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by Jim Gordon

So often when I mention that my wife and I have left the organized church, people assume something happened to hurt us or make us mad or we were abused in some way. Just to be clear on this subject neither one of us have ever been abused or hurt by the church. Neither one of us are mad about some event or some person at church. I know there are people who have had bad experiences which sometimes includes abuse and I think that is terrible. Fortunately for us that is not the case.

Today we seem to hear much about sexual abuse and the catholic church although this can happen in any church system. We hear of people in power within the system taking advantage of their members for various reasons. Fortunately this is not the norm in most churches but is a real and terrible thing that happens way to often.

I actually had some very good times while within the church system. I made many good friends, learned about God and his love for me and had many fun and enjoyable experiences with the people who were part of the church system.

It is certainly not out of abuse or being hurt that my wife and I decided to leave the system. After nearly sixty years in the organization and after the last fifteen of those years feeling that something is not right with the system, we made the decision to leave and follow Christ outside the walls of religion. To be clear, this was our decision and we certainly do not expect everyone to agree or do the same thing. Many people are part of the organized church who truly love God and want to serve Him. After all, the religious system we know as church is all we know.

We believe the Church is a community of people and not a building nor a service held one day each week with paid professionals leading the service. We believe the Church is each of us who follow Christ and see him as the head. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit and each of us are equally functioning members making up his body.

WhatisChurch

We believe forsaking not the assembling of yourselves means we need one another. We live each day having fellowship with those God brings our way no matter where it happens. We never truly found real fellowship when we sat in an organized service for an hour looking at the back of the head of the person in front of us. We believe true fellowship is not just sitting together with other people in a room but it is daily loving, encouraging and praying for one another and meeting the needs of those we are able to help.

The temple in the Old Testament was only a shadow of what was to come in the New Testament. God now lives in us as his temple and he is our leader rather than another human being we call pastor. The only mediator between God and man was Jesus. He repaired the separation between God and man and we now have direct access to the Father without anyone in between. There is no hierarchy in the Church. Each of us are equally important parts of the body and able to teach, encourage, build up and pray for one another. It is truly a priesthood of all believers and not a one person show. Those with specific gifts for helping the Church are not better or more spiritual than the rest. They are brothers and sisters who walk along beside those who need encouragement. They are those who have learned a spiritual lesson and are there to help those who are still learning. They are servants among the body of Christ who are there to help and encourage.

So when I say that we have left the church it is only the building and organization I am talking about. We left not because we were mad, hurt or abused. We left because we believe the religious system most people call church is flawed and far from what God is building. He is building a group of people who will daily follow Him outside the walls of religion and organizations of men, loving God with all their heart, soul, strength and mind, loving their neighbor and accepting all they meet along the way.

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I have mentioned this in a previous article, and want to again make clear that I am not a teacher. The postings on this site are from a person who certainly has a lot to learn.

My wife and I feel the same on this subject, and as imperfect people who have been made holy and righteous through God’s grace, it is always good to remind ourselves and those who read these articles, that what is written is coming from someone who is on a daily path with our Father, yet constantly learning.

I don’t think any of us come to a point of knowing it all and being completely correct in our knowledge of God. Each of our lives are a daily process, sometimes one step forward and two steps back, but each and every step ordered by our Father.

After my wife and I left the institutional church, I began to see some similar divisions outside the walls as much as inside the walls. We found that even though we were outside the walls of a church, our minds still had many walls up. It was fairly easy to leave the walls of a church, but the walls that had been built up in our minds are much harder to leave.

I have found that each of us have our own views on doctrine and interpretations of the bible. I personally feel this just shows our uniqueness and individuality.

Denominations and Separation

In the organized church there are many denominations and sects. I always saw this as a great division in the body of Christ. Yet outside of church, I have found much of the same. There are universal thinkers, preterist views, anabaptist views, trinitarianism, unitarianism, pre-millennial, post-millennial, there is a hell, there is not a hell….on and on it goes and each think they are right and others have missed the truth.

There is nothing wrong with having different views and interpretations. God has designed us as unique people and He leads and guides us according to that uniqueness. The problem is how we think in our mind according to our interpretations and views.

