Sometimes I say things that shock people. Saying that religion is still, after thousands of years, standing in the way of God fully doing what he wants to do on this earth may be shocking to many people.
But I am completely honest in making that statement, and it is our fault.
Religion is divisive. It puts boundaries around opinions, thoughts, and ideas, of what a group of people determine is right and it excludes everyone else that does not believe exactly that way. Of course, if the ‘others’ will change to thinking and believing their way, then they will be included.
Once the myriad of boundaries are in place, then the walls are constructed and boom, bob’s your uncle, you have what we call a church. And we have literally thousands upon thousands of them across the globe. Each one perpetuating their own brand of religion and they will die defending that they are right, and the only ones that are.
Yes, I am on a soapbox. I’ve felt this way for a very long time and I feel quite at a loss of what to do. It is honestly my number one prayer request. That God would supernaturally destroy those religious walls in a radical explosion of his mighty power. That we would stop with our diehard desire to be right at all costs, and the cost is high.
Being right, if we even are, will not save a person from an eternity away from God. Being right will not help the homeless, feed the hungry, and tend to ANY in need. We would rather choose to die on the hill of our own opinion than venture out from behind those walls and join hands with others who do not agree with us.
Putting aside our petty differences and joining hands in unity will accomplish what God has ordained for us to do. And the truth is that none of us is completely right. We have all been given, by divine design, a piece of the truth and only by uniting can we have the whole. But that takes us daring to have an open mind and, at the very least, listen to others in other ‘religions’. Listening will not taint your belief system, but the Holy Spirit may take that opportunity to reveal to you another facet of his dimension that you never knew before.
Many boxed religion buildings, otherwise called churches, do a measure of community outreach and ministry. If it is done with a genuine hunger to love those in need that is great. If you have an ulterior motive such as to ‘get them into your tidy little group', then you have already failed. We must eliminate the desire to fill our four walls, increase our bank rolls, and brag about how many ‘we’ have.
But, these religious walls are concrete obstructive barriers that keep more out than will ever come in. They segregate the kingdom of God and forbid unity.
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to” (Matthew 23:13)
We can do quite a bit separated into our small boxed religious buildings, but I have a dream of unity, where we all come together with only one agreement - Jesus is Lord. When I think of the possibility of what we could do and how our world would change, I salivate from eagerness.
Reading and re-reading the bible from front to back, it is clearly evident that God’s plan is and always was to get us back to the garden where his glory reigned and there was unity.
His kingdom is meant to unite into one body upon which he is the head. In the last few decades I have seen the ekklesia grow more and more in unity, but there is still too much dissension. Too much jealousy and backbiting.
I Corinthians 3:1-9 And I, brothers and sisters, could not speak to you as spiritual people, but only as fleshly, as to infants in Christ. 2) I gave you milk to drink, not solid food; for you were not yet able to consume it. But even now you are not yet able, 3) for you are still fleshly. For since there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not fleshly, and are you not walking like ordinary people? 4) or when one person says, “I am with Paul,” and another, “I am with Apollos,” are you not ordinary people?
5) What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. 6) I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. 7) So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. 8) Now the one who plants and the one who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. 9) For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building. NAS
However, even with increased unity in many areas, the trend which the hardcore naysayers and criticizers of others in the body, have grown more vicious and rabid in their detrimental hammering of others they deem as heretics.
They are hungry to tear down others in the body at any cost, only because they believe differently than the way they do. And they are angry. They declare them the enemy and that they must be of the devil. To them, that makes what they are saying and doing right. But no one who says Jesus is Lord does so aside from the power of the Holy Spirit.
I Corinthians 12:3 Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is accursed”; and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. NAS
We must stop trying to perfect others that Christ himself sees redeemed in Jesus. We are all on a different journey to our salvation in Christ Jesus. It is dangerous for us to meddle and try to force another journey on others. That is the job of the Holy Spirit.
Phillipians 2:12 & 13 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13) for it is God who is at work in you, both to desire and to work for His good pleasure. NAS
We label our own selves, which highlights our disunity. I am a ______ (insert any denomination). Since I was young, I always wondered why anyone would define themselves by their segregation within the body rather than defining or labeling themselves simply a Christ follower, or a Christian.
Social media, as much as I love it, has given a platform to those who want to rail against others in the kingdom of God. Their excuses are plentiful and meant to justify any criticism they so desire to fling out into the world. But there is nothing Christ-like in these actions. And it pushes more people away from the body of Christ than it will ever pull in.
Matthew 12: 33-37 “Either assume the tree to be good as well as its fruit good, or assume the tree to be bad as well as its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. 34) You offspring of vipers, how can you, being evil, express any good things? For the mouth speaks from that which fills the heart. 35) The good person brings out of his good treasure good things; and the evil person brings out of his evil treasure evil things. 36) But I tell you that for every careless word that people speak, they will give an account of it on the day of judgment. 37) For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” NAS
Unity does not mean being and acting or even thinking alike. Unity means having grace and compassion for everyone else out there, and I mean everyone else, regardless.
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