Over the years many Christians have been taught that the most important thing for them to do is to go around and get people to come to their particular churches, and then get them to confess Jesus as Lord. It doesn’t matter if you are Catholic, Pentecostal, Baptist, Lutheran, Jehovah Witness, Mormon, Non-denominational, shoot the list goes on and on, there are so many division in this faith we call Christianity, but the point is, every single denomination teaches the same thing, “get those people to our faith, and get them to confess Jesus.” Now of course, each have different ways of doing this, different means of getting people into “heaven” as they say. For the Catholics its infant baptism then confirmation, for the Church of Christ, baptism as an adult is the key, for the Pentecostal’s it’s all about confessing and then getting “spirit filled”, as if somehow the spirit of God is outside of us just waiting for us to say, “Come on in.” For many Evangelicals it’s the same, it’s the sinner’s prayer. You simply ask Jesus to come into your heart. Which of course places the spirit of God’s son somewhere far away, and renders God’s spirit powerless unless you first ask for it and want it. Let me let you all in on a little secret, God doesn’t need an invitation, and the Son of God is closer to all of you then you have ever thought.
So, for many the key is getting people to come to their places of “worship” and getting them to go up for an altar call, or to “accept Christ in their heart”. Then some churches, ironically will put these people through a training program and test them to see if they are “ready” to truly be baptized in their churches tap water. But the question I have, and you should have, is this what God meant when we read about preaching the Gospel. Is the good news to simply accept a man from two thousand years ago into your heart, get dunked, go to Church, tithe, and scour the earth to find others to join that church?
So you must obey them, and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, because they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a single finger to move them. 5: Everything they do is for men to see. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called "Doctor" or "Reverend". 8: Don't let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. And do not call anyone on earth "father", for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called teacher, for you have one teacher, The Christ!. 11: The greatest among you will be your servant. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled. 13: ...You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.
Back in the day, it wasn’t much different. It was all about getting people to join the club. The problem Jesus saw with this is, is that these religious leaders were actually doing more harm than good.
Notice what the problem is, and was? Our understanding, like the Gentiles of past, was DARKENED. In other words we no longer understood the Light of the Truth, and because our understanding was Darkened, because we became ignorant we became ALIENATED from the LIFE OF GOD through our ignorance. And we began to believe God was somehow far from us, angry at us, we believed ourselves to be unworthy and because of this insecurity and fear we began to act ignorantly.
And unfortunately, religion perpetuates this darkness. Most churches only reinforce the belief that you need to work for God’s approval, when the OPPOSITE is true. How many sermons have you heard on tithing, church attendance, volunteering, joining a group, or being disobedient in some way.? Ways you never even thought of. Then were told that God was gonna be angry, disappointed, or that you are, or will be punished unless you listen and do what the Pastor says. Jesus said "your rules are but laws made by men" He told them that they disobey the law of God to follow rules made by men. They dont help their parents, cause they are saving that money for their tithe, Jesus said. The apostles said "we will obey God rather than men" Paul said he got his knowledge of God by revelation from Jesus, not from men, and that he did not consult any man once he started preaching the Gospel. WHICH IS GOOD NEWS!! ( If you want chapter and verse for any of this, let me know. I can assure you that most of what goes on in todays church wont be found in the New Testament)
We have to stop thinking of ourselves as less than, and start seeing ourselves through the eyes of grace. We need to stop condemning ourselves and listening to people who say “you aren’t worthy, you’re worthy of hellfire you darn sinner.” We need to stop listening to people who say, “Do this, join us, and you’ll be saved.” Because the truth is not found there and it never will be found there.
You can say Jesus is your Savior until you’re blue in the face. You will never KNOW salvation, if you don’t know who you are in CHRIST, and the only way to do that is to DO THE WILL OF THE FATHER. And notice how Jesus DOESN’T say, whoever does the WILL OF THE FATHER is my servant or slave. Jesus calls us friends, brothers. He calls us to live a life of love. Love God, love your neighbor as yourself. It's just that simple. There is your salvation. The realization of these simple little truth's
To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
And there you have it my friends, Christ in you, the hope of Glory. Paul says we are heirs, and we shine like stars in the universe. That God DOES NOT dwell in buildings built by human hands. Jesus said 'you search the scriptures diligently for me", and yet, HE WAS STANDING RIGHT IN FRONT OF THEM, and they didn't recognize him, or believe him. God is in you, The word of God is Jesus Christ! The answer does not need to be found from a pastor, or memorizing the bible. God wants a relationship with you, wherever and whenever you are ready. He is IN you, talk to him. He doesn't want ten percent of anything, or an hour on Sunday, he wants you, good and bad, whenever, wherever. Just like the Pharisees of old, the churches of today still teach the same thing. The Pastor or leader knows God better than you do. He is smarter than you, he is holier than you, he knows scripture better than you, so you better do what he says! Women are second class citizens, only good for filling up the pews, volunteering to help, and donating money. Yes, and dont forget to give 10 percent (pre-tax) to store up treasures for yourself in heaven, or earn those extra crowns.
Fear, everything is based on fear. My friend, Darin Hufford asked the question~"what if God came out and said hell was closed? No more hell. Everyone goes to heaven. How many would still get up on Sunday morning and go to church?" I say not many. Some will say "I would" Just in case. (just in case God is watching) because we have become so afraid of God that we will do anything we are told "just in case". To me, this is one of the greatest abuses perpetrated on God's children. Keeping them as robot's, in obedient fear of displeasing God, the whole time saying God is love. Why then should we be afraid? Most Institutional churches would collapse overnight, if God came out of the clouds and took over TV for 2 minutes and said there is no hell and that everyone goes to heaven. Think about this....How many of you would be mad if it was true? That everyone went to heaven....after all you did?????Where do you think you got that from?
Look, I love God. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, the bright morning star. I believe he died on the cross for the sins of the world. I believe he rose from the dead, and is God. He has prepared a place for us, and he said if it was not so, he would not have told us. I worship God all day long, everyday. I don't need a pastor, a building, or a book, to do any of this. All I had to do was open my heart and listen. I will not be scared into loving a God that loves me unconditionally any more!!!
Peace, God's peace, to you all.