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Posts Tagged ‘worship’

By Mike Edwards

I don’t wish to be critical of those who feel a need to praise/thank/worship God frequently. I do want to encourage those who may feel as I do. I am extremely grateful for the relationship I have with my Creator, but the emphasis on we are obligated to constantly tell God how great they are doesn’t seem natural or relational. I am convinced God doesn’t like to appear egotistical.

So how can we know what God really wants from us? 

It is only intuitive to think a Creator would love us how we were seemingly created to love each other, or how we wished to be loved by our parents. And only a perfect, loving God is worth believing in. We only know how to talk about perfect Godly love by comparing to perfect, human love. The Bible even suggests perfect human love and God’s love are the same: “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly Parent is perfect” (Mt. 5:48). “Follow God’s example…” (Eph. 5:1). We don’t always know what perfect love entails but we know the question we ought to ask ourselves – am I loving others perfectly aka am I loving others like our Creator loves.

How parents desire love surely compares to how God seeks loves!

You may not be a parent, but all have a sense of true love because they had parents that were either loving or we wished they were. Genuine parent love must be similar to Godly parenting love. Personally, I don’t seek or desired to be praised all the time by my children or others. An occasional attitude of gratitude does rock my boat, but I’m not convinced God is always seeking constant praise of how great God is.

Does singing how undeserving, filthy we are draw us closer to God? 

Okay, I am wretched sometimes but not all the time – depends on the day and who is in front of me. The biblical doctrine of original sin suggests we are condemned before birth because of Adam’s sin in the garden.  God can’t stand us unless God has their Jesus glasses on. I disagree. We are born in sin not with sin. See here.  God doesn’t view those who aren’t persuaded about God as filthy. My kids aren’t always buying what I am selling, but I am always aware of their good times. I prefer songs that reveal God’s acceptance and desire to help when I fail others. I want my kids to seek my help when needed. I am not so much worried if they are always praising me. 

How can we express thanks to God?

Each must decide how they think best to have a relationship with God. Don’t get me wrong. I love a good praise song about God from time to time. It helps reminds me how grateful I am for the positive influence that God has had in my life. But I don’t go around worrying that I have to thank God all the time. Sometimes, constant exhortations to praise God or tell God how great they are turns me off. Spontaneous thoughts or expressions, rather than feelings of obligations, seems more natural and relational-building with my Creator.

MikeEdwardsprofilepic125

Mike Edwards has been writing for Done with Religion for some time and has been a great addition to the site. Mike also has his own site where he writes that can be found at What God May Really Be Like  He can be contacted by email at: medwar2@gmail.com

 

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by Jordan Hathcock

“Give me that old-time religion. It is good enough for me. It was good for my old mother. And it’s good enough for me” – Old Time Religion by the Fisk Jubilee Singers

Religion (say it with me now). Dude, such a compacted noun! It’s been a platform for human interaction since the dawn of time. Oh the things that have been done with this word. You either love or hate religion. In many cases, people define religion as just one particular construct. I don’t think it’s that easy. When we look at the term, there are really three types of definitions: 1.) worship in a higher power, 2.) a belief system and 3.) secularism. All Peoples (Christian, Muslim, Jews, Atheists, Agnostics, American, Democrat, Republican, Black, White, LGBTQ, etc.) fit in these three definitions of religion in one form or another, in my opinion. Let’s look at these three definitions, shall we?

Worship In A Higher Power

Worship is a very interesting word when it comes to its usage of etymology. In a religious traditional sense, the ones who relate to God/gods through (not solely) sacred scripture (Torah, Christian bible, Quran, Vedas, etc.), the term worship boils down to various acts of homage. This can be demonstrated through “rites and rituals”: raising hands and singing through music, praying x amount of times per day, blood sacrifice, offerings, etc.

This is done in order that the God being worshiped will grant blessings, peace, bliss, etc. This is where it gets dicey. What if different religions don’t adhere to the same type of worship? History shows, the reaction to different worship in God leads to vicious boundary lines in which people who don’t tow them eventually get hurt or killed.

If we don’t conform we are doomed. This “controlling power” has been detrimental to our evolution as a species. All religions from every tradition have committed this monstrosity. “Might is right” or “survival of the fittest” (controlling power) is not how to live as a social structure. Jesus showed another way of doing worship: In spirit and in truth. His worship was internal to better understand the truth of reality–thus, bringing about outward action. It was also non-sacrificial. This way let’s go on becoming people who scapegoat our dark side onto the shedding of innocent blood. He said “deny yourself”, as in letting go of our ego (controlling power) which then will lead us to a healthy way of doing worship (which literally means “worth” or  “adore”) to God AND creation (I.e. existence).

