Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Pleasing and Acceptable: Allowing the Word of God to Define the Definitions - Intro/Preface



"And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all He has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice - the kind He will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him." Romans 12:1 (NLT)

Introduction

After I finished writing the Guardians and Gates portion of the Paradise Returned study, I couldn't seem to shake the reality that so few seem to understand what is required to enter into God's most holy place. Christianity has become a social club of sorts that anyone can apparently walk into and be a part of. While I want to be clear that all are invited to come to Jesus Christ, the Savior, there are criteria that must be met in order to live a lifestyle that is deemed acceptable and approved in God's sight.

Does our commending of ourselves or of others really affect whether or not one is truly approved?

2 Corinthians 10:18 states, "For it is not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends."

How does one who is in Christ even become approved before the LORD? Does approval just happen when one is born from above?

In 2 Timothy 2:15 Paul encourages us to, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth."

Diligence always requires ongoing activity, so we can easily discern that there is a process that we must be in. One's attention might be a little more alerted if we turn this Scripture around and say it this way: "If you're not diligent to present yourself approved to God and are spiritually lazy, you will be ashamed for you have inaccurately handled the word of truth."

Well what are we to be diligent in? What does a workman even do? Do we really have to live differently than the world to obtain God's approval? Could even the Christian majority actually be completely missing what God defines as Christianity? I'd like to pose some personal thoughts on these questions and more, all via what I have found in the Word.

Overview/Preface

Today, religious organizations try so hard to just be "inviting" and look like everyone else, there is simply little to no distinction between the world and the religious anymore. For years, I was as guilty as anyone. As a youth pastor, I thought surely the only way kids would ever come out would be if the room looked cool and the environment was inviting. We needed the best sound system the church's lousy youth budget could provide. I'd use my own money to buy paint and other items, just to make everything as hip as I could. We'd have the latest "in" worship songs and I'd even, on occasion, use popular movie clips for my message illustrations. Surely THIS will get them interested, right? Why did I do all of these things? Because, just like every other church staff member I ever knew, I believed that "if we could just get them in the door they'll come to Jesus". Looking back, I sure see that I was greatly ignorant and na├»ve. What made us stand out? What made us more than just a social club for youth? Sure we'd have prayer gatherings each week, that no one else would come to. Sure, we'd ask for prayer requests… and get updates on Aunt Martha's broken toe. Sure we'd read the Word and I'd challenge them week in and week out… but it NEVER produced lasting change. Why? It was all vain efforts! In our work, in our planning, in our weekly events, we constantly overlooked one simple fact – Jesus, The Christ would be the absolute only One who could produce any eternal results. We tried it all – car washes, free food tables on busy streets, door to door evangelism, Christmas carol singings, public Nativity scenes, youth rallies, concerts, on and on and on…. for what? It was just fleshly efforts producing fleshly results. Good intentions or not, I greatly missed the mark.

Now I know what some of you who "attend church" are thinking… well, not in MY "church". We do "this" and we do "that" and we do it ALL for the glory of God. (sigh) I have been there. I was neck deep in it all. If you had asked me why I did what I did for years, I would have told you the best explanation you'd ever heard. I would have fully convinced you that I was in the dead center of God's will for my role in the "church". But the fact is, I was blind. I was ignorant. I was oblivious to what the Body of Christ was and did not even know the elementary teachings for myself. I was displeasing to God because we were all doing it how WE saw best, instead of how He deemed so. Looking back, I hesitate to even confidently state that I was born again – and I was a leader, a teacher, an example. Was trying enough? Was "just doing our best" enough?

While I know that there are organized groups out there that truly don't desire to get all wrapped up in religion, 99.9% still end up there. It is just what Christians do. It is absolutely understood that if you are a Believer, you "go to church", you help the poor (maybe), you tithe and you attend enough services and programs to be approved, either in the eyes of men or in the eyes of God. Both approaches are gravely in error when done out of such a confused origin.

Who doesn't care what men say and only seeks what God desires? Who hears and heeds what He asks for? Who fashions and forms their "ministry" out of His plans and not out of their own ideas? Few. I don't care how many "church" programs and agendas you can rattle off, you can debunk nearly all of them when you use the Word alone to scrutinize them. Is this harsh? Possibly, but who else is challenging what "normal" Christianity is pushing? I cannot personally remember any ministry that we did within the organized system that was not, at its origin, set in place in order to "get people to church". Outreaches, revivals, concerts, even salvations were all to lead to one thing – church membership. I have seen first-hand that with this mentality, the entire system is flawed.

