Last month, God broke church for me and He is still breaking it. What do I mean by saying that? For starters, I stayed away from my church for over a month. It took many weeks to rid myself of churchology (The theology of church), and I had to stop listening to well-meaning mis-guided people who kept telling me that I had to go to church. By the way: I don’t have to go to church – and I can back that up with a ton of scripture so don’t even go there. As many of my friends know, I spent most of the month of February fasting from food and living on water only. It was during the fast that I also allowed myself to be broken out of church. I know this is gonna sound like blasphemy, so if you’re easily offended, please stop reading now and go look at a painting in the gallery or perhaps some photos in the photo blog. Since you’re still reading, don’t forget, I gave you fair warning and a link out… So no throwing stones.
First of all, church attendance does not in any way equal relationship with God. Here in Carson City Nevada there have been many popular pastors over the years. You could tell they were popular because as you went about your business in town, people would continually invite you to their church to see their awesome pastor so and so. It’s sad really because no one ever invited me to go to church to meet their awesome God: Jesus Christ, but rather their funny or cool pastor. What happens when you have issues at church that remained unresolved? What happens when people abuse you at church? What happens when it appears church has lied to you? What happens when you can’t seem to hear from the pastor at your church?
Thankfully, God led a friend of mine to the following scripture: Genesis 20. Give it a read… it’s quick and very pertinent to this discussion. Did you read it? Did you notice how Abraham was a real certified donkey? He lied about his wife because he was a coward. Then he gave his wife away. Then God convicted Abimelech and told him Sarah was married and not to touch her. Then Abimelech has to pay silver to Abraham and give him livestock and Abimelech goes so far as to say – “hey, kick it in my country… wherever you want”. This is the same Abraham we refer to as the father of faith. Hebrews 11:8-19 gives us an outline of Abrahams faith. The writer of Hebrews fails to mention that Abraham is kind of a filthy dirty rotten lying liar. It almost seems unfair how someone who can be looked at as full of faith and as a chosen vessel to have Christ’s bloodline through can be such a donkey.
The revelation my friend had is that yes Abraham is a jerk… but God looks to the finished work of faith in Abraham. God sees the sacrifice of Isaac, God sees the death of Abraham and Sarah in the belief that God will still do what he promised. For the purpose of this post, the church is Abraham and us church-goers are king Abemelech. Just because the church is a lying-liar, a coward, a jerk-faced donkey… we are still commanded to give, to attend, to forgive and to show favor to this broken corpse of a church because God sees His bride as finished (from the beginning). I can feel some of you saying ‘hey, but that isn’t fair’… I feel you bro or sis. Believe me, I am in agreement. And yet, if it be God’s – what’s it to you? If you were saved while yet a sinner and an enemy of God – what right do you have to pick a fight with God’s anointed ( 1 Samuel 26:23-24 )? While we were filthy, lying, evil, wicked, perverse, rebellious, dishonoring, cruel dreamers of selfish ambition, Christ still died for us. It is His grace and blood which allow us to stand before our God and tabernacle with him. It is never what we do – but what He did, and He sees the work as complete – hence: “It is finished”!
Do we judge others in church? I can hear the legalists about to tell me how they need to judge the fruit… I’ve even been that legalist on more than several occasions. When do we judge fruit at church? In what context is the entire concept of judging fruit based? Are you sure? Show yourself the scriptures and pay special attention to the red ink. One interesting detail is that we are not called to judge trees, but fruit. We shall know a tree by its fruit. Good trees don’t produce bad fruit and bad trees don’t produce good fruit. How many times has a tree produced a fruit we are not familiar with, which at first glance and taste seem strange, only for our tastes to change and realize how great that fruit is later???
