There is something that has bothered me for a great while now. And it’s hard to explain, especially to anyone who isn’t a Christian, but I will try.
I spend most of my time at home. No, no, that’s not what bothers me 🙂 I gladly accept my position because I know that this is where God has placed me and I love it. I work from home and try to make it a place that’s worth being in for my family. I’m not the world’s best at cleaning house, but I’m not bad 🙂 While there are occasionally dusty picture frames and stacks of laundry that needs to be put on hangers, there isn’t anything you could consider “dirty”, thank God, that’s just how it is.
No, the thing that bothers me – first and foremost – is the fact that there isn’t a church anywhere near that I can go to. Now I know, believe me I know, that that is a loaded statement. I’ve had momentous debates on this subject with a good many people. And of course, everyone has “the perfect church that I should attend”, so they say…
Now, let me stop there for just a moment and say a few words about that. Because it’s something that really takes up a great deal of my prayer time. I often pray and ask God to show me, I mean really show me the Truth, yes, with a capital “T”, because I do not dare want to walk down the wrong path and into a teaching that will pull me further away from His will for my life, further from His Truth, or further from the true Church.
The biggest problem I have with many of the churches that I have attempted to go to is their blatant disrespect for God’s Word. (While the only one I’ve found that I feel right in attending is too far away to go to on a regular basis.) Not that they flaunt these things, and for the most part, I’m not really even sure they realize it, but many churches have a great deal of practices that go against the Word of God. They have put man’s doctrines and traditions in place of God’s and I don’t feel comfortable with it. Even Jesus spoke about it…
Matthew 15:8-10 (KJV) 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.
Mark 7:6-8 (KJV) 6 He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. 7 Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. 8 For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do.
Ok, in this last one, I think Jesus is saying look, you’re putting more emphasis on men’s tradition for the washing of dishes than you are my Word! I wonder sometimes, how many people are truly cast out, or don’t feel like they’re good enough to go to the “House of God” strictly because of these traditions of men?
I have an acquaintance that was telling about how someone told her that she was going to hell for using instruments along with her voice to worship God. Where is this in the Bible? What commandment is she breaking? How has she cast away the grace of the work of the cross by worshipping and singing with instruments? Thank God this did not cause her to lose the footing that she has in her faith in God, but she is in the minority, I do know that.
There are a lot of people out there, with an undying devotion to their “church” (notice the little “c”), who are very quick to tell people that what they are doing will send them to hell, but how much time have they put into prayerful searching of the Scripture? They may really believe that what they are saying is true, but does that release them from the obligation to speak with love to their brothers and sisters?
Now I will add here, that I do believe there is truth in knowing a tree by the fruit it bears, and there are different ways of talking to different people about what they might be doing wrong. The book of Jude says to have compassion on some, making a difference, but some, save with fear, pulling them from the fire (chapter 1). There are certain things that are wrong and can in no way be made right, and the only thing a person can do is repent and turn from that sin, and if we, as believer’s, aren’t willing to tell someone where they are, they may never even know. But that’s not exactly what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about the traditions of men that pass in churches for absolutes from God – which there are, make no mistake. Jesus said that all of the laws of the prophets hang on two commandments: Matthew chapter 22, to love the Lord thy God…and to love thy neighbor. I’m paraphrasing, of course, but if Jesus says everything can be summed up in this, what do we do with information like that?
Some of the major things I’m hung up on, that I just don’t feel I should be, and that I feel are desperately hindering my walk with God and my carrying out what He wants me to do, give me a lot of grief. I see how the Word gets twisted and how it can be misleading. I realize that, and it grieves my spirit and my heart immensely. It hurts me that each and every denomination believes that THEY are the ones who are right, and everyone else is wrong. Even if the only difference is whether or not they take the Lord’s supper every Sunday, or certain Sunday’s, or not at all.
I have always said that if it’s “in there”, meaning if it’s in the Bible, then I believe it, and if it’s not, I don’t. But there’s a little more to it than that, as it should so happen. Paul talked about a “local church”. Do we even know what that is anymore? I live right across the street from a “certain denomination” but I can’t bring myself to go there, because of their beliefs and how I feel like they think they are the only ones that are right and there is not other way to Heaven. AND I HATE FEELING THAT WAY!! That’s what it all boils down to!
I don’t want to stand on a soap box and tell everyone what they should or shouldn’t be thinking, and I don’t want to assume to know exactly what the Bible says about every little thing that we should do in a service, or in a particular venue. I DO, however, want to be assured in WHAT I BELIEVE, enough to stand up and say why. The Bible says to always be ready to give a reason for this hope that is within you. And that’s what I want to do.