"Well what do we do then Joel?", you may ask. "We'd might as well just dig a hole and crawl in it!" No my friend, there is something we can do. We can turn back to the Word! We don't need more revivals. We don't need another reformation. We don't need new ideas and new programs. We simply need to return to what God gave us in the first place in His Word. Does the Body not see that It is alive? Do those within the Body see that there is more revelation and truth within Its pages to radically change ones entire life?

It is time we start reproducing Christ, not Christians! It is time we stop passing along religious traditions, doctrines and denominational ideals and reproduce biblically born from above Believers in Jesus, The Christ!

If the Body laid down all of their self-help books, Sunday School planners, VBS curriculums, sermon catalogs, financial courses, discipleship lectures, soul-winning manuals, marriage counseling classes, daily devotionals and pep rally for Jesus conferences and ONLY looked to the Word of God, I truly believe that true Christianity would flood over the entire globe! Let me be completely transparent. You may write this off as prideful if you wish, but please read all of what I'm about to say before you do. For the last three years now, I've consistently had people write me and ask how I understand the Word like I do and how I find what I do within It. You know how? It could not be more simple - I study the Word! The Spirit is my Teacher. Christ is my Head. The Word is my primary Source and Ability – I rarely ever look into any other book, commentary or opinion. I'm not highly educated, nor did I attend college or seminary. In fact, I didn't even excel in high school! It is absolutely all due to the LORD alone! He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him, right? What is the reward? Riches, fame, mega-ministries? No! The reward is knowing Him! The reward is uncovering His mysteries within His Word! The reward is receiving first-hand revelation that no man explained to you. He is our great reward! Some say that I'm close-minded or foolish for not formally "sitting under" others. I say, the more "opinions" I eliminate, mine included, the more likely I am to hear what the Spirit has to say about the matter. This is not contrary to Scriptures that state that there is wisdom in the counsel of others for I don't isolate myself from other godly Believers. While I will never eliminate interaction with others and learning from where they have been or what the LORD is speaking to them, He alone is my primary Source. He is my primary Teacher.

The average Believer simply does not seem to believe that the Word of God can be revelatory to them personally. They have little, if any expectation of Its transformation power. They do not understand that you cannot know Jesus, The Christ intimately unless you are intimately acquainted with the Word. How do I know this? He is the Word! Jesus was what? The Word made flesh! They are completely inseparable. When I sit down to study, It illuminates me! It conforms me into His image! It awakens my innermost being! I move further into who I am in Him each and every time I willingly choose to enter in. Every time, my friend, every time. I cannot get enough. Don't people see? Everything that we need is There! I don't need to run to the latest movement, the latest "in" thing or hear another sermon to know what the LORD is saying! He tells me! Do you hear me? The LORD Himself tells me what He is saying! Why would I ever trade that in for second hand knowledge? Never!

If it sounds like I'm adamant about this, you're quite right. This attitude, this belief, this fervor is what has led me to my next study. It is error to believe that any and all can just approach the holy of holies where God dwells (see Part 2 of Paradise Returned for more). There is criteria to be met. There are stipulations and rules. God is holy and men, in themselves, are fallen, unholy and vile. This is not to say, in any way, that all cannot come to Jesus, the Christ. In fact, coming to Him is the only way to get into the holy place. As the Paradise Returned study examined, He is the only Gate. He is the only Door. It is time we allow Him to tell us what He requires of us. I am addressing those who are in Christ and desiring to worship and know the LORD intimately. Are you willing to look at what He desires and what He deems as acceptable? Man's ways and ideas will not be enough to grant anyone access in. Nor will good intentions, for some of the most self-less, giving, wonderful people that I know know not Jesus, the Christ as LORD.

I am thoroughly convinced, based only on what I see and hear, that the majority of the Body lives Christian lives directly opposed to Hebrews 12:1, which states, "For the Law, since it has only a shadow of the good things to come and not the very form of things, can never, by the same sacrifices which they offer continually year by year, make perfect those who draw near."

