As most of you know, although I write often, I'm not an avid reader myself. I do however enjoy reading short articles now and then. I recently ran across a small piece that caught my attention.* The main topic that it was addressing was not one that I personally find riveting, but some points made within the topic struck a chord with me. I found that several of the writer's explanations, when viewed through the eyes of how I view moving from "mainstream Christianity" to the narrow path, made some things clearer to me, even though he was not addressing this particular issue. For weeks now, I've really been asking the LORD what is going on in the spiritual lives of the people that I'm in relationship with. I've had some pretty deep discussions of spiritual matters with most everyone that I'm in relationship with, whether they are family, friend or acquaintance. Sadly, few seem to desire to grasp what it takes to leave behind "wide road Christianity". When you align the written Word of God beside what is taught and executed in "churches" today, there just is simply no debate remaining. I have experienced this time and time and time again. So why do so many who, when seeing it for themselves in the Word of God still choose to remain in the clutches of religion and traditions? How can one see the error, acknowledge it for what it is, see how God's plan opposes so much of it and then still remain a willing participant? This question just baffles me.
The article that I referenced answered, if only in part, this question for me. The heading was simply titled, "The Crowd or the Cloud?" That alone speaks volumes to me. The crowd of popularity and "normalcy" has replaced the cloud of God's holy presence. As I've stated before, the veil has been sewn back together and man has chosen to live separated from God. The Body of Christ chooses to reside in the Old Testament law of rituals and traditions of men rather than walk as sons and daughters of the Living God, set free to intimately live empowered by Christ daily. Only those who have chosen to walk outside of the gates and see what is out there know the freedom that exists. Only those who once made their abode in the city of religion and bondage, and have been set free to become who they are in Christ can truly know the reality of this level of intimacy with the LORD. So why do so many choose to remain within the city walls? Why do the majority settle for the cold chicken nuggets when a bountiful buffet awaits them? For some of you, this may address where you are currently residing. Do you ever consider stepping out of the religious system but are not sure what you'd do if you did? Do you ever wonder if there is more? Do you ever wish that your Christian walk looked differently than it does? Do you ever wonder why you remain in a religious system that never really seems to go anywhere? Perhaps the following points might help us all address why we are prone to stay where we are and never ask questions.
* I have included a few lines here and there from Charles Jennings' writing, but for the most part, I just used his main points and adapted it to explain the issue of why Christians often choose conformity.
Ignorance/Misinformation. Simply put, the lack of knowledge. Many people will just go along with what anyone who is in a place of authority tells them. Sadly, many Believers rarely open their Bible's and study to show themselves approved. How can one personally know what God approves of and what He desires of us if we never study His Word? Topical reference and formulated Bible studies replace in-depth study and greatly limit personal revelation. In a corporate setting, if a pastor/teacher should teach false information to the "laity", and the "laity" do not weigh it against the Word, the false teaching is adopted, embraced and passed on to further generations. I personally believe that this has been the single greatest detriment to the Body of Christ throughout all of history. Traditions and doctrines have become gospel fact. Catch phrases and denominational doctrines have been passed down as Truth and it should not be so. The fruit of such fallacy is plainly evident today in "church services" all across this nation, and in fact, the world. It is time to stop the cycle and return to the written Word of God.
Prejudice. Judgment before investigation. Over the past few years, several people have just blatantly told me that there is no way one can be a growing, active, affective Christian unless he or she is involved within a "local church". The error here is that the definition has been defined incorrectly. The "local body" is not what it is promoted and thought to be. The Body has nothing to do with attending services together, but being unified followers of Christ. One cannot ever be open to something new until they are at least willing to look into it for themselves. Sadly, many write off withdrawing from wide road Christianity because they have had bad experiences or even because of hear-say regarding others who "abandoned church". Of course it would not be in error to assume that many have left organized religion wrongly. Hurt feelings, bad relationships and incorrectly handled situations have likely caused millions to become disenfranchised with the Body of Christ. One must understand however that not everyone who leaves the "church" is angry, bitter or vengeful. Many, as myself, see it as displeasing to the LORD and that is the absolute foremost motivation. The question is, will one be willing to at least personally look into the matter before judging it. Most importantly, what fruit is produced from it? I would, without wavering or excuse, state that those who I know that gather as the Body outside of organized religion produce significantly more Kingdom fruit than those that I know within the institutional "church" (and this is quite a large pool I have to draw from).
Uneasiness. The acceptance of new information disturbs one's comfort zone. Most Christians are comfortable in their religious environment and ecclesiastical shell that they or others have created for them. We are a people that if we don't like it, we simply won't do it. This is dangerous my friend considering we are to live sacrificial lives of dying to ourselves. When one begins to move out of what the majority defines as right, it will not be easy. Sitting in an easy and comfortable environment where you're seldom ever even challenged to move reeks of conformity and complacency to me. I believe that a growing, maturing Believer will continually run into "uncomfortable" situations where they must fully rely on the LORD for guidance, ability and assistance. God is more interested in our submission than our comfort.
Part 2 of 2 will be posted in a few days..