I have been in the church a long time, and I have learned and experienced a lot. But the most interesting era of my Christian journey started years ago when I was introduced to a paradigm I was not comfortable with; the supernatural move of God and the Prophetic. I had never seen a lame man walk, a blind see or a dead raised back to life, and while I read about these things in the Bible, somehow I was convinced as everybody else was that this was no longer our reality. The Holy Spirit was a gift given so we can feel good and speak in another language, but we never learned to produce anything other than just babbling and running around the church and hitting each other over the head with a Bible. Yes, I experienced this for sitting and observing because apparently, in a Pentecostal movement, our lack of participation in the crazy stuff is a sure sign of being demon-possessed. Try sitting when everybody else is ‘worshipping’ and see how your day turns out.
Now, at the very foundation of our existence is this whole issue of opposition. We see this from the government all the way down to the church. Everybody is against everybody else, and one man is always trying to convince another that this is the right way, and you get labeled these days for disagreeing, especially if you disagree with someone who has a higher position than you do. I am not so sure when being right in our convictions was so intimately linked to our positions in church, but…it can be uncomfortable for the layman. I have often asked God how He does it. How does He tolerate humanity when all we do is fight each other; speak death over each other; and sit in seats of judgment over one another. We dis-fellowship people from church because their sin is known and keep people in the pulpit who have mastered the art of hiding their own struggles with the very things others get dis-fellowshipped for, and we call this family. I started to think I had a higher probability of making it to heaven on my own, but that’s just not God’s design, unfortunately. So, I have to live with being labeled a rebel, disobedient, not flexible, deceived, blah blah blah.
The church is a messed up place, with messed up people who are always casting the blame on others for their own imperfections. What you judge and dislike in others is actually within you. You cannot judge another without judging yourself. I can show you this in scripture.
God made everything…including Adam and Eve, and put them in a garden with a tree He also made; the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Every single human being has within them the potential for both good and evil.
Adam fell without having a conversation with the devil. He didn’t even have a conversation with Eve. All he did was act on what was already in him. Give the devil a break, and go deal with your junk. Change yourself, and the world around you will change. Eve was deceived. Adam willfully disobeyed. Adam’s act was greater because he was not deceived. Do you know what is deception? Deception is to be convinced via a conversation to act on your own evil inclinations. Adam acted on his own evil inclination without being deceived. You don’t need the devil to disobey or reject God. You can do that all on your own.
The real journey of Christianity, regardless of your position in church, is to overcome the evil within you with good. Paul says it: Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:21 – ESV).
Oh, you thought he was talking about the devil.
He also says:
I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it. So I find this law at work: Although I want to do good, evil is right there with me. For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me. What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? (Romans 7:15-24 – NIV)
We journey to get to that place where we can say, like Paul:
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 – ESV)
The problem with the church is everybody…and everybody thinking that everybody else is the problem. No, the problem with the church is YOU. Until all those I’s die and there is only Christ, there will always be problems.
On top of that we have all created our own god in our own fallen image. That’s why God sounds like us, acts like us, believes everything we believe; so nobody can convince us otherwise. We fit every new teaching into our old pattern of thinking. We may adjust it a little bit, reject what cannot fit, but we convince ourselves that we are into this new thing that God is doing, but we have not shifted in our actions, thoughts, beliefs, and perception. We force God to see life through our own eyes. Like, seriously. We have become our own gods, which is why we reject Him when He shows up as a donkey, a child, a prostitute, or anything else that makes us uncomfortable. God is God, not you.
So, I woke up thinking about Paul’s words. I know we like to play god and sit in seats of judgment. The really gifted among us think it’s their responsibility to weed out the sinners among us, so we expose each other’s fault publicly and often speak against the people of God because they are doing things we don’t agree with. This is not your job. God gave you one job; to love. So Paul says, I want to show you a more excellent way:
Though you can speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have the gift of prophecy whereby you understand all mysteries and knowledge…and even though you have the kind of faith to move every mountain but you do not have love, you are nothing.
The church is filled with gifted people, but it is also filled with broken and imperfect people. The church is also filled with judges, critics, gossipers, backbiters, hypocrites and idol worshippers. I know, because I am one of them. I have abandoned my journey to please men because it’s pointless and extremely exhausting trying to fit into their paradigm and serve their image of God. It took me a while to find God in all the mess, but now that I have seen just how different He is from us…I seek only to be like Him…to be conformed to His image. I am not different, and I have not changed…I am just waking up.