Monday, July 25, 2011

5 1/2 Millstones, Tombs and Whitewash

I have been writing about religion the last few posts - mostly why I think it is a spirit killer. I often wonder if  vegetarian, eats a juicy steak, are they a hypocrite? If a Satanist DOES not run someone down in the crosswalk, are they a hypocrite? Is it really what we believe that gets us into heaven, or what we do? Is a Christian a hypocrite because they have poor character, fruit-less lives or don't speak in tongues and cast out demons?

For sure, I have more questions than answers. Here's a tough one: What is the difference between being religious, and being a Christian? Ha! After all, isn't Christianity a religion?

-1 Rote Practice: Why is it that we make formulas for getting God to move? One of the reasons that I hate WWJD? is that it limits us from God doing something different. We stuff him in the same yesterday, today and tomorrow box like He won't ever surprise us with a new and creative solution. AND when we get something that does work, we turn it into a program, a framework for prayer, or an outline for a message.

Conversely, we can't do something new to be different. We need to be obedient to God.

Jesus wept (John 15:13), Jesus healed (Matthew 8:13), Jesus rebuked (Matthew 19:13). Jesus loved (Mark 10:21), Jesus hung out with sinners (Matthew 9:10), Jesus let a bad guy on his team (Matthew 10:4) and Jesus healed a guy with spit and dirt (John 9:11) - so which one is the model for all our ministry? It is the one that God is doing at the moment!

-2 Lack of Power: Jesus said to go out into the world and make disciples, heal the sick, cast out demons, and preach the Good news to the lost. Why is it that almost all American churches are not seeing healing, demons cast out and a significant number of salvations? God is still a God of power, and like Jesus, he still isn't forcing himself on anyone. He did not try to convince people as much as he demonstrated the love of God by the power of Heaven. Paul went on to say that the manifestation of this power (love) that is in the gifts (1 Cor 12) is available to all, DESIRE THEM.!

-3 Man-Made Traditions: Pulpits, genuflecting, songs before preaching - the list goes on and on. Jesus preached a lot without music. Music happened without sermons. The disciples went out in tows to cast out demons and heal the sick.Offerings were given directly to ministers.

All of these traditions are suspect, and if they don't translate across cultural lines, then they have to be God locally,or they have to go. (Did you know a lot of people are bored with church? Traditions are a killer.)

Are we at church to practice some set of rules?

-4 Spectator Mentality/Formatted Services: This flies in the face of 1 Corinthians 14. Church services are supposed to be places for us to be obedient to God. Unfortunately we have made the focus of most of our services the worship music and the pulpit, leaving very little room for anything/anyone else to participate.

How can we come to church with a song, a word or a testimony when we don't have a format that allows it to happen? We often her that God is a God of order - LOL - that passage is for the people prophesying and giving tongues and the interpretations of them in the church.

If we are at church to entertained, I suppose that is better and cheaper than a Broadway show, but is it God?

-5 Lack of Freedom: We talk grace and love like it is the key to Christianity. Then we identify ourselves as sinners. How is that possible? Most of the church has a problem calling believers "saints." I don't think it's bad to say where we came from. I think it's bad to make our identity that which we used to be. Our past is not our future. We are a new creation.

Freedom allows us to enjoy our grace. It lets the work of the cross be "completed", "finished" -  "done!" There is nothing more that we can do to please God except to have faith in the finished work, and be obedient to his voice.

-5 1/2 Lack of Love...

Here is a 2 minute testimony that is exactly what I am talking about. Enjoy.

Church, we need to stop doing what we are used to, good at, talented at and put it all on the altar and see what's left after Jesus is allowed to get at it.


Andrea York said...

"All of these traditions are suspect, and if they don't translate across cultural lines, then they have to be God locally,or they have to go."

That's an excellent point, David (as are others you mentioned).

The Religious spirit kills - I've been visiting different churches in my region over the summer and the problem is greater than just evangelical churches.

My husband, being a non-believer, might have a different worldview - but I praise the Lord that he doesn't have a religious spirit. He is more than accepting of my faith that is lived out and demonstrated without confining my expression. Now that's a gift.

Mina said...

I agree with everything you've said, and find that it can be so difficult to get past that Religious spirit, even when you've got people who want a true relationship with the living God. There is nothing sacred about having 5 songs before preaching, or having the altar open for prayer during the slow songs, or what-have-you. It's about doing what God is saying at the time He's saying it, and being willing to be obedient even if what He's calling you to do has never been done before.

Now we just need to remember that we can't turn what God is doing today into the only thing that God will do, ever. ;o)

Char said...

So true, we all need to remember to let God be God... though I do believe there are formula basics that He laid out in His Word for ushering in His presence and softening our hearts to receive. In that respect, though ideally our hearts' should be prepared BEFORE we get to church, the songs first routine does sorta make sense, yet all the while being open for God to lay a Word on someone/get a preach on/drop a glory bomb (haha) before even one fraction of a note breaks into the atmosphere... to expect and welcome God to shake it all up if He so wants to! :-) (Does anyone else get a kick out these word verification languages? haha...)

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