26 June 2012

The Separation Of Church And...You

I want to show you a glimpse of how most modern-day churches are keeping you enslaved into their ministry system. My goal is to encourage you to have the life God has truly destined for you (John 10:10).

Working hard for Jesus.
I've been going to church my entire life. Since most of my life consisted of church, I was a part of every facet. Whatever role you can play, I've done it. And, I learned that none of it draws you closer to God. No amount of praise, work, or service is going to draw you into a real relationship with Jesus (Rom 4). Real change comes from Jesus alone (Rom 2:28-29).

Honestly, all this work just creates more church servants that volunteer their free labor (aka slaves) for another man's established religious vision. Church is not the answer. Jesus is the answer. Getting to know his heart should be your #1 objective (Acts 13:22). Service is an automatic response to knowing your Dad. Just because we feel like we're doing something that makes a difference doesn't mean we're actually changing anything.

So, how are most modern-day churches keeping God's people in captivity (Luke 4:18-20)? For one, most Christian leaders simply don't trust God enough to allow you the freedom to grow in the Spirit. This is why they want you to follow their format and rules for being a good church member. They're not teaching you to hear the Spirit's voice. They're not discipling you on how to heal the sick or how to perform miracles. They are not encouraging you to do anything, but become a member of their church and work in the nursery. They accept you with open arms as long as you're willing to give your all to their dream.

There is something else Christian leaders aren't telling you. It's a proven fact that if churches can get you more involved and make you feel privileged to be a ministry leader, you'll give them more of your time...and money. Creating new venues or opportunities for you to serve is the key. They know the more servants they create to fill menial positions, the more tithes you'll give (yes, they teach this stuff). This is why they strongly encourage you to join their choir or be a greeter at their church front door. Frankly, this is silly. As if singing a praise song or someone greeting you at the door with a fake hello and smile is going to change anyone's life. Is this what God's sons and daughters are reduced to? Sounds like Chick-fil-a to me. At least their paid at Chick-fil-a for providing good food and service.

However, it's not always the leader's fault either. We're not willing to be the men and women that don't depend on a religious master/slave system. We need to stop following people like sheep and follow the Spirit, instead.

You were built for so much more than this! You were designed to change the world around you. You were built to show God's glory and love his people in miraculous ways wherever you go. God made each of us extremely unique and wild and you can't be tamed. He gave you certain desires no one else has. He's also given you gifts and talents that separate you from the rest of the pack. Sure we all operate under the same authority and body of Christ, but it's up to him to guide us where to go and what to do (1 Cor 12:18-21). Likewise, God is the only one that can assemble certain people in your life (Heb 10:24-25). You don't need permission from a pastor or need anyone else's ministry to connect with. Still, if you seek help, weigh carefully what any Christian leader tells you. Trust the Spirit to guide you (John 16:12-15). This is called faith (2 Cor 5:7).

The simple fact that's being ignored is that we are the church (1 Cor 3:16-17). We are the church and not the building we walk into. Our bodies are the temple of God. Christ died so that he could send his Spirit to come live and abide in us (1 Cor 6:19-20). In the Old Testament, God's presence would descend from Heaven and enter God's temple (like a cloud) (Exo 40:34-35). Well, that same presence is now living and breathing inside you and me. Yes, the cloud that settled on God's temple is the same Spirit that fell on Jesus (like a dove) and the same one that lives in you (Mat 3:16-17). Remember the priests who died instantly when they entered the "Holy of Holies" if they weren't completely purified of sin (Heb 9:1-10)? Well, that same not-to-mess-with power and authority is living in your wretched body. However, you're body is no longer wretched or sinful because of Jesus. His incredible sacrifice washed us that clean so the Spirit could dwell in us - completely undeserved (Rom 5:12-17).

So, instead of finding a place to worship, your body is now living worship tissue. It is a living sacrifice and it is dripping with love and forgiveness. Also, in order for your body to worship God to the fullest you have to believe who he says you are and trust him to do great works through you (Rom 12:1-2). It's him working through you, and not you working for more of him.

Here's another tragic problem with today's church. Most churches are built to simply save as many of the lost they can. They take great pride and care in the number of people they can lead into salvation (many churches brag about this number). The problem is that Jesus already saved all of God's people on the cross. Yes, Jesus' sacrifice and blood was enough to cover all sin once and for all (Heb 10:8-10). Now, what happens when you get a bunch of people together trying to do something that Jesus already did? You get weird religious traditions that produce absolutely nothing. Why are we trying to get people saved? Jesus clearly told us to love his people, not save them (Mat 22:34-40). Jesus does the saving. We do the loving.