As I mentioned before, I felt a great separation in the organized church due to so many separate churches, each based on their style of doctrine and interpretation. I grew up in the methodist church and never considered going to a different denomination. I thought I had the best doctrine and interpretation of the bible and figured all the other churches were a little off base. Fortunately, neither I nor my wife think that way anymore.

But I am finding that with all the different views outside of church, we can get into the same thought process.

The big difference, at least the way I see it, is in our minds. It is our attitude and the way we think that either separates us or opens up the path to fellowship.

When we think that our way is right, we tend to associate with others who are of the same views. We join together with those of like-doctrine. Just the same as those in church meet each week with others who deem themselves methodists or baptists or lutheran and so on, when we think our way is right and only want to meet with those who feel the same, we again divide the body of Christ.

mine is rightEven when we decide to fellowship with those outside our way of thinking, if we go into it with the thought that we are right and they are wrong, and have the intent to meet with them only to prove our way is right, we still cause division.

We are all Unique

It is time we realize that each of us are unique individuals, created by the Father and guided by the Holy Spirit in that uniqueness. We need to accept that we do not have all the answers, we may be right or we may be wrong. Each of us will change over the years as God leads us along and the Spirit reveals more truth to us.

We should be loving and accepting of everyone we meet, and be open to fellowship with any of our brothers and sisters in Christ, without any thought or intention of proving our way as the only way. There is nothing wrong with discussing our views, and we certainly can learn from others as we listen to them, but we need to keep it at discussing and listening and not trying to prove our point and convert people to our way of thinking.

It is so aggravating to me to see people get so defensive and argue over who is right. Especially on social media where other people can see that divisiveness (tending to cause disagreement or hostility between people) and hard feelings it can cause. My first thought when I read some of these discussions is, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another”. Yet, we sometimes do not seem very loving toward our brothers and sisters.

Even though we are outside the walls of organized religion, I have to say there are many who are still part of the traditional church system who love God and have very open minds to accepting others and realizing their way is not the only true way.

It is obvious that after leaving the walls of traditional church and living free from organized religion, the walls in our minds are still a thing to be dealt with and torn down.

Time of Change

Our walk is a daily process. It is a constantly changing, learning process where our interpretations and views change over time as the Spirit sheds light on more truth. We need to keep in mind that we do not have it all figured out and we are not the only ones who are right. We may be right for the place on the path we are currently, but as we move forward, we may begin to see things differently.

The way my wife and I see it, the best thing is to keep an open mind, listen for the guidance of the Spirit constantly, love those you come in contact with each day and enjoy fellowship with anyone the Father places in your life, whether it is a short period of time or a lifetime.

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I’ve read many articles about church abuse. Seems many Christians have been through bad times in the organized church and they have become angry and frustrated with the system. Certainly understandable.

For me, I can’t say I went through anything I would call abuse in the system. I grew up in church and was very active over the years. I truly felt I was doing what was pleasing to God and I earnestly was trying to learn and do what He would want me to do.

churchasbusescandal

So when I hear all the abuse stories and all the troubling times in organized religion, I don’t always understand. I know there are many people in the modern, organized church that truly love God and are trying to please him. I also realize there are many people who were unduly abused in various ways during their church life, and that is very sad.

For me, after several years of being unsatisfied with the system and feeling there certainly had to be more to it than what I had been part of, I dropped out of traditional church. Obviously this has to be something you feel is right for you, and I don’t think it is a good thing to tell people they should do the same. This is a choice that each believer has to make for themselves. I came to this conclusion after many years of seeing things, questioning things, reading things and just being completely frustrated with the system of organized religion.

I have no regrets in leaving, although I have no regrets for being a part of it for so many years either. I did learn a lot and made a lot of good friends. Of course because of the years involved, there are many beliefs and ideas I need to detox from now.

For now, feeling the system is wrong, I have decided to walk with God outside the walls of the organized church. Not that anyone is intentionally trying to do what is wrong but the whole modern-day organized church is off base. Granted, the system is the only thing we know. It’s been this way for years and we grew up with it and thought it was the way it should be.

