same topic by my friend Glenn Hager. Read it here: http://www.glennhager.com/2013/05/17/did-jesus-start-a-religion/

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Matthew 23:10 – Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ….

Do you notice how we christians get so caught up on which pastor, evangelist or leader becomes our focal point? We listen to this one, or that one, read books from this guy, or listen to tapes by that woman. We attend a fellowship because we like the pastor, or we will drive miles to listen to a popular TV or radio evangelist. But wait a minute, doesn’t God’s word say that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, all fellow-servants. We are not to be called leaders, no one is higher up than anyone else. We don’t need anyone to teach us because we have the Spirit of Christ within us, the true living Word lives in each of us (1 John 2:27). In Christ, we are all His servants, no one should be looked up to or revered more than anyone else. True, we can learn from one another by the way Christ works in each of our lives, but we should stop putting our hope in other people and start listening to the Holy Spirit that is within us for truth and guidance.

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Christianity can mean a couple different things, and it depends on what meaning we are using as to how I feel about it.

If, when talking about being a Christian, we mean we are following Christ, acting like Christ and living like Christ, I am all in for being a Christian.

Usually these days when being a Christian is mentioned, it’s more about the religion of Christianity. Just like Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Baha’i, Shinto, Taoism and a host of others, Christianity is a religion made up by men, and it is divided up into many various denominations. Contrary to popular belief, Jesus did not start the Christian religion.

Here in the United States we are so proud to say that America is a Christian nation. Unfortunately, I have to disagree with that idea. America is a country made up of many religions and beliefs. Fortunately in this country we are not forced to be a part of any religion or belief. We have many freedoms that are not found in other places, and I am thankful for that fact. We are free to choose what we want to believe, who we want to follow and we have the right to express that without fear of punishment.

Following Christ is not about a religion. I actually think it is better sometimes not to even use the word Christian because of all the religious thoughts and ideas it brings up. Religion is a man-made, organized system that divides more than anything. We separate into groups that meet in buildings on set days and at set times, saying we welcome anyone, yet only want those who feel the same way we do in beliefs and interpretations.

It bothers me to see so many who profess to be Christians, those who believe in God and Jesus and spreading His love to others, who argue and fight with those who think differently. We are supposed to be known for our love for others and love for our brothers and sisters in Christ. Still, it seems a lot of Christians are more interested in defending their personal views and thoughts, getting mad and arguing amongst themselves while those outside of faith in Christ are looking at them and wondering why they need to have Christ in their lives.

Now, talking about Christianity in the sense that we are following Christ, living like Him and treating others like Jesus treated people, this is an entirely different thing. As mentioned in Acts 11:26, the disciples were first called Christians by the people of Antioch, because they saw the disciples acting so much like Christ. To me, this is the true meaning of a Christian.

True Christianity is a community of people who act like Christ and let him love through them. It is a daily life-style and is not separated into normal living and religious living. It is not specifically following set doctrines, or following rules of do’s and don’ts.  It is not meeting in a building once a week listening to one person talk, singing a few songs, shaking hands and going home. It is not a system of leaders who are on a higher level than others. It is daily life, following the leading of the Spirit, meeting with those we come in contact with along our daily routine, showing Christ’s love, eating together, laughing and crying together, accepting one another, talking and discussing our thoughts and views. Those who have gifts of leadership lead by example, lead as equals, and lead by a servant spirit to encourage and build up their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.

As followers of Christ, we are to love others, accept others, and treat others with compassion, respect and love. We do not have to agree with everyone, just accept them. We can agree to disagree and love people just as they are. Everyone does not have to be just like us and they do not have to believe like us. They should be able to be themselves and we as Christ followers should be OK with it.

It’s time to stop being a Christian in the sense of religion, and focus on Jesus and let Him live through us. After all, we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit, we have the mind of Christ, God lives within us. There is no reason why we cannot love and accept others just like Christ loves and accepts everyone.

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