God & Church are Not Synonymous: Pt 1

I think it’s taken me near 10 years to realize, that despite the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago, most people assume church and God are synonymous. They are not.  They never have been.

It took going back through the memories of being inside the church system to realize I believed it once. It was never spoken out right, but it has always been implied.

When I started weaning away from the church system my brothers had really critical things to say to me over the smallest detail. Stupid things that have stuck with me like thorns under the skin since that time. But I think I get it now. I think they saw the way I acted at or towards church was synonymous in their mind to how I was acting or respecting (or lack of {in their mind}) towards God. Not even that  it was connected, but it was a directly linked together in a full embodiment. If I didn’t mark the sign-in sheet correctly I was mocking God, not the sign-in sheets.

I never realized that this side of Protestant Reformation that there was still such a direct correlation in the minds of the masses of church goers. I mean I know that’s how masses of pastor think. I know the people are trained to associate the two. However, I just didn’t realize how much that is the reality within the church system.

There has long been this thought that if someone leaves their local church building and gathering times, that they’ve walked out on God. For many this does happen, because there is no separation between them.

I can’t emphasize enough that God and church are not synonymous.

Sometimes it takes looking at history to realize, that something that holds a scared title isn’t always what it seems. For me, the most simplistic words that really spelled this out for me was when Jesus said: “If you were Abraham’s children then you would act like it.” (John 8:39)

God judges someone by their heart, what’s on the inside, the true character which we develop within ourselves, our true motives and intentions. God sees that clearly. If that’s how God judges us, is it any different for an institution or an assembly of people?

God knows that our true intentions and our heart cause for us to do all things that flow out of us. All of our actions. The way we perceive people comes from our heart and our inner being. I believe this is also true for any system, corporation, community, assembly.

Now in a matter of speaking, a system has no heart, no inner being. Therefore those who align themselves with any given system become the heart therein. Yet so often we trade our minds & hearts for a go-with-the-flow mob mentality. We create a system to unify and drive us to our intend goal, but often it’s not long before we sacrifice our own goals, our own drive for the sake (health and sustaining) of the system.

I see this is still the reality of something called church. I too was part of  that once.

This is the strange thing about “church”:
It starts by saying that you can have a personal relationship with God. But then the whole time is spent telling you how to interpret God, how to serve God, how to do these things through more solidly aligning yourself with the local “church” and its “ministries”.  This happens so much so, that for those who actually do learn to grow and interpret on their own, they do not become the prize pupils, but instead are consider the ones who need to be corrected, or even broken in.
My husband and I have heard multiple stories like this. We’ve both been in these situations. We know it happens everywhere. It is not an isolated event.

We also know this isn’t God. This isn’t how God works. This isn’t the relationship that God had in mind.

A healthy body works together. Period. A body with auto-immune disease attacks itself. This is not consider healthy or normal. This is considered to be something that is in need of cure and of treatments, as there is often no known cures for many auto-immune diseases. Maybe especially spiritual ones which go unidentified. 

This thing calling itself church attacks itself. Am I to believe that is the resemblance of the body of Christ?

500 years ago (and more) there was something that was calling itself The Church. It was taught that this was the one way to know God, to honor God, to get to heaven, to be safe in this life, to be a responsible admirable citizen of your country. The Church was the guardians to Truth, or so it was taught.

But there arose men and women who disagreed with this thing called The Church. They disagreed that this system was not doing what it said it was meant to do. They disagreed that this system was honestly, openly, freely leading people Truth and to God.
To them the cruelties of the opposing a well-established system were unleashed. There was no mercy for such trouble makers. We are not too far removed from this history.

As a matter of fact, we maybe standing in the middle of an era where history repeats itself. We maybe at a crux of guarding and regarding the sacred words and descriptions back unto their true intentions. System or no system, when a people want to know God and want to know truth, there is an unquenchable thirst for the authentic thing.

Yet we have seen in history that the artificial thing will defend it’s stolen/assumed throne. The price for truth is high. Very, very high. Yet for something so priceless, we’d be fools to settle for anything less than the whole truth.

We can no longer bow our necks and bear this a little further in history. We cannot continue to plow for a master who is not our God. We must consider who and what we are truly serving. What do we truly fear? Whom do we truly want to serve? Are we interested in God? Or are we interested in our own rewards and security?

God and church are not synonymous. They never have been.

But woe to you … For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.
– Matthew 23:13

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Why I Stopped Reading Most of the Bible

In my life I like to reconsider where I am and what got me here. I am here because I left another time and another place, rather literally. I’ve known what it is to move around a little bit, live in a new house, new address, new town, and smile your way through it. Several years ago, I moved home to the land of my brothers. It was time to change my scenery again. Honestly I came “home” in broken up and confused internal state of being. I certainly didn’t hid it perfect well, my disappointments and failures were known, and those around me noticed it well enough to label me as non-Christian, or fallen, or such things. I didn’t really mind at the time. I wasn’t happy with the whole program anyways. I’d come from the disillusions of an exhausted Christianity that was found wanting still. I’d learn all there was to learn. I’d done ministry. I’d failed ministries. I been known; I’d been ignored. I’d been played by the synthetic church-systematized machine and left out in dumps to find my way home… whatever and wherever that was.