In other words, love each other and help the helpless for f sake! So does all the human race “adore” the cosmos? I would say the majority do in one way or another, indeed. This is where the term religion still plays an important part of bringing about a peaceful existence in the universe, in my opinion. 

A Belief System

Putting trust in a way of seeing the world can be a very productive instrument within a community setting. As the individual seeks out paradigm shifts and inner contemplation, this will enable her/him to progress in a social setting. Education, careers, sports, church, family, etc. all are wrapped in how the individual trusts in what he or she is pursuing. No matter what discipline we take on, faith in “the process” takes shape and becomes our mode of being.

The downfall to this thinking is believing that our faith system trumps another’s faith system. This brings about endless contention that leads to factionalism. This is most destructive when a faith system becomes the ideology of a country. This is where lives are lost in the name of civil religion. We can’t take it if someone else’s beliefs are different from ours so we put up barriers and blockades: KEEP OUT! We will never learn from each other if we cast out one another for not thinking the same way. We need to learn to become a community that is united in its diversity if we ever want to thrive as a species.

Jesus hung out with the outcasts and the prestige of society. He spoke truth into both spectrums. His belief system offended and healed. But, no matter what, he didn’t let his beliefs get in the way of interaction with others who didn’t see eye to eye.Is it good to have a faith system? Yes! It’s whether or not we let our faith systems be measuring sticks to cast out others or let them be beacons to help others when they need it most.

Secularism

Where do we find the most interest/importance in? Sports? Family? Church? Career? Friends? Parting? Drugs? Sex? The list goes on and on in the world of secularism. What we put our interest in, really shapes our day-to-day experience with others. If we get caught up in an interest that leads to positive streams of progression and stability, that’s great! But even that can turn sour if that is only helping us and nobody else. Same is true for interests that don’t help oneself or others. This leads only to death and destruction. It takes great wisdom to find an interest that really provides growth and joy for all parties in one’s life. So, what interest is best?

In his book: Seculosity, author David Zahl put it this way:

“The objects of our seculosity—food, romance, education, children, technology, and so on—aren’t somehow bad. Quite the opposite—they are by and large great. It’s only when we lean on these things for enoughness, when we co-opt them for our self-justification or make them into arbiters of salvation itself, that they turn toxic…

Poking fun at our secular pieties, including my own, is part of disarming them.” Pg. xxiii introduction-Seculosity 

That’s it! Seeing our sense of humor as important helps us not to take our interests so seriously. We have to realize that we are all connected in one way or another. This isn’t only true for the human race but for all of Gods creation. To the smallest molecule to the humpback whale, what one does and invests in, has and effect on all. Does our interest bring life or death (dramatic I know)? It really does come down to that simple question. Or this one (better question): “For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?”

***

So, is religion evil? It can be. Is religion good? It can be. Regardless, we cannot deny that religion is ingrained in us as a species to better understand and create our reality. I think we can’t cast it out or just let it be that same old-time religion it always has been. We need to explore, progress, and hold onto whatever this religion “thing” has to offer. I think something new awaits! This is where healthy religion shines—where laughter springs out of the wallows and we become liberated from our driery selves…

Alan Watts said it best:

“A priest once quoted to me the Roman saying that a religion is dead when the priests laugh at each other across the altar. I always laugh at the altar, be it Christian, Hindu, or Buddhist, because real religion is the transformation of anxiety into laughter”. 

Jordan Hathcock began writing as a regular guest blogger and has been a great addition to the site. He also writes at his own site called Hazy Divinity He can be contacted by email at: jrhathcockss@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

I remember when I was young, I was in a church service just about any time the doors were open. My whole spiritual life depended on whether I was at church or not. If I did not go, I felt guilty and made sure I was there the next time. I was always active and participated in many church activities. I felt it was my duty and responsibility to do all I could for the church. I felt that was the only way I could serve God and do what pleased Him.

After many years of being in the organized church system, my wife and I became disillusioned with the religious organization and became a part of ‘The Dones’. We no longer attend a traditional or organized church, and no longer put any hope or trust in religion.

Does this mean we no longer think it is right to be part of a church? Not at all, that is a personal choice. Yet for us, we no longer are a part of it and we are very satisfied with the decision we made to leave. But that does not mean we expect everyone else to think the same way. We have several friends who feel the same way we do about organized religion, yet they want to continue to attend services.

