One of the reasons I started this blog was the insistence by many of my fellow Christians that they belong to one group or another. Their “title” their “particular sect” of Christianity seems, to their way of thinking to be the “Way.” They, like the cults, seem to hold the key to Biblical understanding.
I find this very contrary to the Bible. I cannot find that way of thinking anywhere in the teachings of the New Testament. Maybe I am, as I have been told, “totally misguided,” but I have never had anyone be able to tell me exactly why. I am told “you shouldn’t try to invent another gospel.” I really don’t think I am. I am simply cutting to the chase and deleting all the man made rules, do’s and don’ts.
I was recently visiting with my brother and I told him, “we were very lucky to be raised in the church we were raised in, by the parents we had.” He agreed completely. The church we attended taught that salvation was a gift from God and was available to everyone who called upon the name of Jesus. You didn’t have to keep a bunch of rules, just trust in God and thank Him for caring enough to make a way.
Our parents took the time to explain the stories we were taught in Sunday School and spent time in dialogue with us answering questions and sharing the wonderful news , God’s grace was what the Good News of the Gospel was all about.
My brother said that he could go to any Christian church and worship. It didn’t matter because the church is a place for fellowship with other believers. He could go to a Southern Gospel song fest, attend a service in a liturgical church, attend a Catholic Mass or attend a Christian block party and know that the fellowship of other believers was what allowed him to focus on God.
I had a “Conservative” Christian friend tell me recently, “I am a little more forgiving than you are.” He was speaking about my questioning the Pastor’s obsession with Politics and other social issues that really had no place in the worship service. He said he felt that “working in the church” and “bringing in people to help support the ministry” were what it was all about. I am afraid that many of the “Conservative Christian” churches and a lot of the other brands of “Christian” churches all believe the same.
The Good News that is being taught starts with a kernel of truth and just enough Bible reference to make people think that they are on the right track, but then comes a healthy dose of “Fox News” and CBN, which totally throws the whole thing into a black hole.
Week after week many of the churches beat the people up about sin. “I know you must have had an impure thought!” “Come to the alter and rededicate your life to Jesus.” “You need to focus on overcoming the sin in your life.” “The end is near and if you don’t confess your sins, God will take away your salvation.” On and on they go, trying to get as many to the altar as they can so their “numbers” will be better than the guy in the next town.
My wife and I were attending a week long revival at a major denomination’s district campground. The last night the evangelist was in rare form. He preached, he pointed fingers, he strutted back and forth up and down. He pumped the crowd. He foamed at the mouth and threatened “Eternal Damnation!”
As the people waved hands in the air, cried and started running down to the altar in the front, my wife and I looked at each other and shook our heads. We hadn’t seen that much hysteria since the last Christian Rock Concert we had attended.
The icing on the cake took place during the prayer time that followed, when the evangelist reached into his pocket and pulled out a pen and pad. He quickly moved across the stage counting each person kneeling before him and wrote the number down, “for his report.” It was all about how many people he got to come forward that judged his “success.”
Each year we were asked to fill out a yearly report of our ministry’s activities. One of the questions was: “How many souls were saved under your ministry this year?” My answer, each year, was: “Only a liar or a fool would put a number in this box.” It always amazed me that some of the Pastors and Evangelists were questioned about the number, either “too low” or “too high,” but never once in the ten years I worked in the denomination did anyone ever make reference to my answer.
Half truths, sometimes outright lies, politics, anti this and anti that are taught in many of today’s churches. Watered down gospel messages, which are really no gospel at all are taught and anyone questioning is pressured to “shut up” and “submit” to whatever authority is in power.
The fact that so many well meaning Christians would point fingers at the President, who claims to be a Christian and is raising his family to be Christian while supporting someone who does not hold Christian beliefs, who thinks he is a “god in embryo” and “hopes to one day become a ‘god’ himself” totally blows my mind. Have we slipped so far from the basics of Christianity to totally ignore the leading of the Holy Spirit? Have we so totally twisted the Good News that we are back to keeping the law and thinking our salvation is in a church like the Republican Presidential candidate does?
Why don’t we get back to the basics of the Bible? Why don’t we focus on the main theme. Why don’t we get rid of the titles and forget about trying to please God by what we do and simply thank Him for What He Did for us?