Do we get to judge the church? Do we get to sit over a pastor and guide the congregation? Is it our job to figure out how to spend God’s money? What is the true role of an elder? (Please use the Bible alone… I realize many denominations have books and books printed on this subject)
We all start at a unique point in time and space (chosen in advance by our heavenly father) and hopefully we Christians are heading for the point of Jesus Christ. On our journey to Jesus, we have similarities with others on the same journey – but it is never for us to insist that people get on our path. One thing I can say about the path is it is never about our self identity but rather Christ’s identity. We have been created to bring glory to God through Christ not to glorify or magnify our own name. It’s at Christ’s name that every knee shall bow and every tongue confess to the glory of God the father. My name, your name, the pastor’s name, they all mean nothing. Scripture says we died and were buried with him, and have been raised to new life in him. We are no longer our own. We are purchased for a price. We are His. We are no longer conformed to the patterns of this world but rather transformed by the renewing of our minds. I could go on, but I’m sure with reading and reflection you will get the idea.
We are not called to worship the worship. We are not called to give praises to the teachers and pastors in our churches, in fact, perhaps a little ‘Get behind me Satan’ is in order with many of the flowering comments made to pastors. After all, pastors are men and women who God has called to a higher place of accountability. If you curse, you look bad and bring shame to yourself. If a pastor curses, it seems to bring shame to his/her self, his/her family, his/her church and ultimately his/her God. Not to mention, the very act may drive people away and give a spiritual black eye to every other believer and pastor on the planet. No one should sign up for that job without a divine calling.
I love the social aspects of church. God broke those too. Church is not a country club it isn’t a place where ‘Membership has its privileges’ in fact, it is the opposite. Membership has responsibilities. The responsibility to seek God, to ask Him for His will daily, to pray for one another, a commitment to overlooking the shortcomings of others no matter how glaring and frequent. Church is believing the best, lifting up not tearing down, encouraging each other, singing songs and hymns, sharing spiritual and physical meals together, working as one body united by one spirit – the Spirit of the living God. Church is anointing with oil, baptizing, teaching, preaching, caring, cleaving, persevering, and overcoming. It is not a place we go but a state of being. The true power in the church is when two or more like-minded, sold out, all in people who are living in the state of church (communion with God) Jesus says He is with them as also – thus we get church. The blind see, the deaf hear, the mute speak, and the dead come back to life. It sounds like a blast, and it is – but it’s not some membership driven pusher of religious bondage… the true church is alive like our Christ is alive. He’s alive and we get to have relationship with him in every aspect of our lives. Our relationship is never confined to a building once a week for an hour or so. God is not entertainment, and He will not allow you to forever compartmentalize your relationship with him.
What about missions? Glad we are talking about that. The clearest teaching I have ever received on the topic of missions is as follows: Do you pray with people here? Do you lead people to Christ here? Do you preach here or teach here? If not, what makes you think you are going to do it there? (wherever ‘there’ is?) If it isn’t who you are, what will be different when you are in a potentially uncomfortable situation in totally unfamiliar surroundings? I will say, that if you have been preparing and seeking God and then feel either called or sent into the mission field, I have seen that experience change the level of commitment for people forever. Sadly however, I have also seen the mission field send people away from God. The key to me is earnestly seeking God first.
Finally, prayer closet time. There is nothing better on earth than spending time listening to God and hanging out with Him. I had some confusion on the topic of closet time which needed to be clarified. I thought closet time had to do with the movie ‘War Room’. For those that haven’t seen it, I recommend it. It is about having a prayer place and intercession through prayer. The problem for me, and where I’m just now finally being broken of the final piece of church is about having a prayer agenda with God. When I go into my prayer closet, I have to burn my list. I have to put all the people and things on my list to the side and earnestly seek Him and His will. That verse in the Bible about ‘if my people, who are called by my name, would humble themselves and pray…’ Do I really think God needs my solutions to national problems? Or how about when we pray for peoples symptoms to go away? There are so many ways we can pray for things that are good but they are not what God wants or not at this time. If we go to God with no agenda, no list and seek His still, soft voice, we will find ourselves living in the overflow of our relationship with Him. He will give us visions and words and dreams and scripture to guide us and truly help others. And the beauty is we don’t have to ask for those things because they are all a part of the nature of having a relationship with Him. Our prayer is more and deeper relationship – the outcome is everything else. Hence the greater gift of Love. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength… and love your neighbor as yourself.
There is more testimony from the last fast which I will be covering later. There is more church stuff that has been broken off and even a new vision for what God has for me and I will be sharing that as it falls a little further into place. Hope you have a blessed day, In Jesus name.