Have you ever asked yourself the question, what is ‘religion’ supposed to be? You know, there is a Church on every corner, commercialized nearly as well as Starbucks. Each flavor has its own ideals of how Church is done, the ceremony, the structure of a service, the ideal way to dress, behave, proper community interaction, why type of music they imitate in worship, even what kind of worship is acceptable.
Yet, having removed myself from organized church and instead focused myself on Christ, Him crucified (I Cor 2:2) and His Word, a new idea has been forming in my prayers, my heart and in my devotion times. I’ve started seeking the what to do comments in the Word instead of the what not to do. I found Pure Religion.
“Pure and unblemished religion [as it is expressed in outward acts] in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit and look after the fatherless and the widows in their distress, and to keep oneself uncontaminated by the [secular] world.” – James 1:27, AMP
May 9th, 1945 – January 20th, 2017. My mother was 71 years old when I brushed her forehead and watched her take her last breath. On December 10th of 2016 she was placed on hospice care and I immediately moved her into my home. I promised her I would never leave her. Forty days later she went home with the Lord. Since, I’ve moved through different valleys and mountains of grief, unbelief, joy and happiness at her memory, but most of all learning to love like she did.
On the eve of my mothers birthday I can barely think of anything except what should I do for her birthday? I’ve decided to let this memory and lesson be my birthday present to her this year.
Recently I was introduced (by a follower of this blog) to a list of Scriptures that does a wonderful job of displaying what Jesus’ disciples were meant to look like, how they were to behave and how they modeled Christianity to the flock – the saints of Christ.
It is no surprise that leadership is often perverted, in all areas of life, secular or spiritual, even by those with the best intentions. Leaders are comprised of humans, and we know power corrupts humans, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Yet, the Scripture, if we would but study to show ourselves approved unto God, and follow it, rightly dividing it, we would be able to keep ourselves from those traps.
“Do not let yourselves be called leaders or teachers; for One is your Leader (Teacher), the Christ.” – Matthew 23:10, AMP
The idea that the Gospel (The death, burial and resurrection of the Lord) is enough to save you and I, as New Testament believers, is something of a foreign concept – to me.
Looking at the Gospel, how it was defined in Scripture, by the Apostles, most notably Paul, shows that it is not some mystery, hidden in Scripture or shrouded behind magical wards that requires certain steps to reveal – anymore. It was plainly revealed in Christ, made known to all men both by the miracles of Christ’s resurrection and the spreading of the Gospel among all nations.
So What Is the Gospel?
One of the books I’ve read twice since January of this year is The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse by David Johnson and Jeff Van Vonderen. This incredibly insightful book keeps me nodding and whispering ‘yes…that’s right’ nearly every page. Of course there is no broad brush that can cover every scenario and system, but this book does an excellent job exposing something that I had no idea existed, was so rampant, or widespread, until I left it.
What is most staggering about this topic is that we become so conditioned to the environment we are in (if you are in an abusive system), we are nearly incapable of realizing we are in a trap! We know of course know the old analogy of the Frog in the pot of water…the temperature of the water rises so slowly that the frog eventually boils to death, become accustomed over time to the temperature. This of course is an analogy and doesn’t actually work, but the principle does.
Recently my mind hovered on this verse, Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” and a question came to mind…Is Jesus not around if I’m by myself? Is my faith ineffective if I pray to the Lord when no one else is with me? If I worship God in my car while driving, or in my home office, does this mean He isn’t with me? What if there is four, five or more gathered together? Is that too much?
We of course know this isn’t true, Jesus dwells in the heart of each man and women of faith. He promised to hear the prayers of each saint. He promised that if he could clothe the lily of the valley and feed the sparrow, how much more would he care for each of his children. So then why do we use this verse so out of place? Probably because the wording fits a modern narrative.
“For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” – Matthew 18:20, KJV
The books of I & II Peter deal with the premise of falsehood often, both in leaders/teachers and the saints of God. Continuing the theme that Jesus began in His ministry, who warned that the real dangers of falsehood would come from within the flock, and mostly at the top of the flock (Mark 7:15), Peter ties on and shows how the old and modern Church became a capital investment for many, both then, and in the times to come.
“And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you:…” – 2 Peter 2:3, KJV
So far, a lot of my writing has been pretty heavily focused on legalism and my escape from it. I’ve written titles like The Commandments of Men and Are Spiritual Leaders requiring Too Much?, but I also want to recognize and focus on the fact that Christ does indeed have commandments for New Testament believers to follow.
Our Christian walk is filled with questions. Just type into Google search ‘is it ok for christians to…’ and look at all the results or auto suggestions. There is a plethora of do and do not’s, both Biblical, and an unending tide of opinion. But one thing is true, the Word.
If ye love me, keep my commandments. – John 14:15, KJV
This is a reblog of an article I read on appropriately interpreting I Thessalonians 5:22
Abstain from all appearance of evil.
As described in this article, I have ALWAYS heard this verse used in the context of avoiding situations that could look compromising, which of course is solid advice, but contextually inaccurate.
But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. – Matthew 15:9, KJV
What are the ‘Commandments of Men‘ and why did Jesus come against this topic multiple times? Are we becoming dogmatic in our congregations and not pursuing the Commandments of God adequately, through Faith, or is this just good fodder for the Liberalism vs. Legalism debate?
I will explore this topic, with some authority in my background, coming from a more ‘legalistic’ sided faith structure, and ask the question that is overlooked at times during the argument…what exactly were the Commandments of Men?