In our case, after leaving the organized church I have noticed a feeling of separation between church goers and non-church goers. After all the years we spent in the organization and all the friends we made, once we left it has been a struggle to overcome a feeling of us and them. Obviously, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and there should be love and acceptance between us no matter if we attend church or not.

If you still feel drawn to the weekly organized meeting, I do not see anything wrong with it. Although we do not believe the church system is designed as God intended, there were very many good things that came out of our time being involved. If you are going to be a part of a local church, keep in mind some important facts.

When going to church, you are not going to God’s house. God does not live in buildings made by human hands. Christ builds His Church from living stones, which is us.

The pastor is not God’s mouthpiece. He or she is only a brother or sister in Christ, and their message is only their opinion. We have the Holy Spirit within us and He is our teacher and guide. We need no one else. It is good to hear other opinions and ideas, yet it is the Spirit that is to be our teacher and guide.

Bringing the tithe into the storehouse is not giving money to the church, and is no longer a requirement. We give out of love as we determine in our heart to give. If you give at the church you attend, you are not giving to God, but to support the organization and pay the bills.

Sunday is not the “Lord’s day”. Every day is the day the Lord has made, and no one day is more important than another.

The Bible is not to be held in the same regard as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The written word is inspired by God but written by men. All the translating men have done over the years, and men deciding which books are inspired and which are not, make it pretty clear that the bible is going to be flawed.  It is clearly stated that Jesus is the living, inerrant Word of God. The written word is a guide to lead us to Christ, but as Jesus told the Pharisees in John 5:39, You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me. They put the scriptures (written word) above the Living Word (Jesus).

When we are told not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, it is not talking about an organized church meeting. It is talking about loving and accepting one another, depending on one another and encouraging one another. We do this in many different ways each and every day, not just on one particular day.

When you go to church, do not fall for someone telling you God is going to show up and the Spirit is going to fall on this place. God is everywhere and the Spirit fell upon mankind 2000 years ago. The Spirit of God is within us and with us all the time. He is not sitting on a throne up in the sky waiting for us. He goes with us each and every day, everywhere we go.

Realize that worship is not singing a few songs, raising your hands when the worship leader tells you to and reading a few scripture verses together. Worship is daily praising God, trusting God and letting Him be Lord of your life. To worship God in spirit and truth involves loving Him with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.

And do not give way to a prideful spirit, thinking you are more spiritual or a “better” Christian because you went to church. Going to a service is a choice, not a requirement and you are no better if you go, and no worse off if you do not go.

Remember, each of us are living stones and equal parts of the body. We are the Church and Jesus is the head of his body. As his Church we are to show God’s love every day to everyone we meet. If you want to attend a local group of believers there is nothing wrong with that. Enjoy meeting with other believers, enjoy the atmosphere but remember you are the Church, you have the mind of Christ and the Spirit of God lives within you. We are to go about our daily lives under the leading of the Spirit, loving God and loving others whether we attend an organized church or not.

So, rather than looking down upon one another: those who attend church thinking we who have left the organization are backsliding from our faith or have walked away from God. Those of us who have left church think those who still attend are stuck in a man-made institution and following doctrines and interpretations of man. Rather, we should realize that we are brothers and sisters in Christ and each of us are loving God and doing what we feel is right and best at this point. We should be loving and accepting of one another and let the world see the love we have for one another, even in our differences. As John 13:35 reads, by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Jim Gordon and his wife left the institutional church after spending over fifty years within the system. Jim wanted a way to express his thoughts and concerns about the religious system and why he and his wife decided to leave the institution but not their faith in God. Jim can be contacted by email at: jimgordon731@gmail.com

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by Jim Gordon

I have talked a lot about the church system, pastors and leaving the institutional church. I do not want anyone to think I am against the organized church. Even though we are divided with denominations and various interpretations of the bible, we should be united in love for God and for one another.

My parents took me to church when I was so young I did not know what church was, and I was faithful just about every Sunday for the next 58 years.

Many good things happen in church, many good friends are made in church, a lot of good information and knowledge about God, love, grace and hope are found in church.

For my wife and I, we grew very dissatisfied with the method of church that is so common today. We would rush to get ready, rush to get there on time, shake a few hands, sit and listen to a few people do all the talking then rush out to get on with our day. There were times when we participated with the various meetings and opportunities the church offered and there were times when we only went to the planned meetings on Sunday and Wednesday.