The law was only the shadow, the precursor of what was to come in Jesus, The Christ, the anointed Messiah. We are now to live as Christ, subject to what He set in place via His death and resurrection. Those who choose to live according to the shadow (the Law) can never be made perfect. It is says this plain and simple! So why then does nearly every Believer live this way? If you base your success upon how you keep the 10 commandments or efforts of ritualistic worship and service, you don't stand a chance! No one does! We must reside under the covenant of Jesus, the Christ. That is the entire purpose of God's plan of redemption!

Paul seemed to understand this as we see in Romans 8:3: "For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh."

"For, on the one hand, there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness (for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God." Hebrews 7:18 and 19

My question is, how has the Body become convinced that the LORD is actually pleased with all of our fleshly efforts as they live as if they are under the old law? Is there even a way to know what God really wants from His children? Here's a crazy suggestion. Let's allow the Word of God to define three general issues within the Body! First, we'll look at tithing so the offended can just get it over with and move on. Secondly, I'd like to address worship. Lastly, we'll see what the Word says of our traditional Body gatherings.


22 comments:

Harriet said...

>>The reward is knowing Him! The reward is uncovering His mysteries within His Word! The reward is receiving first-hand revelation that no man explained to you. He is our great reward! <<

amen and amen and amen

what more IS there?

except then we can also know each other and move as one..being led By Him.

excellent as always Joel! I am looking forward to more. Your words are an encouragement, in these days, when there is little enough of THAT around.

Alan Knox said...

Yes, we must turn back to the Word - both the written word and the risen Word. We need both. But, unfortunately, we rely on too many other things. Why? I think because it's easier to trust things we can control and understand. It's much, much harder to trust the Spirit completely.

In most things, the written word does not answer all of our practical questions, which forces us to rely on the Spirit (the risen Word) or to rely on our own understanding.

I'm looking forward to your 3 topics.

-Alan

Mishi said...

I think you do learn from the Word but I think you misstate that the scriptures are the Word. The scriptures themselves don't even make this claim about themselves. They are the writings of people who learned from God. Just as your writings are from someone who learns from God. There is only one word and it is the Christ! He, alone, is the Word. That is why so many can sit down and read the scriptures and get no closer to knowing or understanding Truth. Because they did not have THE WORD to reveal Truth to them.

I do believe the scriptures are valuable and God does use them when speaking Christ to us but He is never limited to them. That is why Paul and the other apostles did not tell the newly converted people (the ecclesia) to study the jewish books and law to know God. They already had all they needed. They had the Spirit to teach them. And how does He do this? He does as we walk in relationship with Him. It's that simple! Praise God!

Daughter of Wisdom said...

I am so glad I found your blog. Your insights are remarkable. It just shows that when a person allows God to take control, one can have an intimate relationship that surpasses everything and anything this world has to offer, and that satisfies the soul.

I agree, church has become ritualistic. It has become a substitute for a true relationship with God for many. We go there to fellowhsip with other believers and to learn more about God, but sometimes the way the programs are organized, it is little better than a social club, and a how-to seminar that gives us good practical advice but lacks the power of the Spirit.

Joel Spencer said...

Harriet: Knowing Him is the reward... I could just think on that all day long. I hope that people will grasp that for He is more than enough!

Alan: Well said. I think that your comment, although posted before Mishi's, would be a great reponse to His comment.

Glad to see you here!

Mishi: I believe that the written Word and Christ are inseperable. I believe they are completely one. As I have said previously here, one cannot intimately know One without the Other.

I agree, one must know the Christ to fully understand the revelations within the written Word. Head knowledge is surely not what I am suggesting we seek.

Welcome!

Daughter: Thanks for the kind words. I lately feel like I have little of this truly in my life, but am moving forward nonetheless.

As I'll address in the "Gathering of the Body" section, many believe that they must "attend services" in order to fulfill our need to fellowship. I, however, believe that it actually limits what we are really to be doing as the Body... but more on that later.

Deborah said...

You have a contagious passion and it's quite inspirational. I enjoyed this blog tremendously and agree with what you've shared with us. I look forward to the next post.
Blessings...

Mishi said...

Thanks for the welcome. :)

Why do you believe you cannot know Christ without the scriptures? Did Father tell you this?

Joel Spencer said...

