Don’t Go to Church

Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV)

I work as a valet at a hospital, so, on a daily basis, I come into contact with many different kinds of people. I have used my time there as a learning experience of sorts. I have spent countless hours observing and interacting with complete strangers who have no physical evidence to prove that I am a Follower of Jesus. For all anyone knows, I am a typical American seeking to live the American dream. For all anyone knows, I care little about religion and am more concerned with putting food on the table and a roof over my family’s head.

As I have observed these people, one thing has been a constant: many, many people are just plain nasty. But it gets more specific than that. The nastiest people, the people with the grossest cars (cars full of trash and half-eaten rotting food and cigarette butts and weird smells) are consistently Christians. How do I know this? These cars are chock full of religious junk. Saints, Bibles, rosaries, icthus air fresheners, Christian bumper stickers. These people are showing their faith by how they decorate their car. But these people are consistently nasty. What gives? Why is this the case?

The first thing that comes to my mind is doctrine. What we teach. I believe that we are not understanding the Bible fully if all we focus on is believing the right things. Yet this is what we do most of the time. Our mindset is that as long as we believe the right things ABOUT Jesus and the Bible and hell then we are Christians and are good to go. We are saved by grace and so how we live doesn’t amount to anything. After all, isn’t enforcing rules legalism?

The second thing that comes to my mind is the issue of the Bible itself. We don’t read it. We teach that you have to believe the right things ABOUT the Bible, and that is where we stop. Yeah, we tell people to have a quiet time, but what that amounts to is reading an encouraging few words from a verse and a cheesy little story. We don’t really read the Bible. And that leads to a third issue: Jesus.

That’s right. Jesus. Jesus is the third problem with American Christianity. We don’t know Him. I’ve shown this before, but we tend to see Jesus as something like this:

But this is not what the Bible says that Jesus is like. If we actually took time to read the Bible, we would see that.

So what this all boils down to is a very big misunderstanding of the religion that we claim to be a part of. We think that believing the right things about Christianity makes us Christians. But this is just not the case. I can believe everything there is to believe about Africa, and be right on all of it, but that doesn’t make me an African. I just believe a lot of stuff about Africa, but I am still an American. In the same way, you can believe all the right things about Christianity and still be an atheist or a Muslim or whatever.

Compounding all of the above issues, is the fact that we would rather go to church than be the church. The idea of “incarnation” means little to us outside of Jesus being the perfect incarnation of God. We have no real sense that we are supposed to be the incarnation of Jesus for the world around us. This means we must speak, act, and look like Jesus. But we don’t like this notion, so we pride ourselves in going to church on Sunday and Wednesday evening and going to the little retreats that, supposedly, draw us closer to God.

Before I go any further, I want to say that I am not condemning retreats and going to church. Those things are well and good and, many times, needed. But, as Pastor Edgar said at church a couple of weeks ago,

Sunday morning isn’t supposed to get it all done for any of us.

And, I would add, retreats and a daily quiet time aren’t going to get it done either.

So what are we supposed to do? Well, 4 things come to mind.

First, we need to alter what we are teaching. Right doctrine is important, but that can’t be the end. We have plenty of Christians running around who know in their head of heads that Jesus was God and that that He died for our sins. But this just isn’t enough. Lives must be changed, not just beliefs. To quote Pastor Edgar again,

Making disciples is much more than just telling a story or getting a commitment out of people.

To make disciples, we must make followers. But followers of what? or Who?

We must seek to make people who believe right, yes, but we also must make them doers. We must make them followers of the Bible and of Jesus. Most importantly Jesus. Followers of the Bible because the most reliable accounts of Jesus are found there and followers of Jesus because He was God. You can’t follow Jesus without reading the Bible, and without following Jesus, you won’t want to read the Bible. That’s why people are satisfied with a 10 minute quickie in the morning before work: they aren’t following Jesus so reading the Bible seems like a chore. They go hand in hand.

Lastly, we need to stop going to church. Plain and simple. We need to start being the church. Jesus’ body was never used as an instrument to harm or dominate others. Jesus lived and taught two simple rules: Love God and love others. Everything that He said falls into those two categories. And, according to Jesus, loving others is just as important as loving God. Note His words:

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets. (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)

We need to start being the Church. Going to church and believing the right stuff and having our quiet times is not enough anymore. We must take that next step. Otherwise we risk grossly misrepresenting Jesus. And a misrepresented Jesus is a false Jesus and therefore not the Jesus of the Bible.

More on that last statement next time.

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One thought on “Don’t Go to Church

  1. […] apuritanmindset added an interesting post today on Donât Go to Church.Here’s a small reading:Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 ESV) … […]

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