Saturday, September 14, 2013

Is Church God?

"The only supernatural life is the life the Lord Jesus lived, and He was at home with God anywhere. Is there someplace where you are not at home with God?" ~ Oswald Chambers

Clever new derogatory terms like 'churchianity' and 'religiousity' are frequently used to describe the rising modern megachurch. I have a long view that includes much of traditional religion as well.  

Raised a Baptist, I attended church with my family and did all the requisite traditional church things, Sunday School, ice cream socials, annual tent revivals, et al. My mother was a dynamic independent Christian who believed wholeheartedly in the precepts given to us by Christ and His disciples. Occasionally she disagreed with some doctrine presented by our church laws, and so she spoke out and made her voice heard. Needless to say, she wasn't very popular. She wasn’t consciously determined to be a trouble maker, but because she read and studied the Bible daily and actively looked for God to guide her and help her grow spiritually, she often found that man's doctrines no longer made sense to her. 

In fact, it seemed the stronger she grew spiritually, the less she understood why the church would dwell on rituals, rules and legalistic regulations clearly designed to keep people in bondage to a written law. To her it seemed analogous to the Jews who were bound to a written law before Christ came to fulfill it. Mother often pointed out that Paul was heart-broken over the way the Corinthians debated, argued and filled the newly formed church with strife when all they were mandated to do was love God, and be disciples of Christ's sweet message of spiritual freedom. 

It would seem things haven't changed much in two thousand years. (2 Cor. 12:20)
I’ve been a Christian for better than half a century, having accepted Christ and baptized by age nine and never once, even during my worst tribulations, ever believed otherwise than in a perfect God who knows better than I what is best for me. As a child I would swing for hours, praying in my own childish understanding and language simply talking to God, who was completely accessible to me–no priest or minister or doctrine necessary.

When I was older, I had to learn how to pray man's more formal prayers and I'm still not comfortable at open prayer, because I have always felt that prayer was a private conversation between God and me; I am better at ‘praying in a closet’, as Scripture suggests. As I grew up, I continued to reach for a personal relationship with Christ that transcended any other relationship. No matter what, no matter who else failed me, He has always been there for me. I've never needed more proof beyond this so I have learned to walk in daily experience more by faith than sight. I didn’t understand until I was much older that what I have been striving for is not for Him to be here for me, but rather for me to be here for Him. Is that not the purpose of redemption–to live for and represent Him?
When my mother died, I felt such relief for her. She was free from the lifelong struggle of challenging and bucking the system. She wasn't skilled at being a hypocrite so this left her basically friendless and alone, except for her relationship with God and her family. She found out that people don't want to hear that they have muddled things up. People don't want to let go of their rituals and habits. Not unlike the Corinthians centuries ago, people don't want to hear that Christ's yoke is light. They choose to strain at gnats and swallow camels. Apparently the simple path isn't complicated enough for religionists. Furthermore, they need something visible to worship and unfortunately the Church as a fine tuned organization and physical building can and has easily become that idol. This is the danger my mother tried for so long to make people recognize–in the subtlest of ways, today's church has become a god in its own right.
Who can argue that church/religion isn’t big business nowadays? Does it not follow that an organization must admonish its membership to attend regularly to sustain the cash flow? But has this not become the substitutional reason for attending church? If church is necessary for a relationship with God, how does one explain the many fine Christians who have been brought to Christ all alone with only the Bible in their laps? If you can be converted by the power of the Holy Spirit without benefit of clergy, then can you not be sustained by that same Holy Spirit? Do we not worship a living God–One whose will can penetrate and change us individually and eternally?
If you seek a deeply personal ‘everywhere’ relationship with God, you find you have less need for manmade doctrine. You may long for human fellowship, you may need to be needed, but God is available 24/7, outside the building, not just on Sundays and Wednesday nights. Isn’t this the only religion we really need? Further, is it possible we have forgotten that Christ came to establish a way of life, not a religion? Of late I have met many more who are beginning to understand this so I know it’s not just my own skewed point of view.
Since I do not affiliate myself with a particular doctrine, I am not therefore definable as a Baptist or a Lutheran or a Methodist or a Catholic. I'm not conservative or radical or Pentecostal. I reject any theology that doesn't place Christ’s needs in its center, and that includes the so called ‘New Age’ and humanist religions that hide behind a Christian mask and aren't really all that new. Does that mean that I am not a Christian? I have often wondered what category Christ would fit into? What label would He wear? He chose none, and thus He was dismissed. It has occurred to me that if He walked into my house and I asked, "Lord, what church do you belong to?" He would likely respond, "If ye can ask this, ye have not known me."
I admit that, when I was younger, it did distress me to know that in order to be recognized as a Christian, one must be affiliated with a church. But the real point here is not about belonging to a church; it is about holding yourself responsible for your relationship with God and your own personal spiritual growth instead of leaving it up to an institution, a doctrine or a tradition. In the end, when you stand before God, you won't be able to fall back on your doctrine, or your religious label, or how devoted a church-goer you were, but only on the answer to the question, “Did you seek Him, did you serve Him?”
Our vision has become so blurred by the ever morphing powers and needs of the physical church, we are unable to see the basic needs of Christ's real church–the one that is made up of faithful believers who are comfortable with God anywhere. The one that has no walls, nor boundaries and reaches all the way to Heaven.

For Christ,

For we know that, if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.  (2 Cor. 5:1)


  1. Dear Meema,

    First, very happy you're still blogging!

    This is a beautiful post, and I agree completely. My husband and I read, study and discuss the bible daily. I homeschool our son, and bible study is a regular part of his curriculum. I have thanked our Lord for the gift of the internet as it has brought so much teaching from excellent pastors (and Christian bloggers - see yourself here:)) into our home. I regularly marvel at the riches I find on-line for help in studying the bible.

    God bless your Mother. I like that she could not be a hypocrite.

    Yours in His Holy Word,


    1. Gwen, thank you for your kind words. The Internet is indeed a blessing. How ironic that it does so much harm and yet there is a great good it has accomplished, i.e., connecting the Remnant. That’s a hard thing to say–Remnant–but, of late, I have understood it better and so I am able to say it with more resolve than apprehension. There is a Remnant and it’s not exactly who religionists have assumed it would be, but rather a somewhat ragtag bunch, not unlike the first century followers of The Way, simple in their understanding, devoted and willing to heed the call to Come ye out whatever the worldly cost is.

      I have wanted to quit blogging mostly because I hate to just keep harping and saying the same things over and over. But there’s something else too. I’m not a prophet but I am mature enough in the spirit to feel God’s grief and studying the best history book ever written I recognize the signs of the end of God’s patience. I’m not sure I am up for the responsibility of being the last one to say something before eyes are blinded and no longer allowed to see. I assume you know what I am talking about. We don’t know the end but we can know that there is one.

      The other good thing about the Net is that I’ve been introduced to amazing men of God and their writings, those who have passed like Oswald Chambers, David Wilkerson, A.W. Tozer, Vance Havner, and T Austin-Sparks, and those who are still trying to sound the alarm, like Chip Brogden and Michael Boldea. And, of course, there are many more whom I have not yet found. Regardless those I know of, those still here and those gone to be with the Lord, whether having taught the Word decades ago or yesterday, all have the same timeless message–contrition, repentance and redemption, not by our own might but by the sacrifice of our Redeemer.

      You and your family are blessed beyond measure. Be comforted.

      For Christ.