Deborah: Contagious passion... I like that! I just don't know what else to be more passionate about (except perhaps trout fishing.) ;)

Joel Spencer said...

Mishi: I'm not sure where you're headed with this as it's a fine line of exact wording that gets tricky. I know that I am a sinner, separated from God. Jesus, the Word made flesh, died for me on a cross and rose again because the written Word of God revealed it to me. I know what took place in me as a born fron above Believer because of what the written Word of God tells me. I know what is to come via prophecies within the written Word of God.

To be as specific as possible in response to your latest question - can one come to a place of salvation in Jesus, The Christ without knowing Scriptures? Of course. Can one intimately know the LORD and spiritually mature without studying Scriptures? In my opinion, no.

Are we headed the right direction here?

David Hopper said...

Hello

My wife and I have been reading your blog for a few weeks now and I had some questions about some different ideas that you bring up. Instead of listing out each one, I'm just going to just write out what I feel like the bible says about salvation and the christian life and let you just respond to that.

To start out, I agree that being a christian isn't just about realizing you did a bunch of bad things and then trying to be good. I agree that our lives are to reflect that of Jesus's and importantly, the intiment relationship he has with the Father. I also agree that Jesus is the gate to which we get to God.

I guess the part of what is required of us to enter into the gate is where I differ.

We are allowed to enter the gate because of Jesus's death on the cross. His death is what justifies us before God. Not any amount of work can do that, inluding the work of trying to have an intimate relationship with him. We draw close to God, not to BE saved, but BECAUSE we are saved.

It seems like to me, and if I am reading your words wrong, then I'm sorry, but that you state that we must draw close to God in an intimate relationship with him in order to BE saved. Like I said, this is just how it appears to me.

When we realize that we have lived lives in rebellion to God, we are called to repent and be saved. In repenting, we are turning away from our old lives, and die to ourselves. Jesus offers us his life (a life of holiness) for our lives (a life of sinful rebellion) Its in that that when God looks upon us, he sees his son and by that we are justified to him.

NOW, none of this means that once we are saved we do whatever we want. Like I said, the scripture says we are to repent, turn away and die to ourselves and be sanctified, But the life we live, we live BECAUSE of what Jesus did. Living the life of holiness and intimacy with him is only possible because he frees us from our sin and gives us a new heart.

The bible says that salvation is a free gift so that no man may boast. That includes not being able to boast in how close we try to be with God.

When someone asks us why we are going to heaven, just like we can't say, "oh its because I try and be a good person" we also can't say "oh its because I tried to be as close to God as I could".

We can only say, "its because I'm justified to God because of Jesus's blood washing over me and everything I do now, is because of that."

NINA said...

I am so ready to read the rest of this. I know this is the spirit of the Lord because its as if you were sitting at my dining room table listening to a conversation I was having with my sister 5 minutes ago. I have gotten to the point where I am getting fed up with traditional church period. My eyes have been opened and those things that used to seem "right" and necessary just leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I prayed to God and asked Him "what is this?" What is this sudden borderline "annoyance" with what I used to view as the things of God. I just want to be right and pleasing in his sight so I asked him to fix me or fix it.I want my son to be a part of something and experience "church" as I did as a child because it has its benefits. But I find myself disgusted by the protocol and traditions. Sometimes I feel like I might as well just continue to feed him spiritual food at home and let him join the boy scouts.:)What we know as church just is not cutting it. It is not enough. It is not clean enough, it is not pure enough, and it is not enriched with the unadulterated word.We as the people of God have a right and a responsibility to establish "the church" , the kingdom of God outside those for walls.It's time for us to stand up and be non-traditionally what God called us to be. The real pastor's are not always found in churches(smile) the greatest evangelists are not always on television , and the greatest teachers are not in the classroom. The truth is that everyone is not mature enough to get a word directly from God so they need guidance until they reach that point. There are sinner's out there that need real evangelists; Not just the one's who hang around the offering pans in the churches.There are lost sheep who need to be found. The dieing world does need prophets and baby believer's do need teachers.Some of us are pastor's who tend to sheep and we don't even realize it. :)
"And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head-Christ- from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love." Ephesians4:11-16 THIS SUMS ALL OF YOUR BLOGS UP IN A NUTSHELL!
........I"M just saying...(smile)

natalie said...