I want to point out that if you enjoy gathering together on Saturday or Sunday with other believers in an organized service, there is nothing wrong with doing so.

While I personally do not believe church attendance is a must to be a follower of Christ, many people do believe so. That certainly does not make us enemies. Whether in the organized church or not we are all people who love God and are brothers and sisters in Christ. God loves us all just the same.

For me, a few things I look at differently about church is that I do not believe true church is a building, a place, or an organization. I believe Church is people and it does not matter if you attend a building or not. If you want to meet in a building that is OK, just realize you do not have to. We are the temple of God.

Pastors are not the mouthpiece or middle men/women of God. They are fellow brothers/sisters in Christ who are to support, encourage and build up others in their walk with God. The Holy Spirit lives within us and the Spirit is our teacher and guide.

Sunday is not the sabbath. That was old covenant. Many people call Sunday the Lord’s day and I agree, but I also say Monday is the Lord’s day just as every day is the Lord’s day. This (today) is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.

I no longer believe in tithing. That also is old covenant. That is not to say we are not to give but we give as we determine in our heart. We give to help others, not to support a religious system. If you regularly attend an organized church then you should give to help support it. There are salaries to be paid, mortgages and utilities to be paid and various expenses to keep the organization running. Yet giving to those causes is not tithing and not required.

So basically, what it boils down to is that each of us in our own way want to love and worship God and we want others to know of God’s love. How we go about it, if we attend a building for a religious service with others or if we do not, makes no difference. We can go out daily knowing the Spirit of God lives within us, teaches us, guides us and shares the love of God with others. We do not need to look at each other and think the other is wrong for the way they choose to follow God. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ and we are called to assemble together in the commonality of showing the love of God to all we meet.

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by Mike Edwards

It is said that God demands worship and awe which may discourage a close relationship and oppose God’s wishes.  God, like any loving parent, only hopes to persuade through mutual respect that their love is in one’s best interest. We weren’t created to worship God so shut up and give God the glory. God surely created us to share life together.

Doesn’t the Bible command respect for God?

It is easy to read the Old Testament and think that God demanded respect from the Israelites or else! The OT also speaks of Abraham and Moses thinking of God as a Friend. It matters how one reads the Bible. The writers in getting to know God were influenced by their culture where gods were to be feared and revered. But, then Jesus who claimed to be God in flesh didn’t initiate relationships by demanding respect. Jesus got His dander up the most with the religious elite who portrayed God as demanding obedience rather than desiring a relationship.

God’s uncontrolling nature suggests God’s desire for genuine relationships.

If God was controlling or demanded obedience or respect, wouldn’t there be a lot less evil in the world? God doesn’t appear to be like the God of extremists who think that controlling or destroying free, moral decisions result in true love. It may that a God who respects freedom can’t always intervene to stop evil. God may know what we humans know – freedom not force likely leads to genuine, lasting transformations.

The Bible isn’t the only place to understand God and relationships.

The Bible doesn’t even claim to be the specific or only guide to Truth. Jesus when leaving this earth said His Spirit, not some Book, would guide us in truth (Jn. 14:16-17; 16:13). Jesus didn’t seem worried that Truth always requires discernment. Those who claim biblical writers always understood God perfectly likely accept that God created us in God’s image (Gen. 1:27). That passage has a sense of God desiring we represent God here on earth. How can we represent an inaudible God who leaves us with a Book subject to interpretation if we don’t share moral and relationship expectations influenced by God’s Spirit?

Who do you have the most genuine, closest relationships?

I know some may consider it heresy to suggest parents should earn not expect respect as their children age. My parents grew up in the generation where children were expected to be seen and not hear. Parents weren’t seeking to earn their child’s respect must less become close friends as they grew older. Parents were always parents and children were always children.

I was convinced that my children were more likely to act on my guidance, which should be in their best interest, when they desired to do so out of respect than commanded to do so. “Do as I say and not what I do” didn’t make sense to me. Our obedience has absolutely nothing to do with God’s love or a parent’s love for us. Employees or parents have genuine followers not by demanding respect but when there is a sense of mutual respect.

God seeks a close relationship through mutual respect.

God never thought fear led to life-changing transformations. Has gloomy uncertainty as to God’s favor conquered your battles against self-centeredness or long-standing habitual sins? Getting to know what God is truly like can inspire us to be the kind of persons we deep down truly want to be. You can’t get enough of a person or God because you have so much respect, not because you are commanded to love. Love out of fear often only leads to brief obligations out of guilt. My prayers alone or with others doesn’t begin: “Dear God, the Holy One, the Feared Creator of the Universe…” Such talk doesn’t invite getting to know one’s Creator. I talk to God as if a close Friend, and I haven’t been struck dead yet!

