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Posts Tagged ‘denomination’

Love One Another

Whether you are part of an organized religious organization, or what we today call church, or if you are not part of one, we as followers of Christ are the Church.

We should be able to get past our differences in doctrine and interpretation, get past what church we attend or if we attend at all, and focus on our love for God and our love for one another.

We obviously aren’t going to come in contact with every person in the world, but we are to be ready each day to allow the Spirit of Christ, which is within us, to reach out to those individuals we come in contact with each day.

All our organized services and plans to get people in to a service so the pastor can get the good word out will never make a huge difference. It is our job to go out into the world and live a life of love. Again, that doesn’t mean all of us has to become a missionary and go to some far off land. The people we come in contact with each day during our regular routine are the people we need to be showing love.

This is the way we will make a difference in our world, when non-believers see the love Christians have for each other and for God.

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When it comes to Christianity, with all its different denominations, interpretations, different versions of the Bible, it seems there are always times when we run into conflict.

Each of us as brothers or sisters in Christ seem to want it our way. Our ‘church’, our interpretation, our version of the Bible. We each feel that we are right and feel the need to distance ourselves from those who feel differently.

Have you noticed how religion just wants to set the rules so each of us know what it takes to be a ‘good’ Christian? Do this, don’t do that, stay away from this and make sure you participate in that. Be in every service and be active with this group or that group. If you aren’t reading a particular version of the Bible, you are just wasting your time, if you aren’t part of a ‘church’ you must be backslidden, at least that’s the way some fellow Christians make you feel. Rules, rules, rules.

Maybe it’s time to stop arguing over versions, interpretations, church attendance and such and start focusing on Christ, who is to be our first love. If we can focus on Him and loving others, we should be able to agree to disagree on other topics.

When we find common ground in our faith in Christ, when we love God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, we should be able to look past the minor differences we have in our various denominations, Bible versions and interpretations.

Let’s stop fighting against each other and begin to love one another as Christ loves us. Don’t let the minor differences come between the love we can have for one another and the things we can share and learn through fellowship with our brothers and sisters in 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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Each time election time comes around, I get aggravated seeing churches endorse candidates and allow politicians to come to their service and talk or be recognized. This is just another sign to me that the modern-day Christian church is off base and involved in things they shouldn’t be.

I’m not saying we as individuals shouldn’t be informed and that we shouldn’t vote. Each person should take the time to know what the candidates stand for, and then get out and vote for the ones they feel would do the best job. That doesn’t mean churches need to be the ones to endorse candidates and issues.

The Church (“Church” meaning each individual believer) is here to love one another and show the love of God to all we come in contact with. The church (church: organized religion/building) is just another big business today. Its time the church stops allowing politicians to come in and be recognized as another way to get their name in front of voters. The church needs to stop being just another big corporation in America, and time for the “Church” to start being what God intended.

Denominations and organized religion is NOT what God intended. Fellowship among believers, love for God and for one another is what we need more of today.

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