Great Stuff Joel! I cant wait to read the next part. Those are some of things that I have been wondering about lately. What you say in your blogs reminds of a passage I read in a book:

We are spending more money on ministry than ever before, yet our churches are in decline. "Worship" alone is a multi-millioni dollar industry with its own celebrities--there is even an annual award ceremony to honor the most "successful" worhsip leaders. Meanwhile, Christian books top the New York best sellers list; we have conferences, programs, training courses, kids' camps, and a myriad of ministries...
But I sometimes imagine a Middle Eastern carpenter stepping into this spiritual frenzy(every last stitch and symbol conducted in His name), and as He looks around, smiling sadly at the crowds-- all that aching desperation gathered in some vast exhibition center--
He issues a simple invitation: "Anyone," He begins, His voice echoing slightly around the auditorium, "who does not carry his cross and follow me, cannot be my disciple"(Luke 14:27).
And with that, He turns His back on the booths, the huddles, the multicolored banners saying "smile Jesus loves you!" and disappears through the narrow door at the back of the building. And I wonder how many will follow.

Natalie : )

Joel Spencer said...

David: I have read your comment twice and cannot find anything that I disagree with. To my knowledge, I have never insinuated that one can earn salvation. What I do repeat often is what takes place after we enter through Jesus, the Christ (the Gate). Upon entering, intimacy does not just happen. Perhaps this is what has been mistaken for "earning salvation".

My hope, my deliverance, my wholeness is in Christ, not in my works. What few seem to understand though is that salvation is to be the beginning, just as a marriage. After being born from above, I should daily strive to know my Husband more and more. Not out of obligation or duty but out of a desire to reciprocate the love that I have been given.

I'm always saying works and efforts are not enough, so I must admit I'm kind of baffled as to how one might think I push a works-based salvation. As you say, it is a gift that our Father has given based nothing upon my deeds or efforts.

Thanks for your questions - they will always be welcome here.

Joel Spencer said...

Nina: I hate to tell you what you likely already know, but once you know what you know, it's going to be hard to just be OK with the traditional "church" system, on any level.

Just so you know, I caught your subtle "pastoral" reference. ;)

Asking God to give you direction....

Natalie: That analogy is likely all too real. May we do what we can to shed light on what the Scriptures say in regards to true Christianity and redefine what this generation knows it to be.

Thanks for sharing!

Valerie said...

I sometimes imagine a Middle Eastern carpenter stepping into this spiritual frenzy(every last stitch and symbol conducted in His name), and as He looks around, smiling sadly at the crowds-- all that aching desperation gathered in some vast exhibition center--
He issues a simple invitation: "Anyone," He begins, His voice echoing slightly around the auditorium, "who does not carry his cross and follow me, cannot be my disciple"(Luke 14:27).
And with that, He turns His back on the booths, the huddles, the multicolored banners saying "smile Jesus loves you!" and disappears through the narrow door at the back of the building. And I wonder how many will follow.

Natalie, that is absolutely awesome - I have spent this afternoon thinking on that, how true it is.

Joel, hope you don't mind me commenting on others comments!! It's great to hear what others are saying. (Do you know how hard it is not to read this article - I'm saving it for when we're away.)

Oh Nina, I know exactly where you're coming from - for me it got to the stage it was either the "church" or my relationship with Father. No compromise for me.

Joel Spencer said...

Valerie: Don't you go giving anything away now! ;)

Please comment on other comments - dialogue between readers is welcomed and desired!

Mishi said...

I would suggest to you that the scriptures did point you to Christ but it was revelation from Christ that allowed you to see the Truth. I used to think as you did about the scriptures but Father has had to teach me not to put too much weight on the scriptures. He even had to take them away from me for a season.

Paul, who had (what we call) the old testament, also knew about God but didn't know Truth until Christ was revealed to him. Revelation is worlds apart from knowledge. And revelation can only come from the Spirit (God).

Just some things to ponder. I do see that the Father is teaching you many things and I enjoy reading what you learn. :)

Joel Spencer said...

Mishi: I feel like we're saying the same thing but just wording it a bit different. I too believe that Christ is the One who reveals the written Word of God.

I don't simply seek knowledge but the revelation of the illuminated Word, which, as you said as well, can only come via the Spirit.

rave.n said...