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I remember when I was young, I was in a church service just about any time the doors were open. My whole spiritual life depended on whether I was at church or not. If I did not go, I felt guilty and made sure I was there the next time.

Churchattendance

I was always active and participated in many church activities. I felt it was my duty and responsibility to do all I could for the church. I felt that was the only way I could serve God and do what pleased Him.

After many years of being in the organized church system, my wife and I became disillusioned with the religious organization and became a part of ‘The Dones’. We no longer attend a traditional or organized church, and no longer put any hope or trust in religion.

Does this mean we no longer think it is right to be part of a church? Not at all, yet for us, we no longer are a part of it and we are very satisfied with the decision we made to leave. But that does not mean we expect everyone else to think the same way. We have several friends who feel the same way we do about organized religion, yet they want to continue to attend services.

Leaving the Organization

In our case, after leaving the organized church I have noticed a feeling of separation between church goers and non-church goers. After all the years we spent in the organization and all the friends we made, once we left it has been a struggle to overcome a feeling of us and them. Obviously we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and there should be love and acceptance between us no matter if we attend church or not.

If you still feel drawn to the weekly organized meeting, I do not see anything wrong with it. Although we do not believe the church system is designed as God intended, there were very many good things that came out of our time being involved. If you are going to be a part of a local church, keep in mind some important facts.

When going to church, you are not going to God’s house. God does not live in buildings made by human hands, but He builds His Church from living stones, which is us.

The pastor is not God’s mouthpiece. He or she is only a brother or sister in Christ, and their message is only their opinion. We have the Holy Spirit within us and He is our teacher and guide. We need no one else. It is good to hear other opinions and ideas, yet it is the Spirit that is to be our teacher and guide.

Bringing the tithe into the storehouse is not giving money to the church, and is no longer a requirement. We give out of love as we determine in our heart to give. If you give at the church you attend, you are not giving to God, but to support the organization and pay the bills.

Sunday is not the “Lord’s day”. Every day is the day the Lord has made, and no one day is more important than another.

The Word of God

The Bible is not to be held in the same regard as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The written word is inspired by God but written by men. All the translating men have done over the years, and men deciding which books are inspired and which are not, make it pretty clear that the bible is going to be flawed.  It is clearly stated that Jesus is the living, inerrant Word of God. The written word is a guide to lead us to Christ, but as Jesus told the Pharisees in John 5:39, You search the scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me. They put the scriptures (written word) above the Living Word (Jesus).

When we are told not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, it is not talking about an organized church meeting. It is talking about loving and accepting one another, and depending on one another. We do this in many different ways each and every day, not just on one particular day.

When you go to church, do not fall for someone telling you God is going to show up and the Spirit is going to fall on this place. God is everywhere and the Spirit fell upon mankind 2000 years ago. The Spirit of God is within us and with us all the time. He is not sitting on a throne up in the sky waiting for us. He goes with us each and every day, everywhere we go.

Realize that worship is not singing a few songs, raising your hands when the worship leader tells you to and reading a few scripture verses together. Worship is daily praising God, trusting God and letting Him be Lord of your life. To worship God in spirit and truth involves loving Him with all your heart, soul, strength and mind.

And do not give way to a prideful spirit, thinking you are more spiritual or a “better” Christian because you went to church. Going to a service is a choice, not a requirement and you are no better if you go, and no worse off if you do not go.

We are the Church

Remember, each of us are living stones and equal parts of the body. We are the Church and Jesus is the head of his body. As his Church we are to show God’s love every day to everyone we meet. If you want to attend a local group of believers there is nothing wrong with that. Enjoy meeting with other believers, enjoy the atmosphere but remember you are the Church, you have the mind of Christ and the Spirit of God lives within you. We are to go about our daily lives under the leading of the Spirit, loving God and loving others.

LovelikeJesus

So, rather than looking down upon one another: those who attend church thinking we who have left the organization are backsliding from our faith or have walked away from God. Those of us who have left church think those who still attend are stuck in a man-made institution and following doctrines and interpretations of man. Rather, we should realize that we are brothers and sisters in Christ and each of us are loving God and doing what we feel is right and best at this point. We should be loving and accepting of one another and let the world see the love we have for one another. John 13:35..by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

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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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