08 October 2012

The Difference Between The World And The Church

Honestly, I don't see much difference in how the world operates and what the church does. I'm not talking about guitars and drums, amps, cool videos, flashy lights, fog, or cool hair and jeans. This is not conforming to the world at all. This is simply culture. Our grandparents thought it was hard core to sing worship songs instead of hymns. I know. What has the church come to?
A church with good artists always has a cool stage.

When Paul was talking about not conforming to this world, he didn't mean don't have flashy lights and cool music in church services. He wasn't talking about exterior stuff. He was talking about being transformed internally. Allowing your mind to be changed. This scripture is one of the most abused texts in the Bible. Seeing this verse in any light other than having an internal change would be using it out of context (Rom 11:30-12:2).

Likewise, I want to focus on a serious problem I find in most churches. Sure, Christians are trying to change people for the good, but how they're going about it is wrong. The world uses fear to control and manipulate people. And, so does the church. There's really no difference.

Let me explain. We constantly see advertisements that use fear to persuade us to buy certain products. The problem is it's so subtle that we don't see it as a fear tactic. For example, everyone knows the recent Corona commercials that show a couple sitting on a private beach even though, in reality, they're on an airplane or working in an office. If we really look at the ad, it's trying to convince us that if we don't drink Corona, then we won't be able to relax and escape the real world.

We could use any example, really. Let's look at Crest toothpaste. If you don't use Crest, then your breath will stink and your teeth will turn yellow. Then, no one will want to talk to you. Proactiv does the same thing. If you don't use Proactiv to clear up those zits, no guy will want to have sex with you. Better brush your teeth and wash your face!

Politics is really bad about this too. Both Democrats and Republicans use fear to get votes. If you vote for Obama, he will let Muslim terrorists take over and drive up the debt. Or, if you vote for Romney, he will take all your free stuff away and only tax the poor and middle class. If you convince people to fear your opponent, then you've got their vote.

Most people with influence and/or power in the world use fear to manipulate people into believing or doing what they want. And, church is no different. Christian leaders (and followers) use fear to convince people to adopt their belief system.

How do Christians do this? For one, they convince people they're all going to hell, unless you accept Jesus and his forgiveness. This message says, "you better believe like we do or you're gonna burn." Clearly, this is not a message of peace and love.

Then, after you finally accept Jesus, it doesn't stop there. You must do whatever is required in order to remain in right-standing with God. However, if you slip-up even once, you better repent of your sinful ways and be sure to get down on your knees and beg God for mercy. Obviously, good Christians don't make mistakes and there's no room for breaking God's commands. If you do end up committing a "big sin", then this clearly proves that you aren't close to God (2 Tim 2:19).

What about giving? If you don't give, then be very afraid. You won't receive God's blessings unless you freely give to your church and missionaries that come to speak. Most Christians teach that if you don't learn to give your money, time, and/or resources, then God won't bless you in return (Luke 6:38). Christian leaders constantly preach that God never gives you anything unless you give first (ignore that whole part about Jesus dying on the cross and forgiving all your sins way before you were born). On the other hand, if you do give, make sure you do it cheerfully. God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7-8). However, if the church is teaching "give or else", then this would only produce fearful givers, right? If you feel good because you gave and now believe God will not withhold his blessings, then you're not really cheerful, are you?

Here are some other examples: Take communion correctly or you'll get sick (1 Cor 11:27-30). Go make everything right with your brother or your offering won't matter (Mat 5:23-24). Get water baptized or you're not truly saved (Acts 2:38). Memorize scripture or you won't be able to use your sword against the enemy (Heb 4:12). Listen to the teaching of God's Word or you won't hear what God is saying (Acts 17:11-12). Worship God with the right heart or your praise won't be pleasing. Fast or you won't get real answer to prayer (Mark 9:29). Know anymore fearfully common beliefs?

Actually, almost everything Christians preach is fear-based. And, it makes me sick. I can't stand to hear this trash. None of it gives life. None of it brings freedom to God's people, but only places them in chains to perform.

Just know that God loves you. He gave everything to you, already. There's nothing left to do, but for you to take what's rightfully yours and love other people with it. Don't allow fear mongers to steal the peace you already have. Don't allow so-called Christians to manipulate you into following a religious do-do system. Jesus did it all. Now, simply trust his sacrifice was good enough. Then, trust God that you're good enough (1 Pet 2:9-10).

This is all about spiritual warfare and the biggest enemy is not in the world. Your biggest enemy is in the church. They dress nicely, say the right things, act perfect, follow all the rules, and convince you to do the same. How is this any different from what Satan does? How is this any different from what the Pharisees did in Jesus' day? Just because the fruit looks healthy and seems good to eat, doesn't mean it won't lead to death (Gen 3:6-7).
A product of Alabama.

Honestly, I trust more people in "the world" than I do those that look and act like they have it altogether (and, show me one person that doesn't portray this on Sunday mornings). I love the people who don't go to church because they're the real deal. They're not trying to be perfect or self-righteous. They don't stare at you weird on Sunday when you show up for lunch at some restaurant and don't have your church clothes on.

Finally, you haven't been given the spirit of fear (2 Tim 1:7). There's nothing to fear anymore because Jesus conquered the only thing that had a hold on you (death). There's only trusting in God's goodness. There's only trusting that Jesus was enough. Even if you mess up, trust Jesus' blood covers you (1 John 2:1-2). We can't possibly do everything right and God doesn't expect us to.

God is Peace. He only operates in peace. He knows no fear. His words only bring life and freedom. And, if there's anyone trying to make you do something "or else," run as fast as you can in the opposite direction.

God only uses peace and love to set his people free. Anyone doing it differently uses fear.

3 comments :

Anonymous said...

LOVE.

Daniel Botwin said...

Awesome bro! Too many "rules" and not enough love!

I laugh every time I see that sign, it shows everything that is wrong with the church in one short sentence. It's like one of those old fire and brimstone preachers yellin at you sitting in the back row "You betta git right with God boy or you gonna burn in hell!" That sure doesn't sound loving.

John 13:35 By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Anonymous said...

This is truth and I love it. I can only hope that more people get a hold of what Jesus is telling you to tell the world!!!