03 July 2007

Undone for the Sake of Christ

I am certain that this post will be a shock to some that know me. I hope that I am able to articulate what has transpired in my life over the last year, and even going back before that, and how it has affected me, and the shift our family is experiencing as we come undone, and untangled from organized religion. God has been trying to show me for years now that what I thought was spiritual life, was little more than smoke and mirrors. What I though was worship was a fa├žade, an item crossed off a check-list of things to do in order to feel good about myself, and my standing with Him. Quiet time was a ritual, and little more than that. Even on the days that I tried hard to keep with me what I had digested that morning, more often than not, I was looking for a feeling of approval – like my mentally retarded brother –in-law says when he cleans his plate, or writes his name, “I did good”, and wearing it as a banner over my life as I interacted with others, a sense of superiority, I had my quiet time today. My Christian walk has been little more than a crawl – against the wind, in the desert sands, chasing mirages.

Since we moved, and I have been visiting churches full of unfamiliar faces, my eyes have been opened to the hypocrisy in my own heart, and what we call the “church” in modern day America. Face forward. Every head bowed, every eye closed. Sit. Stand. Sing 5 verses 3 times. Sit. Pray. Raise your hand. Don’t deviate from the program. How can God’s spirit move in the confines of our itinerary?

I began noticing that so much of what passes for a “sermon” has very little to do with the word of God, and much more to do with a social agenda. The church is anti-alcohol, anti-smoking, anti-gay, anti-pornography, anti-Harry Potter, anti-anti-anti, etc. and for years while we have had this growing laundry list of things we don’t “do” or “support”, we have done little to effect a real change. Jesus hung out with the whores, and thieves, and liars. He drew them into relationship with Him. He knew that no change could be affected without that connection, but we’ve pushed them out of the modern day church, in intolerant self-righteousness.

Recently, I heard someone say that we were moving out of the “church-age” and into the “relational-age”. I wasn’t sure at first exactly what that meant, but it resonated with me. I found myself saying to a friend not long ago, that I hated going to church. It scared me. What I want is not more “church-ianity” but a deeper relationship with Jesus. I am ready to shed the guilt of not doing enough, and walk one day at a time in His leading.

I found a website recently that is busy documenting the sweeping movement of committed Christians who are dropping out of formalized religion – and have decided to stop “going to” church and start “being” the church. It is called The God Journey. Finally someone was putting into words what I had been thinking and feeling. Intelligent, articulate people who were passionately in love with Jesus Christ but tired of church as we know it. Do we have it all figured out? Nope. That’s the beauty part, we get to get closer to Jesus and follow His leading. If you are feeling much the same way – I would highly recommend watching the videos found at Family Room Media about “Church Dropouts” and their series on “Church Outside the Walls”. There is also a vast resource of podcast archives, with a lot of nitty-gritty stuff to chew on.

Here was an amazing article, Is Jesus Enough. I say YES. He is enough. Peel back the layers Lord and let me be left with YOU! God is in control. All our trust is in Him. Our home is open. Our hearts are open. All our resources are in His hands. We wait with great anticipation to see what He is doing in us. This may not make me popular. In fact there was a time that I would have been furious with someone saying such things. But we know the road He is leading us down, and what else is there to do but follow.

I found this video that someone put together using clips from The Passion of the Christ to a Todd Agnew song, Which Jesus Do You Follow. It is my heartsong right now.



My Jesus

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Which Jesus do you follow?

Which Jesus do you serve?

If Ephesians says to imitate Christ

Then why do you look so much like the world?

Cause my Jesus bled and died

He spent His time with thieves and liars

He loved the poor and accosted the arrogant

So which one do you want to be?

Blessed are the poor in spirit

Or do we pray to be blessed with the wealth of this land

Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness

Or do we ache for another taste of this world of shifting sand

Cause my Jesus bled and died for my sins

He spent His time with thieves and sluts and liars

He loved the poor and accosted the rich

So which one do you want to be?

Who is this that you follow

This picture of the American dream

If Jesus was here would you walk right by on the other side or fall down and worship at His holy feet

Pretty blue eyes and curly brown hair and a clear complexion

Is how you see Him as He dies for Your sins

But the Word says He was battered and scarred

Or did you miss that part

Sometimes I doubt we'd recognize Him

Cause my Jesus bled and died

He spent His time with thieves and the least of these

He loved the poor and accosted the comfortable

So which one do you want to be?

