The following question was posed in a forum which I was a part of:-
“Why is church the one place which shoots its wounded?“
With over 150 comments, it brought up a lot of hurt that “the church” had caused to people, there are a lot of wrong actions that “the church” have committed throughout history, not counting the wrongs committed against innocent children (as I don’t want to discuss that abhorrent behaviour here!) In recent history, a lot of “innocent” adults have been abused physically, emotionally and spiritually all in the name of Christianity! Things that I have heard like-
- “My pastor rebuked me in front of the whole church and preached against my beliefs, only to preach them the next week!”
- “Many ministers wouldn’t marry us as we were not part of their parish!”– (Now I can understand requesting that they come to a few services but refusing them outright?! Surely having a church-based wedding is better than a secular one? Or is there the issue of “so you want God at your wedding but not the rest of your life?“)
- “My pastor became like an uncle to me, but then when I left the church, he made a phone call and said all sorts of horrible things about me to the leader of our new church!”
Is that what Jesus said to do?
I know church leaders are only human and they make mistakes, like we all do, but unfortunately it gets blamed on religion! The definition of Religion is
- The belief in and worship of a supernatural controlling power, especially a personal god or gods.
- A particular system of faith and worship.
- The way of life committed to by monks and nuns.
- Any practice that someone or some group is seriously devoted to.
The problem is that people see Christianity as an unpaid “part time job”,- where “you have to do …”, “you have to say…“, Jesus never said “do this so often that you forget the reason“, the only thing that Jesus said that we should do with any regularity is rest on Sundays and keep it holy! Everything we do should be a conscious act!
Some of us who have grown up in church, have acquired a certain amount of set rules in our heads:-
- All children should be quiet! Or they will be frowned and tutted at!
- You should be on time! (“5 minutes early is close to godliness” I have been told!)
- If your parents do stuff in church then you will more than likely become actively involved somehow!
- You will hear a sermon on tithing at least 4 times a year if you are lucky! Possibly more if you are not!
- The majority of jobs in “the church“ are done by a minority of people (mostly of the grandparent age bracket!)
- People speaking in tongues sounds like “gobbledy-gook” or “mumbo-jumbo” (it could be “Greek to me” but I dont speak Greek so I wouldn’t know anyway!) If you are not used to it, it will freak you out, if you are used to it, then it won’t!
Some churches appear to be so worried/ignorant about the spiritual realm, that they miss out on the power of the Holy Spirit moving, healing and changing those in the congregation! On the flip-side some churches are so desperate to see “Manifestations of the Spirit” that they hanker after every possible experience to come and take root in their church.
There is a danger with both positions. Firstly, by not allowing the Holy Spirit to move, not giving him space to move, because the “Order of Service” is so regimented and worked out to the minute, that we do not stop and “breathe” or “rest in the presence of God“, we miss a whole chunk of what God can do in our churches through and with those that believe the “Gospel of Jesus Christ“! Too many rituals and acts that are performed without much deliberate conscious thought cannot be conducive to true worship surely?
Secondly, hankering after every single “Manifestation” is dangerous, who is to say it is a Godly one? I have seen video footage from a movement that believes in getting “drunk in the spirit“, the footage I saw (shot by someone who supports their movement) has people being given bread soaked in wine, after about 6 minutes into the footage almost everyone is pretty much “wasted” you could have got similar video footage from a bar on a Friday night! I would love to have asked “Do you know what you have done? Why are you taking communion? What has Jesus done for you?” If they are truly filled with the Holy Spirit then surely they will be able to coherently explain the gospel as it reminds us of the word when we need it!
Fundamental Christianity has been given a bad name by people who “bible bash” and “judge” others who do not live “righteous” lives as they see fit. The fundamental doctrines of the bible are
- God loves us
- We all have sinned/messed up/done stupid things
- Christ died for all the things we do/have done/will do that are not loving
- We need to share that fact by loving others as Christ loves us!
- Everyone is equal, everyone deserves to be treated as a human being!
If we all lived as Jesus did, we wouldn’t judge, we wouldn’t consider ourselves greater than anyone else! Doing things out of habit or ritual sucks! But having a faith, a real day-to-day relationship with:-
- God a loving father & king,
- Jesus a brother who was willing to die for you and me, and has a lot of very good advice!
- The Holy Spirit who filled the disciples at Pentecost, and is in every believer!
That kind of relationship Rocks!! And that is surely what we should hanker after! If we are living lives like that, then surely our joy and passion will overflow, and those who haven’t got it will want it! Jesus death came to bring grace and mercy to us all, the judgement of our mistakes was upon him. If we feel we are in a place to be judgemental of others then maybe we need to remember what jesus said and then realise that none of us are!
Please enjoy this video! and remember the amazing grace that saved a wretch like us, needs to be shared!