Why Leaving Church Might Be The Best Thing You Can Do For Your Spiritual Life
According to the news, recent polls say that a number of people are leaving their churches and designating that they have no affiliation with any church or religion.
Well it’s no surprise.
In the past few decades, various Christian churches have given their nods to politicians and voiced their unhappiness with the sins of the country. They have become a group of loud, angry complainers and whiners.
In the past it was the norm for Christians to be considered gentle, kind, faithful, peace loving and humble, even almost boring. But the generation of the 70s ushered in the "ME" Generation that grew up and became "Me" pastors, ministers and church leaders, passing on their self-centered egos to their flock and creating a new generation of spoiled Christians who want everything THEIR WAY.
Today we have Christians who live in luxury, carry guns and protest angrily claiming persecution, that their freedoms and privileges are being stomped on. I guess they have forgotten about all the Christians throughout history and today who are REALLY persecuted for their faith by imprisonment and death.
They are no longer the meek, cheek turning, self-sacrificing, silent wimpy victims of yesteryear as taught by Jesus Christ.
Instead some Christians have interpreted Bible verses about being a spiritual warrior for God (Ephesians 6: 10-20) to mean they have permission to make threats, resort to violence, arm themselves and start fights with anyone that bothers them: atheists, gays, immigrants, Muslims, politicians, etc.
Not all churches agree with them you say? Well if not, then why won't any of these Christians speak up against their militant brethren?
Well people should RIGHTFULLY leave the church, because this way of "worshiping" God is lacking in one fundamental element: LOVE.
The whole reason that Jesus came to earth, the very essence of Christianity is to reconnect and come closer to God and each other, through LOVE, the main tenet of Christianity.
"Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love." - 1 John 4:7-8
The purpose of any church of God is to bring this message of salvation, healing, forgiveness and encouragement to all people. The message that God loves us and asks us to live in the way He has always wanted us to live- in LOVE.
Yet so many churches today tell their members to take control of the Heathen World around them and fight the perceived enemies of God. Instead of love it is about fighting. Today they are crying about the War on Christianity or the War against Religious Freedom or War against Marriage....ahem...who is declaring this war anyway? It sounds like someone is trying really hard to pick a fight.
And then we have churches that regularly attempt to scare their members about the END TIMES. Nations against nations, kingdoms against kingdoms, wars and rumors of wars, etc. But the very reason the End Times comes is because LOVE is not there.
"Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold" - Matthew 24: 12
By psyching out their members to prepare for the end of the world, they distract them from what is happening in the world NOW. Instead of working to help solve the pain and suffering in the world with love and charity, their members watch out for themselves, contributing nothing. Their love has gone cold.
The church should always be to a place of refuge and must put forth God's Love to fight the darkness of the world to bring hope and healing. It must be a place where the unloved will find hope and love, the hungry will be fed and the sick will be cared for. But instead so many churches create members who just look out for sin: "Look, sin is there and there and over there!
This only creates more fear, more separation, more paranoia and more isolation.
"The sinners will get you. Don't trust the government, don't trust the teachers, don't trust the scientists, don't trust the president, don't trust anyone!"
So all that happens is their members run and hide to find comfort only in themselves. They never venture out to spread God's love because they are too afraid of sinful outsiders.
"But the man who had received one bag went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master’s money." Matthew 25:18
Well this is not what Christianity is about.
And thankfully people, especially young people, are able to see through this fear driven, paranoid, self promoting, manipulating madness, because Jesus in NOT IN ANY OF IT.
Jesus is NOT about fear mongering. Jesus is NOT about pointing fingers at sin and sinners and Jesus is NOT even about SIN!
Jesus about giving LOVE to UNDO the damages of SIN.
Jesus IS about LOVE. Forgiveness, healing, reconciliation, helping and giving...LOVE. Especially Love in ACTION.
The Devil has gotten his paws on the church now and isn't letting go.
As a gay person, I saw this a long time ago. I decided to leave when they told me that God condemns gay people. It didn't jive in my heart that the Creator who created me would then condemn me for being who I was.
My only recourse was to leave the church and it was the best thing I ever did because now I was on able to talk to God personally, without the church interjecting their interpretations into my conversations with God. I had to use my brain, my heart, my soul and my free will.
Instead of listening to the pastor, other members or celebrity holy rollers telling me what God thought about me, I was able to ask God myself. And so I listened for God’s voice.
It took a long time for me to kick out the voices they implanted in my brain that kept interrupting the Holy Spirit, but I finally was able to hear His Voice clearly and understand that God is LOVE.
He taught me how to distinguish between who was real and who was fake. He taught me the difference between following the church and following Him.
The church tried to make me believe that everything they were saying was commanded by God, but I saw through them. I could see very plainly that their ways of doing things could at times be contrary to love, contrary to compassion and contrary to mercy.
They taught Jesus, but then did the opposite.
