Ever tired of just going through the motions of Christianity and want to mine the depths of what it REALLY means to live deeply in Christ? Well, we have come to this stark realization over the past few years. We have asked ourselves difficult questions, asked God those difficult questions, and found some far-reaching answers. You might say that our world has been turned upside down - for the better! As I've talked about in previous posts, we made a choice to follow where God was leading and not man - it has forever changed our lives!
We read through Jacobsen's & Coleman's book, "So You Don't Want To Go To Church Anymore; an unexpected journey" several months ago, and I am getting ready to go through it again. Now, before I continue, I must state that I am not replacing this book as my "bible" and I'm not saying that I agree with every single word that is in it. I DO however, believe that this has some KEY truths and elements about how GOD sees our relationship with Himself and what He intended from the very beginning. I am not saying that I think the church is null and I am not saying that you shouldn't go to church - there is a healthy balance between what is being spoken about in this book that I will leave for you to read for yourself, if you choose.
What has been so refreshing and therapeutic for me is the freedom in knowing that I do not have to belong to a church in order for God to move in my life, speak to me, and grow in Him. I do not have to submit to a pastor as if I would my God. (I am NOT saying that we shouldn't respect our leaders, etc. What I AM saying is that God is my God and not another man; and when I say 'man' I am referring to humankind). Yes, I believe God puts pastors/leaders in authority to speak into our lives -what I don't believe is that just because a leader says you must do this or that or else you won't experience this or have that - that I must except that as the inherent truth and word of God. Anyone else who says this isn't right is essentially manipulating/controlling you to some extent so that you can help benefit their own personal agenda and not God's.
This story refers to the church as 'the institution', which I do agree with. Once you have a payroll and a group of leaders governing the overall decisions, you have an institution. There is no such mention of this in the Bible anywhere. God intended for us to be in relationship with Him - yes, have fellowship with other believers - but no in the sense that this one reason would keep you from being in fellowship with Him. This is a concept that I struggled with after we left our church a few years ago. We knew that we couldn't walk in the lies anymore with them, yet we felt like we had no worth, so to speak without being in a church. Now you mustn't confuse this by me saying we shouldn't have fellowship with other believers. The whole idea behind this is that God never said "if you don't go to a church and follow the prescribed formula, you will never be able to have relationship with me." When talking about approval, the book quotes:
"Do what they want and they shower you with affirmation. Cross them and they'll crucify your reputation, with or without the facts." ... "it's a lot easier for you to get out of the system than it is to get the system out of you."See, we went through the martydom by leaving the church we were at - as if we had some sort of disease and had lost our salvation. We took a stand on what we believed to be wrong and what we believed to be the Truth and chose to follow the Truth. No more approval once we disagreed with what the "masses" told us to believe. At another section of the book, they have a discussion on guilt and how it is used to gain the desired outcome by controlling a situation:
"Guilt does that. It shoves us away from God in our time of need, instead of allowing us to run to him, presenting our greatest failures and questions so that we might receive his mercy and grace....we use guilt to conform people's behavior, never realizing the same guilt will them far from God."See, it's a dangerous scary game. And we still get caught up in now that we're gone, just because it is human nature and when these things have been literally ingrained/indoctrinated in us since becoming a Christian, it's hard to just 'stop' all of a sudden. But thanks be to God that He is the ultimate in charge and that when we truly choose to follow HIM and not man, it will happen automatically. Your life is turned upside down without you even knowing it because you have been choosing to put God first and not the approval and guilt-driven system of man.
Weather you agree or not, this book is definitely worth reading. If you disagree, this is great material to debate and argue your points with :) - if you agree with stuff inside, then you're in for a whole new ride as well!