Church has gotten so far away from what God had intended. It is now more like the Tower of Babel in Genesis than a model of what we see in the book of Acts.
A horrible thing I have heard of is this: A congregation starting out as humble – with a vision that adheres to the great commission and making disciples – and then becoming nothing more than a Christianized model of the world; a small society with its own man-made Christianized philosophies, pursuits and power groups.
Is it possible to stay relatively untouched by the culture and homogenized groupthink of a particular church? Yes, if you are aware of such things and don’t get too immersed in the culture. However, once you take the proverbial red pill, there is no going back. Once you realize that you are in a matrix, your mind reforms in such a way that it becomes incompatible with the culture.
For the one who is mercifully granted discernment by The Lord, it starts out as a small, nagging feeling that something isn’t quite right. Small little graces, encouragements and kind acts of other attendees and members silence that feeling temporarily – until you go deeper into the rabbit hole, witnessing and experiencing more oddities. The acts of kindness, as well as the unspoken promises of financial protection should something go wrong in your life, are very strong antidotes to dispel the rational thoughts regarding most negative experiences. There is an emotionally bonding, guilt-based aspect to this phenomena.
A church culture where negative experiences happen regularly, yet go unchecked, needs a counterculture marked by abundant acts of Christian righteousness and service to keep it afloat.
But what happens when “the righteous acts of the saints” are used as a crutch? The same thing that happens when we use our good works as a crutch to avoid accountability for our sins against God and others: Separation from God.
Jesus gives us a sobering reminder in Matthew 7:21-23:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Friends, we must know Jesus, and He must know us. We must be close with Him every day, always in prayer and seeking The Father’s will through Him. Jesus is alive, and we must know Him, hear His voice and obey Him.
When a congregation relies solely on a pastor or his teachings, ideas and words, they often forget Jesus and fail to seek Him. This is dangerous for seekers, newer converts and babes in Christ who have come into a church where those held in high regard within the four walls have dedicated the entirety of their lives (and sometimes their family’s lives) to the organization.
A newer believer will be psychologically conditioned to follow the lead of whoever is spoken well of, not because they are righteous in Christ, but because they are the most active, dedicated members.
“Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” – Luke 6:26
Friends, we must be careful that we are not following man. If you have not yet established a very real, intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ with daily prayer and finding strength within Him, come away from the church people and their activities and programs. These activities and programs are designed to lift up man’s kingdom on earth, not the Kingdom of God.
If your primary concern in life is glorifying God through discipleship, you will have a very difficult time finding edifying fellowship that encourages spiritual growth. You may have physical needs met, and you may receive “encouragement” (which is Christianese for “flattery”). If you prophesy, edify, admonish or rebuke solely by The Holy Spirit, no one will hear you; they will turn their ear away. If you are stronger in faith, this will inevitably lead to frustration. This frustration is one way God may lead you out. You will know that the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God, and you will not want any of it.
The weaker sheep may feel crushed by the rejection of their faith and question what God has been telling them. They will begin to follow after what everyone else is doing in order to be a functioning member of what they believe is The Church. This is the broad way that leads to destruction. The soulish “Martha” (Luke 10:38-42) church culture pulls people away from true discipleship and causes them to box their faith in to the myopic vision of the organization and its leaders.
If, as a disciple, you attempt to walk your faith out in all of its fullness, you will inevitably be thrown out by leadership or shunned until someone tells you that you should leave and “find another church if you don’t like this one”. You will notice that the soulish American church is a lot like a job: You can leave if you don’t like it.
Obedience to God and obedience to man mix like oil and water, and to be welcomed into these kingdoms of men, you must obey men.
Question for today: Is your church functioning as a flesh factory, or a spiritual war base?