"So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach." - Matthew 23: 3
“Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. - Matthew 7:15-20
'I have heard and seen their pettiness, their legalistic gnat straining, their need to be right no matter what, their lack of humbleness and their "I WONT BUDGE" hissy fits, laced with dire warnings, shutting down conversations and always having the final word way of dealing with people who were only trying to seek the Truth.
God showed me the difference between a false minister who is shamelessly promoting himself and true servants of God who serve humbly through charity, compassion and goodness without asking for anything in return or speaking a bad word.
Well churches can't help it. Just operating a church, an organized community, requires money, rules, and standards so when people come around asking what they are about, they have a creed that answers all their questions and clarifies everything. They MUST to be able to explain everything they believe in so everything is perfectly clear.
Many churches will say they are Bible based, yet the very way that they accuse others of not being right with God and say only they have the Truth is evidence that they may not be listening to God.
God is not contained in one group or one denomination or one church. God is in love with every person He has ever created.
But alas many churches use their rules and doctrines to keep people in line so they won't ask too many hard to answer questions. I guess this is the only way for a minister to corral a large amount of people in an organized fashion so they are easier to handle with minimum chaos.
We live in a divided world and no one follows all the rules exactly, but you can’t send everyone to hell and the fact that any pastor thinks they can do so...reveals an ego that is trying to outdo God!
So let it be known: God is LOVE and His love breaks out against all manmade rules and definitions and cannot be contained.
God reveals Himself to all who seek Him diligently and it is through deep fellowship with Him that any person can come to know God regardless of who they are or where they have been.
And the best way to get to know Him is to start talking to Him. Only then can He fellowship with us and bring us closer to Him. We have to want to know Him. When we fellowship with Him we will learn that the only rule God has for us is to LOVE.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” - Matthew 22:36-40
No one can comprehend or even come close to knowing the awesomeness of the Holy God until he comes to meet God personally.
A mortal pastor or minister who tries to control His members with threats, hell-fire, damnation, ultimatums and fear (all of the Devil's favorite tools) is going against the very nature of a loving God.
Churches these days tell their members how to think, act, avoid outsiders and kick out those who don’t follow their rules to their satisfaction. But these are not the ways of God.
Churches must create a loving atmosphere where people can discover God, honor Him, learn and nurture their spiritual journey with Him. There will always be disagreements and division within a church, but they must be met with respect, honor, grace and love.
As a gay person I HAD to leave the church. Their attitude of OUR WAY OF THE HIGHWAY drove me away.
So I did leave.
One of the major problems with being a regular church member is that chances increase that you will cease from exploring God on your own. It is easy to just sit back and let everyone else do the work, teach you lessons, provide all the answers, while you alone just sit, listen and do nothing.
And when you have a large group of people who just sit back, listen and then parrot what their minister tells them without questioning, doing research or soul searching on their own, you get a mob of like-minded people who may or may not be right, depending on who is programming them.
Leaving the church allowed me to be free to find God on my own at my own pace, taking one step at a time. During that time I searched the Bible and search my heart. I made many mistakes, I stumbled a lot but learned some very important lessons. I also had many heated arguments and tears with Him, but through it all, I decided by my own free will that I couldn't live without Him. So I came back to God and realized that He was OK with me being gay because it was never an issue with Him.
When I left the church I left their demand that I believe exactly as they did, and I left the pressure from the other members to be exactly like them. I no longer had to ACT THE PART of a devoted Christian to satisfy them.
Leaving the church allowed me to refocus my eyes on Him and find the answers for myself and discover what a relationship with God was REALLY ALL ABOUT. It was my personal journey with Him that changed everything. Leaving the church was the best thing to ever happen in my life with God because I was free to think on my own without interference.
I explored what life was like without God. I had to see and feel what it meant if I did whatever I wanted. I had to live with the ramifications of when I did unloving things and how I hurt many people. I was able to see how my actions and words contributed to the current world of sadness, loneliness and distrust. I came to understand the emptiness of living a life away from God and after all of that, I finally admitted that I needed Him. When I made the conscious decision to let God back into my life (yes God never forces Himself in) He was able to pour His love into me and I experienced His love again and realized that I could not live without Him.
Of course during those times when I was away from church, there was the possibility that I would never return to church again. I became comfortable with just sleeping in Sundays and just doing my own thing, no different than the other days. But as time passed, I noticed that I was starting to lose touch with God. I was too immersed in my own nonsense and not hearing the Word every Sunday or prayers being said or having a time devoted just for Him, only moved me further away from Him.
So believe it or not, I attend church again.
Now I go to worship God with my heart and be with other folks who also believe and seek God. I am not there to judge or compare myself to anyone else or pretend to be something I am not, but I go because it is the time every Sunday when I stop all my other activity and focus just on Him and give Him what He deserves: honor, praise and thanksgiving.
Of course, no church is perfect but I now allow them to be imperfect. I understand what they are trying to do and despite all the flaws, they are just people trying to do their best and that is ok with me.
I always hope that whichever church I go to will be a welcoming place that all people can honor God, be nourished spiritually, have the heart to love unconditionally and do the work to minister to each other and the world.
This is how a church should be.
© 2016 Edrick
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