Joel,

This is pretty powerful and really stretches me. Especially since you know that I've been involved in many "church outreaches".

I'm glad you'll be addressing church gatherings because I do feel that we're still called to gather together like the church in Acts. However, I'm increasingly aware of the balance that needs to happen in such gatherings.

Christians can't just come to be fed once a week, or however often they meet, but must also continue to feed themselves.

It is heartbreaking - and it just waste time - to see people just reading passages for the first time together when we could have all arrived with insight to share.

Joel Spencer said...

Raven: The Body Gatherings stuff should be up Thursday/Friday. It is the longest of the three parts in this series as I can't seem to say it all enough.

We are to gather, without any question. But not just as we would to watch a movie or to see a concert. It is time for others to see that they are a valued and necessary part of the Body!

thehoov143 said...

I seem to late on this series, but there is alot going on.
Joel, i am with you on some of this but not compltely.

I attend one of those mega churches with 20,000 weekly attenders, video sermons, rock band worship with smoke machine HD cameras etc. The churches Mission if you will is to "Lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ." Now i know i have heard that from alot in the church body and it hasn't been true it has been oh let's go to service so we can FEEL good, or FEEL close to God. As you have stated we don't need the highly technological service to help us be with God or have a right standing with God. The reason a church like Northpoint does things the way they do is not just to give a great expierence, but to move people from the aisles and rows, to circles in living rooms. Small Groups living expierencing life together.

I feel that though Sunday isn't the end all of all when it comes to being a believer, but when you have been burned by the church, or have a jaded view of believers to begin with. That environment where you can come not be center of attention, and attend something comforting, inviting and challenging. But then move to a smaller group environment so you can learn, do, and become the person God wants you to be.

I hope that has made sense. I know alot of the church just panders to the cool graphics and fun worship to make it fun and get people in the door so they can swipe their debit card for their tithe.

Joel Spencer said...

Hoov: Glad to see you stop by. I know we'll greatly disagree on this point. Some of the difference is that I'm looking back, years later, at sitting in the same building that you now sit in. (You likely remember that K and I went to NP for a year or so.) I just see it all as unnecessary. I see pictures of the stages and stuff now and it just makes me cringe. I don't know whether I'm looking at a "church" or the latest pop icon concert. My concerns however run much deeper than how millions are spent on environmental "stuff" to "attract" seekers and keep members cozy.

I understand that they promote the small gatherings, but how many really ever make it to that point? In all of the services we attended there, we may have had 2 or 3 couples at most ever say more than good morning. We tried to get "connected" with smaller groups but it was just too hard (part of it was due to how far we lived from the campus). And for those who do make it into a small group, is it just another Bible study or is it ekklesia life described in the Word? There are vast differences.

Let me explain it like this. Let's assume I had a goal of you and Amy coming over to our house. If it were up to me to get you into our driveway, I would give you directions that take you right to the door. It would not make sense to take you 30 miles out of the way, to someone else's house, then to a gas station and grocery store. I would lead you right to the destination.

If small gatherings are the entire goal, why not make that what it is entirely about? I know the entire mission is to "ease" people into the Gospel but I just don't see it that way. Too many just never make it. Everything is about people being comfortable and unoffended in any capacity.

Organized religion, especially the mega churches, all cater to us, and that is absolutely not what the gatherings of the Body are to be about. Comfy seats, perfect lighting so you can worship easier, coffee bars, big screens, smoke and mirrors, million dollar sound systems.... it is all about making us feel good and providing us with an experience.

Is this what we see when Jesus taught about what the Body is? Is this what we see in Acts? Is this what all of the Epistles refer to as Body gatherings? I just don't see it.

It's easy. It's comfortable. You go as far as you want and noone really even notices if you go anywhere. I lived it. I liked it. Each week I listened to good sermons, enjoyed free Christian concerts and even got some creative skits now and then. I loved the slickness of it all. If you went to NP, it meant you were somebody cool. It was great.... but it was not a biblical Body gathering.

I know we see this different and I know we can be OK with that. I believe it assists people's spiritual growth, to a certain level. I just feel it is a very low ceiling because it is still bound by structure and formulas that are men-pleasing at its heart.

If you're still reading, I'm glad you brought it up. We need to address this stuff.