Today's church has such a small scope and grasp on Christ. Most Christians believe the end-goal is to save people from Hell. However, this is not what Jesus is about, nor is this what the Bible teaches (Rom 2:17-24). God has a much higher calling for you! He's clearly crying out for you to get to know his heart. The windows of Heaven have flooded open (Jesus) and magically landed in your body. The Spirit is looking for someone (anyone) willing to be a vessel to share this Love with others. Church should never be about saving lives, but making disciples that know the heart of Jesus (Mat 28:18-20). These people will change everything around them, on accident.
You are the church. The church is not a building.

Am I telling you to stop going to church? Yes, but only to tear you away from all this religious servant-like nonsense so you can get to know him intimately. Are all churches bad? No, only about 98% don't have a clue (and don't fool yourself into thinking your church is part of the good 2%).

Also, you are not married to your church. You're not going to be punished by God for not attending. Actually, it will be the most rewarding move you've ever made. And, if you're one of those people that has to give your tithe in order to be blessed, then just slip some anonymous cash in your neighbor's mailbox. Trust me, they'll say, "Thank you Jesus!" even if they don't know him.

You must first get away from these small-minded leaders to get a revelation of God's true love and purpose for you. Once this happens, then you can go back to a church building and watch everything from Jesus' point of view (2 Cor 5:16-17).

Warning: You'll never be the same!


Daniel Botwin said...

Hmm, good to marinate on. I agree with you, it's one of those things I guess we as humans get "trained" aka Pavlov v. Dog. Sometimes we hear good stuff it just takes us time to unlearn what we've been fed all our lives. I'm definitely in a place different then I was say a year ago. Just not far enough yet. Boy am I glad I don't have to have it all together.

pastor_brian said...

I'm glad that Jesus thought only of Himself and how He could be served when He was here on earth; it dose set us a good example for how we should act. These terrible churches and their ideas about thinking enough of people to open the door for them when they visit, lovingly caring for kids when their parents bring them to church, taking meals to people who are sick or have just returned from the hospital ... the nerve of it all.
As a pastor I can say that my greatest joy is to ensure that people give money to the church and feel imprisoned and enslaved when they volunteer here; I do find some sort of perverse joy in it. I also love pulling the wool over people's eyes and encouraging them to blindly trust human teachings and my own momentary feelings.

In truth, my greatest joy as a pastor is to see lives changed by the radical, unending, unfathomable love of God. The ONLY reason that I ask people to volunteer for anything is to share that love with others, and I cringe when I hear of anyone feeling "guilt-ed" into serving. I think that we, as followers of Christ, are His hands and feet in this world that carry His love to those who are hurting. I fully trust the Spirit; however I will not (now or ever) treat Scripture as anything less than the Word of God (to promote the words of any currently living human above that of Scripture is to allow the mere humans to claim that any thought/feeling/or momentary impression is God's voice ... a claim which I can never support).

I'm sorry that you seem to have had a different experience with the church; however I beg you to remember that the church IS bigger than your experience. No, the church is NOT perfect; but to disregard and walk away from the church because of experience is to walk away from the one body that has fed millions, built countless hospitals, care for the sick, and been the body that God has spoken through time and again throughout history ... perfect, no; whore-ish at times, perhaps; but it was Augustine who said, " The church is a whore, but she is still my mother".

- Rev. Brian Miller
Next Generation Pastor - GPCCN

Jane Gary said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dathan Ellis said...

Yeah, I've spent so much time unlearning everything that it's ridiculous how much we've been off from the Truth. Definitely let God guide you.

Dathan Ellis said...

My greatest joy is to also see lives changed. I'm just going to do it with the real message of Truth. However, church is not bigger than my experience. You are the church and not your religious institution. The church is not above anyone. We are all the body of Christ and all have important roles. Some parts of the body, however, have less desirable functions like the parts you sit on. I don't care if anyone has the greatest of intentions either. A lie is still a lie. And, I'm tired of seeing God's people not being truly invested in. If other leaders won't do a good job, then I will tell them how awesome they are in Christ. It's critical to treat Jesus' bride with the upmost respect, love, care, and attention. I'd hate to see what it looks like when Jesus comes back and someone has abused her or treated her poorly. It will not be pretty.

-Just An Average Christian Dathan Ellis
The Real Deal

Dathan Ellis said...

The fact that you are desperate to truly know his heart is all he's looking for. It's hard unlearning everything, but it's also fun because for once in your life you can have true love and freedom. Be ready to have your world flipped upside down! ~:-D

Jane Gary said...

Oops...accidentally deleted my earlier comment. But thanks for the encouragement and keepin' it real :-)

Anonymous said...

D-man throwing down the gauntlet; you go brother! I can see Rev. Brian's point; I just hope he and other preachers get it too.

Dathan Ellis said...

Yeah, I hope they get it too.