“What church do you attend?”
That is the most commonly asked question I receive after talking with someone about the Lord. I thought that was interesting because since I have been saved, I haven’t asked anyone what church they attended. But the real interesting part is that individuals don’t believe me when I tell them that I currently do not belong to a church. Actually, I have had people look at me like I was crazy and immediately give me a card with their church’s information on it. I began to feel like when I tell people that I didn’t belong to a church they begin to question my salvation. Why can’t someone be Christian and not identify with misconceptions produced by religion? Why is that so hard to believe? I have no idea. But I feel like religion has something to do with it.
To make things clear, I have absolutely no opposition to having a church home. Actually, when I first got saved I did a lot of church searching, hoping to find the anointed southern church that I had always imagined I would attend. During the process of trying to find a church that seemed best for me I had been lied to, encouraged to believe false doctrine, and bombarded with religious beliefs. And I still to this day can’t understand why everybody always tried to lay hands on me. You know, those crazy religious beliefs that crowd you with a bunch of rules and regulations that is not supported by the Word of God. John the Baptist reminds us that although he baptized individuals with water for repentance, Jesus was coming to baptize us with the Holy Spirit and with fire (Matthew 3:11). I began to become very confused, wondering why no one could teach the Truth. There I was, a babe in Christ desperately wanting to have other believers to fellowship with and all I came in contact with were perverts, liars, and witches. Yes, there are witches in the church. Not the Church but the church.
After a while I decided to have Bible study on Sundays just to continue the studying of Scripture I did during the week. I began to notice that I was spiritually fed more through my personal time with God for at least an hour than I did from being in church for about 3 hours. I knew something wasn’t right so I told God that if He wanted me in a church, then I will allow Him to lead me there. Don’t get me wrong, there is no perfect church and although I believe we are sometimes called to eat the meat and throw away the bones, I don’t believe spending hours trying to filter false doctrine is one of them. I had visited a few campus ministries and while the sermons where trying to accommodate the diverse religions of the student body, I was frustrated with trying to decipher which part of the sermon was for me, the muslims, the religious, or for the scientologists.
I suppose many are confused about me not attending a church because we have been so brainwashed with seeking man to be the bridge between us and God. I can’t speak for anyone else but the only bridge I need between me and God is Jesus. A pastor ordained by God will reinforce and confirm personal teachings that first come from God. God may even introduce knowledge and conviction through His people to plant the seed as He prepares us for the moment when He brings it to us personally. That often reminds me of people I have known who did everything they could to converse with the most popular prophets who would visit the city. I couldn’t understand how people would run all around, spend a bunch of money, and create unrealistic expectations when wanting to hear a word from God. How is it that every prophet you see tells you about the favorable but doesn’t mention trials and tribulations? My God tells me about both Paradise and Hell and if someone else who claims to be anointed by Him can’t offer the Truth, stay away. But furthermore, I always tell people that if God wants to speak to me through someone else, God certainly knows how to make the paths of His children cross. So why would I try to squeeze beautiful lies out of false prophets? Test the spirit by the Spirit. Everything and everybody that claims to be Godly isn’t.
I will admit, some of the fault is on the Body of Christ. The light that Christ yearns to shine through us will set us apart from religion and false doctrine. Sinners and even other saints will be able to fellowship with believers as they will be drawn not to us, but to the Spirit of God that dwells within us. We need to step up. How is it that as a babe in Christ I couldn’t find a church preaching the truth in the middle of Atlanta? As big and diverse as that city is. I just thank God for protecting me from false doctrine. But what about individuals who do not yet recognize the voice of God? Too many individuals are swept into the lies pushed by Satan and my mother was one of them. God is at this very moment renewing her mind from being soaked in the poison introduced to her by Jehovah’s Witnesses. What a mighty God we serve! I had no idea how to help her understand that Jehovah’s Witnesses are a cult but God knew how to reach her. But up to this point in her life, she hadn’t come in contact with a church that what truly seeking the heart and face of God so what standard did she have?
Fortunately, there is currently a church that I have been following: Omega Ministries. Some people have asked me how they can really know if they are in the right church or if they are reading the true word of God. The best advice I can give to anyone is to first have that personal and intimate relationship with God. If you know God, He will bear witness regarding what is Him. I used an example when I was talking with my host mom yesterday. If I was an author and I had written a book but an individual had suspicion that someone was interpreting my book wrong, was tampering with my verbiage, or was misleading my children, all that individual would have to do is call or email me. It would be a pleasure for me to respond by letting that individual know either yes, the fruit of my book is being presented righteously OR that the pages of my book were being perverted by others.
Matthew 7:11(NIV): “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask Him!”
With the same emphasis shared on being a follower of Christ rather than being a follower of a denomination, we too should focus on our personal relationship with Christ rather than allowing a building to be our idol. Every church does not have the Spirit of God resting there. Everyone who claims to be a pastor isn’t going to Heaven. The loudest person running through the aisles isn’t always the most grateful. The large audience of a mega church isn’t evidence that they preach the Gospel. Satan is the god of this world and he is capable of providing his people with wealth. And everyone who claims to have spiritual gifts did not receive them from the one true living God. Aside from Sunday, what fruit are you producing from Monday to Saturday? Don’t allow the person who volunteers to help teach Sunday school and Wednesday prayer to fool you into thinking they are holier than thou. Do you feel good every time you leave church? That is a red flag within itself because the Holy Spirit won’t always make you feel good. If you aren’t living righteously expect the Holy Spirit to convict and discipline you as the Lord disciplines those who He loves (Hebrews 12:6). You aren’t clapping your hands for a pastor who is allowing a Torah to be wrapped around him are you?
We shouldn’t get too caught up with church in the sense of it being the only place where God is. My sentiments are similar to the article I had written, One in Christ. God said that when two or more are gathered in His name He will be there (Matthew 18:20). We are the Church. Christ isn’t coming back for a ton of bricks on a corner, He is coming back for His bride. As I continue to spend my personal time with God I am open to the fact that He may one day lead me to attend a church to fellowship with other believers. Sometimes God will have us in a place for a season then He will move us on. Even going to a church where God really does dwell, we still cannot gain eternal salvation through the faith of our pastor, his wife, or their children. If we want a chance for God to say, “Well done my good and faithful servant (Matthew 25:23),” we need to know Him for ourselves. Once we begin building our relationship with God and spending fervent time fasting, praying, and reading His word, He can then lead us to fellowship with other believers and witness to sinners. If the hierarchy isn’t right, the building on the corner with a wooden cross as tall as the tower of babel will sadly become our idol.
Let loose of religion and tightly grasp onto the Gospel that comes directly from the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The moment when I open my Bible and ask God to open my eyes, ears, and heart so that I may receive Him.. is when church starts for me.