Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Organized Christianity

Organized Christianity

"I'm against organized religion, but for organized christianity".  This is a quote I made last week because this issue seems to be on my heart a lot.  I'll be honest I get really discouraged with church groups and denominations sometimes.  They seem to be more concerned about their own agendas, traditions, or intrepretations of the Bible in order to push their views, instead of simply trying to Love God and because of that Love Others and be The Church.

I am now part of the Independent Christian Churches/Churches of Christ, they are a part of the Restoration Movement that was started back in the 1800's to try and restore the church back to the church in the New Testament and away from many of the denominational practices that were taking places in organized church groups of that day.   

While I respect and admire many of these efforts in my church group and others over the years, it seems that no matter the church group, everyone seems to think their way is better, they are right and everyone else is wrong, and they've cornered the market on holiness and being closer to God.  Ask the church of Christ, many of them think they are the only ones going to heaven. Ask the fundamental bapitst, they are they are God's chosen police to condemn and judge everyone heretic and wrong if they don't follow their practices.  Ask the Catholics, they are Saints.  Ask the churches I am a part of, we say we are not the only christians, but christians only, but what they really mean, is, we got it righter than anyone else and truth is most of these groups can't even get along with themselves.

I get frustrated by organized religion. I know that may sound weird coming from a preacher.  There was a time awhile back where I struggled in my faith and nearly left the church and christian faith altogether, yeah it was my fault I fell away from my faith and  made poor choices, but I also was hurt by the way some christians treated me because "I used to be a youth minsiter and now I wasn't acting like it" , and I was also amazed at how some people saw me at a bar and grill eating and drinking and came up to me and started sharing their problems with me wanting help because they finally felt comfortable talking to a "christian" or "minister" because I was on their turf.  I always said, I'm in a bar drinking, I'm not in ministry anymore nor am I in a place to give advice because my life is screwed up right now, but that didn't stop them, and it made me realize  I was wrong and needed to repent and get right with God and get back to His business instead of drinking and feeling sorry for myself and continuing down a road of regret and bad choices.

I am not adovacting minister's hit bars and start drinking or that we as christians lower our biblical standards of behavior, but looking back I realized my beef wasn't with the church, God, or christianity, it was with organized religion.  People playing church and churches playing God, and christians being religious instead of having a real relationship with God.

I regret my past mistakes and choices and that dark time in my life, but God taught me some valuable lessons through that dark time.  Yes, I am back in the "organized" church, and yes I am a "preacher" again, and I truly appreciate God's grace and forgiveness more, but I refuse to be "religous" or loyal to any one religous doctrine or group.  The more I read and study the Bible the more I realize the way we do things isn't always correct, that the way certain church groups do things is not biblical or the only way to do things, and that we get a lot of things wrong. 

However, in saying that the church is still the hope of the world.  God created THE church, HIS Church to be the body of Christ and the vessel to share Jesus Christ with the world.  It would do us all a great favor to by loyal to Christ first and stop being loyal to our denominations or church groups and their doctrinal stances or traditions and start being simply a christian.  We are so ready to not fellowship with someone or judge them "less than" us because they don't agree with us or don't practice or participate in certain things like we do.  Why do we have so many church groups and denominations? Because people can't get along and think their way is better!

If they use instruments or don't use instruments in worship. If they speak in tongues or don't speak in tongues.  If they don't use the same bible version as me. If they don't follow my catholic or protestant rituals.  If they don't believe in eternal security or follow the five points of calvanism, or let women preach.  The list is pretty endless of the issues we will condemn others to hell, refuse to accept them as our brothers/sisters.

I know  many of you will say, now the Bible says this and the Bible says that, but let's be honest, you are using scripture to prove your point and justify your behavior instead of letting scirpture lead and guide you.  That is wrong in any church group or denomination. We are so easy to grab our churches favorite scriptures that we've been mis-using or taking out of context for years to back up our churches stances. 

When I read the Bible I am trying to let God shape and mold me not looking for things to back up or support preconceived ideas, doctines, or stances I've already got.  So many times that is how we read or use the Bible.  People we need to repent and start letting God, His Holy Spirit, and His Word mold and shape us around it instead of the other way around.

It is time we are loyal to God and His church and not "our" church or denominations or agendas. It's time we are relational and not just religious.  You want to know why prayer is out of schools, and abortions are legal, and all the other garbabge we got going on in the world today?  It's called sin and it's going on because christians and churches are too busy arguing with each other to seek and save the lost and make disciples.

Imagine who different our bible studies and sermons and church serivces would look if we focused on important things, salvation issues, evangelism, prayer, and discipling christians into maturity instead of pushing or promoting our religious views of our favorite topic?? 

I am tired of organized religion.  I want to be an organized christian.  Yes I am the Minister at the Ronceverte Christian Church and yes I am a preacher in the Independent Christian Churches/churches of Christ, but those things do not define me or limit me.  I am a Christian and I am a child of God. I am a minister of the gospel and if you came to know God through Jesus Christ(the only way) and were saved through Him,  then you are my brother or sister. We may differ on may views, but that doesn't mean I am better than you or that you are more spiritual than me.

You can call me a liberal, or watering down the truth, or any names you want, go ahead,. While you waste your time judging me, condemning me, or contiuing down the path of ignorance, arrogance, or religous practice, I will continue to focus on my personal relationship with God to grow as a christian and will strive to fulfill my calling as a Minister of the Gospel and continue to read and study my bible so that I may grow in my faith, knowledge, wisdom, and teaching.  I will not always get it right, I may be wrong sometimes, but I am going to continue to support organized christianity and rebuke organized religion.

Acts 11:26b(niv)
 The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

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