We have it engrained in us that to assemble ourselves together is to go to church on Sunday morning and sit through a scheduled program. No where does scripture tell us that assembling together has to be done in a particular way, at a special time or in a set place.

We are told that the pastor is the spiritual head and he is who we learn from and come under authority and guidance. Of course God tells us that Jesus is the head of the church, which is his body, and the Holy Spirit is our teacher and we need no one to teach us other than him.

We are taught that we are saved by grace, but we need to live by the law to be pleasing to God. Reading through Paul’s teachings, it is easy to see that we live by grace, and trying to live under law is a curse (Galatians 3:10-13). Jesus fulfilled the Old Covenant and the Law for us because we couldn’t. Jesus did the work, Jesus died and ended the Old Covenant. Upon his resurrection, the New Covenant began and we now live by grace. The New Covenant commands are to love God with all our heart and love others.

The Law was a tutor to show us that we were completely incapable of keeping the law and living a perfect life. Only Jesus was able to live a perfect life. For us Christians, a tutor is no longer needed because we have come to Christ and depend on his work and grace.

We are taught that the Bible is the true, living, inerrant word of God. John 1:1 tells us that in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. To me that says that Jesus is the living Word. The Bible is the inspired words of God, but we are not to look to the Bible as the all-powerful, inerrant source of what God has to say. We should look to Jesus who is our all in all, our very life.

We are taught to tithe, although that is not taught under the New Covenant. Giving as we see a need and as we feel lead is now done out of love, not tithing to the church as a requirement. I personally feel the church today is more of a big business than it is a religious organization. Tithing is pushed because the organization needs to have the bills and the salaries paid.

We are told we are poor sinners saved by grace and that we are weak, unrighteous worms who are unworthy of God’s love. Now apart from God, we are nothing. We can’t live a perfect life and we were not worthy to be in God’s presence. BUT, because of Christ and the work he has done, we were given the gift of righteousness. Apart from Christ, yes, we were poor sinners, but through Christ the sin nature was crucified and we were raised up with him as new creatures. We are now the house of God, and we are holy and righteous in his sight because of Christ.

People want to put themselves under the authority of a pastor or the elders of the church, but God says we are all kings and priests and Jesus is the head. We all have something to say when we come together to build one another up. There are no levels of authority among believers. We are all equal parts of his body and have equal parts to play in encouraging and building one another up.

I think an important fact for us to remember today is that no matter if you are ‘in church’ or outside the walls, we should be looking to each other in love and not fight and argue amongst ourselves. Whether you are going to church, you are going for the Lord, or if you don’t go to church, you are doing so for the Lord. Accept each other as brothers and sisters in Christ, pray for one another, encourage one another, and stop looking down on people who see things differently than you.

Even those outside of Christianity need our love, not our condemnation. Jesus loved those who the ‘religious leaders’ of his day didn’t want to have association. We want our Christian church, Christian schools, Christian dating sites, Christian this, Christian that, whatever we can do to be separate and apart from the non-Christians, yet we were told to go into all the world. That certainly doesn’t mean we are to act like the world, but we do need to love all those that are around us.

LovelikeJesus

I truly feel that being a person in Christ is a daily lifestyle. Being the church is a 24/7 way of life, not a Sunday only thing. God said that He is building His church and that He no longer lives in buildings made with hands. We are the church, we are God’s house. We are the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are the body of Christ. We function together as equal parts of the body under the headship of Jesus. We may be the only Jesus a lot of people will ever know.

We need to adjust our way of thinking and realize that church and Christianity are not a religion. It is a lifestyle we live day by day. Jesus is our life, it should be no longer us trying and doing, but resting in what Christ has done for us. We are in Christ and it is him living in us day by day that makes the difference.

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My Journey

Welcome. My blog is a place where readers will find writings of personal experiences, thoughts, and the peace that the Lord provides throughout my walk. I intend to bring inspiration and insight, as well as providing a very personal and transparent view into my life, in order to help others see their own lives in a different perspective. I strongly believe that we all need a different view at times, in order for our own personal growth to take place.

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