God and I were at difficult place. We still acknowledge each other (so the speak), but I wasn’t really sure about the true character of God …and church systems & programs made me less & less sure. I made the inglorious move of vacating the buildings. I caught some hell for it (and still do). But I couldn’t scour through the synthetic to find enough air of truth. It was suffocating and I was totally willing to take hell over artificial perfection, which was indigestible to my soul.

I was really upset about how Christian represented God, and I couldn’t come to grips of who God was. I severed our relationship down to understanding God as Creator. I severed prayers to midnight debates. I severed the scriptures down to minimalist the Gospels only. I was definitely waiting on God to prove something. I didn’t know what but something.

Slowly I went from God only being the Creator to understanding that any creator is an artistic and even personal being. Personal remind me that the Holy Spirit is consider to be our counselor and friend, and I wasn’t going to deny that… we had some good times together in our past. Then Jesus… this was difficult. I mean, if someone wants to be Christian, as opposed to being Jewish or something else, Jesus is a necessity, but all these people who were this title of Christian (as comes from the naming Jesus Christ) really just weren’t what seemed to express Jesus. As a matter of fact, most of these people couldn’t quote Jesus some much as 5 quotes from Jesus. I heard about what St. Paul said, but Jesus was a foreign to his own religion.
Nonetheless… if Jesus matters so much, he’d have to prove it. I absorbed myself solely in the Gospel books which held the accounts of Jesus’ life, teaching, and story. No one else got a say one what this “Christianity” thing was about. It was me and Jesus going toe to toe, eye to eye. If Jesus couldn’t provide a legitimate Christianity then I was done here.

It wasn’t an over night process. Really it felt like it took forever. I had always liked Jesus before, but this Christianity stuff is so synthetic, that I serious couldn’t tell opinion from truth from ignorance. So there we were 8 months in the Gospels, over & over & over again. It took a few months to read it without Christianity-evangelical-super-filter interfering with what the words & stories were actually trying to convey. …a few painful months.

Somewhere along the line, it started to come through. I remembered that familiar silhouette of the Good Shepherd I’d heard about as a little kid. The one who likes kids, who care about the little guy, who has time for those who don’t even get recognized as important, the Good Shepherd who goes out and finds that one little straggly sheep. I remembered him. I still liked him. We began a new sort of relationship.

I realized Christianity is a religious culture didn’t have a lot of Jesus to offer, just to be really honest. To spend so much time solely in the Gospel books and just continuous read about Jesus over and over and over again. I notice a lot of things that I really loved about Jesus. Things that were lost to the systematic machine that calls itself “church”. I realized by following the rules and regulations of man-made traditions I nearly lost an age-old friendship, and the devastation of all of this has never faded to this day.

After months in just the Gospel books of the Bible, I knew I’d eventually have to step out and test the rest of the waters. I knew if Jesus could be real in the Gospels, then he’d have to be everywhere. They God that Jesus teaches of would have to be everywhere. I’d barely back to a reasonable relationship with Jesus and I knew I’d have to keep putting this thing to the test. I tip toed to the Wisdom books for a brief wandering, and then a plunged straight into the Prophet books, and then the History books. I avoided the most of the New Testament scriptures for a year or better because of the irrational abuses which we derived from them. I fell in love with the Old Testament and I made it my new home.

People had lied to me. They told me the Old Testament was scary, and that God was mean & cranky in the Old Testament. But I did find that. Spending 8 months in the Gospel books only made the Old Testament books all the sweeter. It brought beautiful tears that healed many relationship issues I’d been having with God, and it continued to unburden me from the man-made church traditions. I found God, and he was beautiful.

After a year and half or two years, I finally read not just the New Testament again, but Paul. Poor sweet St Paul had been so misrepresented by the church that I didn’t want to read him ever again, but I had too. It took Peter giving his recommendation to Paul before I even considered it (2 Peter 3:14-18).

These saints in the Bible were like old friends to me. I’ve grown up with the stories and scriptures from the smallest age, but I lost most of that when I realized how synthetic the church system is. If I’d not been willing to know truth and dig, I would have lost it all. I wouldn’t have realized how abused the Bible is in the hands of well meaning moralist people.

Unfortunately I can’t ever just leave things be. I had to know truth. I was willing to take the cost and condemnation. Precious friendships don’t just get thrown away and forgotten forever. Truth doesn’t just get thrown away and forgotten forever. There is a compelling need for more than man-made traditions and good-on-paper doctrine. To sacrifice Jesus to the modern Christianity is way too much to pay for a little hope and sparse community. Give me Jesus and keep your religion to yourself.

I need truth.