Cause my Jesus would never be accepted in my church

The blood and dirt on His feet would stain the carpet

But He reaches for the hurting and despised the proud

I think He'd prefer Beale St. to the stained glass crowd

And I know that He can hear me if I cry out loud

I want to be like my Jesus!

I want to be like my Jesus!

Not a poster child for American prosperity, but like my Jesus

You see I'm tired of living for success and popularity

I want to be like my Jesus but I'm not sure what that means to be like You Jesus

Cause You said to live like You, love like You but then You died for me

Can I be like You Jesus?

I want to be like my Jesus



No more smoke and mirrors - I want Jesus and nothing less!

8 comments:

  1. Julie you are an amazing person. I love your honesty and candor. As you know, I also don't attend church for many similar reasons.

    You're right , many people are just going through the motions, attending church because it makes them "good people"

    There is a movie that I watched a number of years ago that summed up my feelings on church. The movie was Chocolat with Johnny Depp and Juliette Binoche. All the townspeople were so busy defining themselves by what they denied themselves and who they excluded that they forgot to emjoy life. It's a pretty good movie, watch it and you'll get the connection.

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  2. Julie, you know our church searching journey that lead us to a home church (of which I NEVER thought I would be a part of). Our family, all of us, have grown more and learned more about God's principles for living and being transformed into the image of Christ than all of our prior to home church lives put together.

    What I have found with "church-ianity" is that a main principle to speak only things that are edifying. Verses like Romans those in Romans 12 support your thoughts. Romans is filled with directions about using God's principle of love (an action) in dealing with others (both believers and not). 1 Corinthians as well. But one of the most memorable verses for me to support your thoughts is Ephesians 4:29--Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of y our motuths, but only what is elpful for building others up, according to thei needs, that it may benefit those who listen.

    You spoke of the feeling of guilt after (or during a sermon). Guilt is not a Godly trait. Guilt puts us on a power trip that we should be acting a certain way or doing certain things. It is clear that the way to be transformed is not through works but solely through a verbal faith in Christ, his death, and resurrection, and inviting God to have control over our lives. This means being in the word daily, working with it, seeking God's guidance to uncover His ways of dealing with people and the world, to be more lke Christ with each breath. God loves and accepts us just as we are, right now. He loved us right where we were yesterday and 10 years ago. He will love us the same tomorrow and in another 10 years. It is very difficult for us to accept ourselves as we are, but knowing that God loves us as we are is a great step. Guilt comes from us not accepting ourselves as God does. Then comes the power trip to perform...be at church each time the door is open, donate, make certain we are volunteering, dressing in a way pleasing to the congregation, etc. God doesn't command any of these things to us.

    Oh, this is too long winded for a blog, eh? Thank you for such a good post. I am anxious to check out the links!

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  3. I've been on somewhat of the same journey - not so much of being turned off by the anti-this, anti-that, but I was more turned off by the leadership and policy stuff being more important than people.

    I read a very eye-opening book - Pagan Christianity by Frank Viola. It's a controversial title, but it's really exposes modern day "churchianity". Thanks for the good links. I'm listening to a podcast now!

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  4. I SO understand what you are saying. Most people are simply playing church and I believe it makes God sick. I could write an entire blog entry here but I guess I should save it for my own blog LOL!

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  5. No condemnation here! I think HE can use us so much more powerfully when we are living outside the box with Him! Sounds like an exciting journey! Can't wait to see how He's going to use you and your family.

    Gayle

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  6. I thought a lot of your poat was right on. I do think that God calls us into community with one another as believers though. What do you think about that? I am curious, not condemning...

    We have been attending a Calvary Chapel, where the focus is really on the Word- verse to verse teaching. It is not a perfect church, but never will we find that. I have left some churches too when they veered from the Bible.

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  7. Wow, Julie, you are a writer, your words are so wonderful. Thank you for sharing that, I completely understand and agree. That song was powerful. You are awesome sister!
    I saw the movie Chocolat too, it was really good.

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  8. wow.. i have so many thoughts on the subject.. i will have to organize them or else i may end up making a whole post of my own..

    great stuff julie..

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Awaiting your words......
♥ Juls ♥