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Posts Tagged ‘ekklesia’

Recently my wife and I were talking about some of our past church experiences. We also talked about some of our friends and some of the articles we have read online and the experiences others have had in the organized church.

We talked about how it seems many people mentioned being hurt or abused in the system. It is so sad that this happens in an organization that is supposed to represent the love of God. Yet many times people are abused and hurt and taken advantage of in the church.

church attendance

For myself and my wife our experience was pretty basic. We grew up attending a traditional denominational church every Sunday thinking that was the way God intended. We went to Sunday School and Junior church when we were young, then to regular service as we got older. We had friends we looked forward to seeing and we attended activities outside the Sunday morning service.

Through all the years we were involved neither of us were ever abused or hurt. We know things were not perfect yet there was never a reason for us to leave the church due to someone treating us bad or some event happening that made us mad.

That is why at this point in our lives we feel our choice to leave the organized church two years ago was because the Spirit has guided us along this path. We have come to feel the organized church is not what God intended when he said he would build his Church.

We were not chased away, we did not get hurt, abused or feel the need to get away. We were not over worked in the system or told to leave for any reason.

We came to a point where we were so unsatisfied with the same planned out service every week. We were seeing so much division within Christianity with all the denominations and interpretations. We saw judgment and condemnation placed on people rather than love and acceptance.

We know that christians are to be known for their love for one another, yet we saw so much arguing, fighting and disagreeing.

We read that when you come together each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. Yet each week one person got up and did all the talking while all the rest of us sat quietly looking at the back of the head of the person in front of us.

We read that we are now the temple of the Holy Spirit who lives within us, so why did people call a building the house of God? The Spirit was given on the day of Pentecost when the Spirit fell upon those gathered together. So why do people tell us to come to church because God was going to show up and the Spirit was going to fall upon the place.

We finally came to the conclusion that the organized church, even though many good things happen there and there are many people there who truly love God, was not what God intended.

people are the church

God now lives within us. The Holy Spirit has come upon us and we are his temple. We go about each and every day with the Spirit of God within us and we do not have to wait for a specific day in a specific building with one person doing all the talking.

Church is a people who show the love of God to all people, all nationalities, all faiths, all religions, atheists, gay, straight, black, white and any other label we can think of to put on people.

Church is us. It is a community of people living in the love and power of the Spirit serving one another and encouraging one another.

In the eyes of God there is no denominations, no buildings, no office of spiritual leader, there is neither jew nor gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

No, we were not hurt or abused. We were not upset or mad at the pastor or anyone in the church system. We just came to the conclusion that there is a better way. God is building his Church and it is us, not a building or an organization. It is a living organism made up of his people with the Spirit living within them.

We decided that going to a building once a week was no longer for us. The idea of separating ourselves from other denominations and from those who do not attend a church or those who do not accept God was not the way we wanted to continue.

Living each day as part of the body of Christ with the Spirit leading and teaching us, accepting all people and letting the love of God flow out to others makes more sense to us rather than sitting in a building with like-minded people and then going our separate ways until the next week.

We certainly do not tell others to do as we do. Each of us has to follow the leading of the Spirit and do what we feel is right. There are many people within the organized church who love God and seek to do what is right. Yet for us we are happy to be outside the walls of religion living each and every day as equally functioning parts of the body with Jesus as the head.

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

left-the-building

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 they are, only in a different way. We have not left the Church (ekklesia) but have left the building (church).

Having left the church because I felt the system was not the way God intended, I have never left the true Church that is made up of us who are believers. Jesus is building His Church out of ‘living stones’.

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 priests and functioning parts of the body, and we are all needed and important. Of course only Jesus is the head, not a pastor.

We need to remember that rather than let a feeling of ‘us vs them’ mentality get a hold on us, those of us who used to be part of the institutional church also need to keep in mind that those who attend church usually 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.

Body of Christ

For those still attending, most do not think about how the system is wrong and that it 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.

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 really should not have much of 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’s 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 the arguing, fighting and disagreeing that they are so familiar with in their daily lives.

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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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