… When Jesus was eating supper at Matthew’s house with his close followers, a lot of disreputable characters came and joined them. When the Pharisees saw him keeping this kind of company, they had a fit, and lit into Jesus’ followers. “What kind of example is this from your Teacher, acting cozy with crooks and riffraff?” Jesus, overhearing, shot back, “Who needs a doctor: the healthy or the sick? Go figure out what this Scripture means: ‘I’m after mercy, not religion.’ I’m here to invite outsiders, not coddle insiders.” ~Matthew 9:10-13 (MSG)
What is Christianity?
It is all about belief in Jesus Christ and learn to conform to God’s holiness, character, including doing things are acceptable in the eyes of Christians such as going to church, get involved in ministries, giving tithes, saying prayer, and reading the Holy Bible, and memorizing a lot of verses (bonus: even being a Bible Thumper title champion, eh?) Sound like most common you heard about Christianity right?
Can I ask you, what do Christianity means to you? According to worldly perspective it is all about belief in the teaching of Jesus Christ. Let me ask you again (I am pointing my finger at those whom has their heart dedicated to God), what does Christianity means to you?
Can you answer that question? We failed to understand the foundation of Christianity. Did the foundation of Christianity provide with an instruction to build a church building? None of those instruction actually existed there. Believe it or not! Jesus simply told his disciples with three main instructions provided as he said:
“All power in heaven and on earth is given to me. So go and make followers of all people in the world. Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach them to obey everything that I have taught you, and I will be with you always, even until the end of this age.” ~ Matthew 28:18-20 (NCV)
So what are three instructions which Jesus mentioned? Here it is:
- Make followers of all people in the world
- Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit
- Teach them to obey everything that I have taught you.
So my question for you, did Jesus create the blueprint of the church building? None of them was mentioned out of Jesus’ mouth! The book of Acts documented the early fellowship of followers of Jesus Christ was held at home not church. The church is translated from the Greek name ekklésia which means belonging to the Lord. In another saying, it is called the house of the Lord or body of the Lord. The church itself is not a building. So who came up with the idea of building a church and make it an assembly of followers of Jesus Christ only? So credit went to Emperor Constantine (272-337, A.D.) which was called as “Father of the church building!”
Oh really? Yes, Christianity needs to be RE-DEFINED! I am not saying church building is the wrong place to seek & worship God among with other believers. I am saying the church building is actually becoming places of assembly of so called self-righteousness & professing Christians. Even what becoming great tragic within the church, there are too many gossip & back-stabbing going on and even judging about other brothers and sisters’ flaws in their life outside church. It is very difficult to find grace-filled Christians in there. I am not blaming everyone or all churches, but I wanted to remind you that finding true loving people of God are very few within each congregation.
It is why the image of Christianity was seriously damaged, however it was nothing new and there are certain group who gave the Jewish people distorting view of God in Jesus’ time. Who is certain group? The answer is a religious leader who carries self-righteousness attitude. It is why Jesus was deeply annoyed by their belief in God as Jesus said:
“You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life.” ~John 5:39-40 (NLT)
I would like to make an additional in elaborating the true meaning of interpretation of what Jesus said in v. 39-40:
“The religious leaders knew what the Bible said, but failed to apply its words to their lives. They knew the teachings of the Scriptures, but failed to see the Messiah whom the Scriptures pointed. They the rules, but missed the Savior. Entrenched in their own religious system, they refused to let the Son of God change their lives. Don’t become so involved in “religion” that you miss Christ.” (Commentary note taken from Tyndale Life Application Study Bible: New Living Translation)
Conforming to God’s character in making our life holy in the presence of God is our primary concern as we normally go through a period of regeneration and sanctification. It is not an express lane or overnight-changing life. It is a lifetime walk with God. Unfortunately, in the religious system, the rules have been exaggerated and it created such as man-made rules. It has created much miserable sense in seeking God, which has caused people to have distorting view of God. We need to stop making the so called rules to be our primary concern in our spiritual journey in the presence of God. Let me share my experience, in my twenty years of my walk with God despite there are many bad things happened in my life, but I still keep learning as God, purify my soul to become very lovable, compassion, and gracious person toward others. I went from being legalistic to grace-filled Christian!
It is why Jesus mentioned about two important things in our spiritual life where he taught us to rely on God daily:
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble, and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” ~Matthew 11:28-29 (NLT)
Commentary on v. 28 & 29~What do Jesus means by heavy burdens? He was referring to sin, excessive demands of religious leaders (Matthew 23;4 & Acts 15:10), oppression and persecution, and weary in the search for God. Jesus frees people from all these burdens. The rest that Jesus promises is love, healing, and peace with God, not the end of all labor. A relationship with God changes meaningless, wearisome toil into spiritual productivity and purpose (Tyndale Life Application Study Bible: New Living Translation).
Second important thing Jesus said about walking with Him:
“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is—when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.”~John 15:5-8 (MSG)
Jesus emphasized that growth in the presence of God is not an overnight change, it is a lifetime journey. To produce beautiful garden, it requires much of time involving cultivating, sowing and watering in order to see garden have been well taken care of. We rely on God’s Word which is living water to our soul!
I have countless of conversation with Christians keep telling me:
“Pastor told me…..”
“I had to do it because Pastor told me.”
“King James Version is only and true bible translation as Pastor told me.”
“It is because my church told me so!”
List going on!
Did I hear anything that they talk about seeking God through the guidance of the Holy Spirit in purifying their soul? All of us have our own struggles and it requires much of time to seek the truth in the presence of God for better change after receiving Jesus in the heart.
So what about pastor? Their job is to ensure the congregation’s responsibility to seek God with their whole heart, not to dictate their heart. The biggest tragic in church, too many of us became victims of spiritual abuse because we have a distorted view of God based on our toxic faith.
The citizens of Berea heard Paul and Silas preached about the Good News and determined to examine and study the Scripture to ensure it was what Paul and Silas preached about. So therefore citizens did their homework by verifying and confirming to see if Paul and Silas said was true and authentic came directly from God. It was mentioned in Acts 17:11 as it said:
These people were more willing to listen than the people in Thessalonica. The Bereans were eager to hear what Paul and Silas said and studied the Scriptures every day to find out if these things were true.~Acts 17:11 (NLT)
So what does it mean for you? Once you listen to sermons or bible lessons and it is YOUR responsibility to seek God and examine Scripture to ensure it is enhancing your spiritual growth in the presence of God. The pastor is not your god. The pastor is simply doing work for God by ensuring you guys are well connected to God and have a stable relationship with God daily.
So true walk with Jesus will motivate you to do something will glory the God in sharing God’s love and testimonies than to do something to gain attention from congregation and secular to show you are being good Christian. The true walk with Jesus, go to within heart FIRST not performing the duties!
“… When you search for me with all your heart, you will find me!”~Jeremiah 29:13 (b) (NLT)
As you seek God with your whole heart and God will get you there in His time!