Saturday, January 23, 2010

Response to a comment from a recent post

For those who aren't aware, this post is in response to a comment on my article My Strength, His Weakness. To the comment author, "Disciple", I'm not trying to make a scene here. My response turned out to be about 10 times longer than my comment length allowance, so I had to land it on here. I hope this better explains some things. Note to regular readers: We've addressed this topic dozens of times before, but you're of course welcome to read nonetheless.

Thanks for stopping by. I’m glad that you enjoyed “most” of this post.

I’d like to first of all assure you that I have no “deep seated anger” towards what the majority call “the church”. I was “in church” my entire life and, mere years ago, was a youth pastor for several years at two different churches. I was hurt, wronged and taken advantage of, of course. But this is nothing unique for the life of one who attempts church involvement. In fact, everyone I know who has been in church their whole lives has the exact same story. So, where I dwell is not in anger or bitterness, as many who don’t know me might errantly perceive. As I’ve explained in great length on this site throughout the years, how we gather is so much deeper than personal preference. I don’t “have problems with some of the things people do when it comes to organized religion”, as you stated that you do. It’s the entire mindset that drives it that, in my opinion, completely opposes Biblical Christianity. Tithes and offerings fund elaborate buildings, power bills and salaries. Positions and labels elevate some and bring others low. Little, if any of what the average “church” does truly has the time or capacity to properly and biblically disciple and develop truly born from above Believers. Therefore, the cycle that the Christian majority continues to push all to embrace moves on. Generation after generation leave the faith, never possessing their beliefs for themselves, only relying on Christian fables and church attendance, which of course wane.

I’ve always been intrigued when people use such words as “attack” to describe my stance regarding organized religion. My complete approach is to challenge what the mainstream assume to be Christianity. As with anything, when you confront what nearly everyone else deems as “right”, you get labeled as an attacker that is somehow disgruntled or combative. I simply encourage all to study the Word of God for themselves and at least be willing to think outside of this Western Christianity box. I see that far from detrimental. In fact, I believe it’s imperative that we all know what we believe and why.

Regarding your “he that is not against us is for us” reference, I believe the key is who is the “us”? We must look deeper into Scripture and properly evaluate everyone who calls themselves “Christian”. The label “Christian” means absolutely nothing to me. Fruit, Christ-like attributes, growing in biblical maturity, these things constitute a Believer, not just labels given by other men.

Lastly, you stated “We must build upon the work that has been done, and tear down the institutions that wish to devour the soul.” I couldn’t agree with you more – assuming that “the work that has been done” is the work of Christ. The institutions that declare, with their actions, that one absolutely must gather in ornate buildings, dress a certain way, talk a certain way and take part in their programs in order to be please God are exactly the institutions that devour the soul - for the focal point, that is Christ, is too far buried under the traditions of men to be seen.

I’d seriously encourage you to take a few minutes and read the articles I wrote some time ago addressing this topic specifically. One is the 7-part series, Pleasing and Acceptable: Allowing the Word of God to Define the Definitions that starts here. Another is The Church, Who Is She? - it’s short and located here. This is a deep and wide topic that takes more than a couple paragraphs to tackle. Again, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’m not offended whatsoever. This needs discussed.

I assure you my friend, no “deep seated anger” is involved. (I know that the internet has no capability of "proving" this.) I too am saddened. Saddened that adhering to the narrow path, dwelling amongst the little flock, abstaining from the empty traditions and doctrines of men and longing for intimacy with my LORD above all else is so frowned upon from those within the organized masses. It’s time we are willing to forsake what we like and seek what is truth, whether it matches our comfort levels or not. True Christianity is not about personal preference, it’s about biblically adhering to what God deems as acceptable in His sight. All else needs discarded.


Anonymous said...