I feel that if I stand my ground on MY beliefs, then I will have to understand why someone else’s belief’s are not accurate, or as dire, etc., etc. I know, that’s probably as clear as mud, but it’s the dilemma I find myself in at the moment. I am certainly no scholar of the Bible. I do not know Hebrew, Greek or Arabic, so I cannot read from ancient texts as Jesus did, and many who came after him. I can’t read the writings of Paul and others, who wrote the Truth after having been with Jesus and knowing first hand what it was all about. So I have to go by these translations, which is another thing the church fights about…
Why is one better than the others? I have been a staunch supporter of the King James Version all of my life, having been raised that way and gone to churches who adhere to that belief. And I still read from it but I can’t help but wonder…why? What started that? It was the 1599 Geneva Bible that accompanied many of our ancestors over here from England before the birth of our country. The Geneva Bible was the first true English translation of the Bible, so why isn’t IT the one that was chosen? The circumstances surrounding the writing of the King James Version are very shady, so I have to wonder if I can really trust it for deep study in searching for THE Truth.
Having said all that, I will also add that I DO believe, with all my heart, that the true and living Word of God can rise above any malicious thought or intent of man, which I believe is what happened with the King James, so I’m not AS worried about that. BUT, the fact still remains that if a person reads another “version”, some well meaning Christians will tell them how wrong they are and might possibly even tell them it will keep them from Heaven. I’m not sure I believe that… even knowing that these newer version do, in fact, leave out many verses and words that change the meanings of whole thoughts in the Bible. And I will NEVER adhere to the belief, as one of the newest Bibles attempts to say, that God was a “she” or worse, a non-gender, or gender neutral being. The Word says – no matter which translation you get your hands on, save for that one new one I’m talking about – that God is our FATHER. Plain and simple.
I also get all balled up about many of the things that make people say, “Well, that was only in the Old Testament” or “Well, that was because Jesus did it, and we can’t,” or “Well, those things went out with the apostles in the Bible…”
I know there are things in the Old Testament that we aren’t bound by anymore because the Old Testament was the place where LAW ruled. Law was never meant to save us, but rather to be a rod by which to measure the fact that we will never be good enough to attain God’s Mercy on our own. That’s why there was a sacrificial scapegoat which the priest brought out, and basically that animal took all the sins of Israel upon itself, per God’s Law, and was sent out into the desert to die, thus making atonement for the sins of Israel for the past year. BUT, Jesus became our “once and for all” sacrifice when He came to Earth in the flesh and died on the cross for the sins of each and every one of us. When he arose, he made a way for us to escape, by paying the sin-debt Himself, in our place. Once we accept that free gift of salvation and the finished work of the cross, His blood cleanses us from all unrighteousness and we become joint-heirs with Christ Jesus, and no longer citizens of this world, but of Heaven.
Another example is the Levitical law that forbids certain foods. This was abolished when God showed a sign to Peter who was praying one day before going to preach to the Gentiles (Acts chapter 10). Yes, there are many dietary and health reasons not to eat pork, catfish, shrimp and so forth, but I do not believe that doing so will send a person to hell. May God correct me if I am wrong, which is my prayer about everything that I believe…that if it isn’t the Truth and the WHOLE TRUTH that He would show me and reveal it to me and allow me to share it with others.
So what are some other things that separate churches? What makes one church different from all the others? What makes one church “right” and the others ALLL wrong?
- Taking the Lord’s supper on the fifth Sunday?
- Washing one another’s feet?
- Baptizing the THE NAME of Jesus?
- Praying to Mary and the saints?
- Wearing modest clothing?
- Women covering their heads?
- Women remaining silent in church?
- No playing of stringed instruments?
- Speaking in tongues?
- Believing in the gifts of healing, tongues, etc.?
- Believing in the anointing with oil?
There are literally hundreds more. Some are trivial, some are not, but they all separate the Body into buildings that are sometimes right across the street from one another! If we can agree that some things are tradition and some are not, then why can we not all worship in the same building and still be allowed to worship in the way that we have worked out with God? What is to be our measuring stick? And can we use that stick without eventually turning it into a rod of discipline on our brothers and sisters?
Perhaps I’m way off base, but I have felt in my spirit for a long time to write this so may the Lord forgive me if all I’ve done is stirred up dissent! I really, truly am only searching for what is right, what is from God, and what is the most important matters. I pray I am not hung up on a single “tradition of man” that would make Jesus speak to me the way he spoke to those in the quotes above.
Father, I only want to serve You, and follow your commandment to tell others about You. I only want to follow Your Truth and NOT the traditions of men. Open my eyes, open our eyes, that during these trying days when our heart’s almost fail in fear, that we will be strengthened by Your Truth and Your promises, for it truly is “good news” worthy to be shouted from the highest hilltops. And forgive me, Lord, if I have ever led anyone astray with my own depictions and versions of what I think Your Word says. Grant me the eyes to see and the ears to hear what you would say to the Churches. I will not fail to give you the glory, the praise and the honor and I ask it all in the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Proverbs 18:21 … Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.