What is and what ought to be

Have you ever noticed how people talk about God, it is surprising when you realize what they are really talking about. I think it is interesting when you go to a sacramental church wanting to hear about God and you are treated to an hour long lecture about the “church” and how it’s us against them, whoever “they” are (pro-choice, gays, atheists, take your pick) and how important the clergy is in the function of the “church” and how there is only one proper form of hierarchy. If God is mentioned it is more like name dropping than informational. And then they start to talk about their favorite Saint, teacher, or the Pope, until it begins to sound like a personality cult.

So you say “Forget that!” and you go to a Protestant church and you get an hour long lecture on how important the “church” is and how it’s us against them whoever “they” are (liberals, gays, atheists, take your pick) and how very important the clergy are to the function of the “church”, except they use a code word, they use “authority”, as in you must be under authority, and of course the leaders of the “church” you are visiting, are the “authority”. And then they start to talk about their favorite teacher, until it begins to sound like a personality cult.

So then, bewildered, you figure you might as well visit the atheists, and they will give you an hour long lecture about how important it is to band together against the forces of irrationality and how it’s us against them whoever “they” are (fundamentalists, conservatives, Republicans, take your pick) and how they must keep up the struggle politically, and how important it is that they have and nurture intellectual leaders to carry them on into the future. And then they start to talk about their favorite lecturer, until it begins to sound like a personality cult.

There is a reason why these stories sound so very similar. The reason is that these organizations are all based on the strength and understanding of human beings. They are based on, to use a Christian jargon term “the flesh”.
Long ago the church left off following Jesus when missionaries would arrive at a new place and start to teach people to follow the teachings of the “church”, to look to the authority of the “church” and it’s clergy, and to trust in the sacraments of the “church”. At that point they weren’t teaching about Jesus anymore they were teaching about the “church”. Oh, His name was used occasionally to lend credence to what they were saying, but really what they were teaching people to trust in was the “church”. If you regard the stance of the organized “church” this way, it becomes easier to understand the Crusades and the various atrocities committed in the name of the “Holy Mother Church”. The burning at the stake and imprisonment of people whom today we would only consider a bit odd is made more understandable when you consider that the “church” was merely eliminating competition, there were just too many people listening to those guys.
Yet somehow despite all of the “church’s” violent efforts there have always been some people who knew Jesus, they read the Bible or had it read to them, they sought Him in Spirit and truth. It is hard to tell through the mists of time and the various comments praising and condemning that you read, but it seems that many individuals have managed to know Jesus anyway. People like Joan of Arc, Miguel de Molinos, Blaise Pascal, Jeanne Guyon, François Fénelon, Michael Servetus, Francis of Assisi, now we don’t know for certain how well these people knew Jesus or how totally correct they were, but it is fairly safe to say that their focus was on serving God and not just the “church”. Somehow despite the self serving teachings of the “church” these people came to know Jesus. Somehow in their search for God, God found them and touched them with His Spirit. Many of them however were persecuted for their faith.

The “church” has, for centuries, carefully preserved and handed down a container to us, it is the container of Tradition, and when we open it we will find that it is empty, and hollow. So what are we missing? Where is the thing that can bring a man or a woman into the knowledge of Jesus. My friends it is the Spirit, as a man’s body is lifeless without his spirit, a person is dead to Spiritual things without God’s Spirit. Each of us who intend to find and serve God in our lives, must seek Him and learn from the Spirit, the Holy one. If we are walking in the Spirit of Christ, and we are listening to Him and obeying Him, then two or three words of kindness or encouragement which we might speak to someone in passing will be more effective in God’s work than a year’s worth of sermons from some big fancy “church”.
Don’t you see, it is not, and was never meant to be, what we are doing. It is what He is doing through us. It is not about us, it is all about Him.
So speak to Him, listen to Him, allow Him to teach you, and walk with Him, in His Spirit.

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4 Comments on “What is and what ought to be”

  1. cindyinsd Says:

    Well said: It is not about us; it’s about Him–How easy it is to forget this. And how easy it is to blame Jesus for what often gets called the church–not that the remnant aren’t often mixed in there, too.

    • Nathan Says:

      Thank you Cindy,
      Yes, the remnant is pretty much scattered all over the place, and it is sad when they are led astray. Think of all the time wasted on the fundraisers and things like that. I think the most insidious thing is when some control freak pastor browbeats everyone in the congregation into some kind of uniform mass. All obedient to his whim, but that’s where the line between cult and “church” gets blurred. Anyway Praise the Lord, He is bringing us out of it, and now those once mandatory quiet times are a lot more fun.

      Bless you cindyinsd

  2. Mike Says:

    I have, off and on, been trying to read through a book by Smith Wigglesworth; ‘The Power of Faith’. I read something a few days ago that has stuck with me and comes to mind as I read your post. It’s funny how with some things you can’t really see it until you experience it. We’ve probably both seen both sides of Christianity – trying to be good enough – trying to build up the church – trying to combat evil. And then there is the side of life, out of which flow some of these things.

    I refer to it as two different sides of a line. On one side, we ‘point’ people to what we know. On the other, we ‘lure’ people to what we’ve experienced.

    And finally, the original intent of my reply, the quote from Wigglesworth:

    “For there is no man here who has power in prayer, who has power in life with God, if he is trying to keep the commandments”.

    Nice to hear from you again,

    Mike

    • Nathan Says:

      Hi Mike,
      Thanks for stopping by. Not to quibble but we could point people to what we have experienced, when we have experienced His love and grace. Of course that would be included in the deeper meaning of “knowing”. Anyway I get your meaning, too often the churchy folk are luring people into a country club experience with overtones of guilt. Yes, and we shouldn’t fight evil when we are unarmed. I have heard a liberal pastor speak of fighting evil, all he could manage was righteous indignation, that is hardly the “shield of faith”. I would not want to face the dragon with that toothpick for armament.
      There is no substitute for hitting your knees and pouring out your heart. When God sees us in that condition He will lift us up, and set us on firm ground, then we can lead others to the places we have been ourselves.

      Blessings to you Mike

      PS thanks for the Wigglesworth quote, I will have to look for that book.


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