After reading your response to Disciple, I decided to re read My Weakness, His Strength.
Having in my past much church attendance [I’m now in my early 60’s] I see how this article could shake ‘institutional Christianity’ to the very bone. Your recounting of the time of your stroke declares God in a very interactive way in a Believers life. You were describing a side of God many do not see when they experience God only through a denominational view from a pew. Your recount of the ER, hearing and praying for others you heard there while you yourself needed care, is definitely an ‘out of the box’ response most simply do not understand. Most church people have not heard, much less experienced in their times of crisis, the peace and the trust you shared. This is foreign territory to the mainstream folks who attend on Sunday mornings in a building filled with others like themselves. Thank you for declaring the God of the WORD. The God you described is in there. As each of us become “seekers”, approach and read the WORD with open minds and hearts, He will reveal Himself strong in the midst of the pages of Scripture. David, Elijah, Deborah, Jeremiah and Paul all saw God in the way you described Him. Your account tells of nothing absolutely nothing can separate us from the Love of God.
You brought to life the words of James ‘ask in faith, with no wavering’ even in the midst of various trials and testing of our faith. James 1:2,3,6
Keep walking this way Joel!!

Mishi said...

Very well put response.

Everytime I say something that is not in lock step with religion I am treated, or called, an attacker as well. I don't know how to convey my sadness and concern for those who are still carrying the heavy burdens placed on them by the institution. Because they always go back to "not everything about our church is bad" or "look how much good they do". So when I try to tell them that I have been shown that it is the whole system that God has rejected they see it as a personal attack on the pastor, or teacher, or themselves.

I find it frustrating and sad that when I suggest that the only thing needed is Christ they get defensive and upset. Yet, this is exactly what Christ told Martha when Mary had sat down at His feet to learn straight from Him.

I appreciate your response and your willingness to blog. It is encouraging to see your growth in Christ.

Joel Spencer said...

Kay: People just don't seem to understand what we daily walk in outside of organized religion. My room was constantly teeming with Believers reading Scripture over me - people anointing me with oil - people preparing a bed in their home for Kristin to come and sleep in as they prepared her meals - people who gave us money to pay for food and upcoming medical costs. Victory was never questioned, the power of God was more than a name on a church bulletin prayer list and the Body of Christ was alive in unity! And all of this without any traditional "church" order in place? Absolutely yes. I continue to praise the LORD for allowing us to walk out the rest of our days as the Body of Christ, not bound to services, programs and generational doctrines.

It's as I've said a million times, you'll never taste of the grandeur of the buffet that is God until you lay down your cold and stale McNuggets and walk outside of the "church" walls.

It cannot adequately be explained and only those who dare to believe that Jesus Christ is enough will travel down this narrow path.

Mishi: I hear ya. We receive more ridicule from other Believers who attend services than anyone else. The average Christian cannot seem to fathom that I believe, with everything that is in me, that the Word clearly states how we're to gather and what the LORD deems as acceptable in His sight. Just because one way is pleasing in the eyes of men and is "normal" does not mean it is right.

I'll continue to unwavering live with "Christ, who is my life" as my banner and identity. Great to see you around again Mishi.

Jimmy said...


Those who march to a different drum will always be persecuted, misunderstood and labeled. I've been labeled most of my life. I consider myself to be a "radical Christian" who continually presses on to the mark of the high calling.
I've been on both sides of the fence (organized/biblical). I'll take Biblical Christianity (body life) over the organized church anytime. I "came out" and my life exploded "in Christ". I don't have to judge the organized church ... it's already judged. Thousands are fleeing every week and many prefer the wilderness to where they have been. I can't live without "ekklesia" ... life among the called out ones is true life. Love the special gift God has given you to present current truth. Blessings my brother and friend.

Joel Spencer said...

Jimmy: I agree. I just don't understand why the majority cling so tightly to what has obviously not produced biblical results for eons. It is the epitome of favoring doctrines and denominations over what we're commanded to do as biblical Believers.

Disciple:, I wonder what your take is on what has been stated within this thread. If you're willing to respond, I'd like to hear your thoughts on the matter.