I know it upsets some people that I do not go to church. I understand we are not supposed to “forsake the gathering together.” I want to write something about my feelings regarding church.
I tried to go to church, and I have not found one that I could attend more than three times. It’s not just a matter of traditional doctrines. I tend to take a different view of the scriptures regarding things like hell/the second death, where we go when we die, the first resurrection verses the rapture, and so on. Most importantly, I differ in the way I view the problem of sin — and in this, I cannot bend.
From my experience, the sin problem is dealt with in a few ways. Either we claim the forgiveness bought with the blood of Jesus and do not take much thought for it, or we err on the side of legalism thereby breeding hatefulness, hypocrisy, and outward righteous shows that neglect the heart. There is either an err in abuse of liberty by abuse of the sacrifice of Jesus and miss-teachings on grace, or there is oppression by way of law.
I have toured many churches, and have found NONE that preach the full gospel that promises an actual new nature by the power of the Holy Spirit working in our hearts and renewing us. It’s all about “imputation” without fruitfulness — or legalistic and otherwise fake “wild fruit” as you will see in Isaiah 5.
And the sad thing and strange thing is this. From my experience, church people can be the most hateful. The most outwardly righteous and deceptive, the most cunningly malicious and slanderous of others. Treacherous backbiters and gossips, “lovers of money, lovers of self, having a form of godliness BUT DENYING THE POWER THEREOF.”
I do not think the way we do church is what Jesus and the apostles intended. It reminds me more of Scribes and Pharisees at the temple. Exalt one man, or a few, heck, a woman too–who are filled with education from corrupt Christian systems and void of the Holy Spirit.
Sing a few songs (or ban music), listen to wanton abuse of scripture, then get the heck out of there and watch your football game. Maybe sit and eat at church once in a while and talk about what sin Suzie down the road just committed or some other worldly thing. This is not the gathering. This is not keeping the Sabbath holy. It is a perverse thing that is corrupted from the top down. The very system breeds it. Modern-day money changers, I sometimes call these “high places.”
That being said, I do not forsake the gathering together. I gather with sincere believers very often and I talk about the things of God with someone almost every day. I get more enriching fellowship outside of stone and brick walls. I think of Isaiah 66. “The heaven is my throne. The Earth is my footstool. Where is the house that you built unto me, and where is the place of my rest?” “They have chosen their own way, and their soul delights in their abomination, I will also choose their delusion and will bring their fears on them because when I called they did not answer. When I spake they did not hear, but did evil before my eyes and did choose that in which I delighted not.”
If someone wants to go to church, let them go to church. I understand that for some it is better to go than not to go, and I do not condemn people for going to church regardless of their denomination. If you say you’re a Christian, then you will be judged as one. If you say your are a church, then you will be judged as one. Look at Revelation 2-3. Not many “churches” do well. Even so, that is not my judgment, but the Lord’s, so I do not cross that line. Though many would try to tell me that I am not really saved.
For me, going to church is not profitable. My own zeal for truth and righteousness eats me up, and I get very angry. It is not good for my heart, my patience, and my love for the brethren.
We are told that God did not create man for the Sabbath, but he created the Sabbath for man. Let each be pursued in his own mind. Some of you honor one day above the rest — or a couple hours above the rest — I choose to honor every day alike.
After getting an email from a dear friend and believer, I want to make somethings clearer. Here is part of my response. I am posting it here because I think it is important to draw these distinctions.
I do not hate the body of Christ which is the church, but I do not in any way agree with the organization of “church.” I do despise it. I despise the system, but I do not hate the people. I do not even hate the big leaders or televangelists. I do understand that the Lord is judge and he is very merciful, and where are people going to go but to church? It is a problem and I do not know what the answer is, so I support those who want to go to church. Just don’t force it on me or target me when I point out how corrupt it all is.
I would not shut anyone out of fellowship for their beliefs about church or really much of anything if they say they are a Christian. I’m learning to be patient in that because I do not like division among the brethren. However, I cannot agree with something that is against the ways of truth just because it hurts someones feelings. It would not be loving for me to not stand up for this, because there are many who like me have felt that something was off about how we do church, and they get cast out and their faith is weakened. I write these things for them. The sincere believers who might get upset I hope will see that I do not persecute them and their liberty to go to church.
I do not make it a priority to bash church, but when it comes up I will stand up for what I believe is right. Even so, I also disagree with people who take an extreme stance against church. Not our place. There is a balance here, and maybe I need to mature more in this. If I did not love people I would leave the cast out without hope. If I did not have faith in Jesus then I would persecute churches. There is a healthy balance and duty in all things.