Monday, October 26, 2015

My Problem With 'Church' (1/X)


I decided to write this during a discussion with friends yesterday. I know I cannot exhaustively cover the many things I would like to see different in ‘church’ in one post, but I am not willing to commit to a series exploring the subject. Hence I have decided to make this one out of ‘x’ posts; I may, or may not, write other posts – and if I do, I may not write them any time soon.

I have used ‘church’ loosely, to mean different things in different contexts.

Here we go.

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1. My pastor’s sermons have replaced my study of the Bible. If you are a Christian reading this, pause – and ask yourself when last you sat – or stood – to read the Bible. Yes, the Bible. Not a devotional. Not a motivational book published by your pastor. The Bible. If the last time was earlier today, congratulations – please continue. If the last time was a few weeks or months ago, now, now – don’t beat yourself up; do something about it.

I don’t have data, but based on personal experience and people I have spoken to on this subject – too many Christians don’t actually read the Bible for themselves. Ask about tithes, divorce, or the resurrection, and they’ll give you a mumbled opinion – most likely depending on their pastor’s stance on the subject. Some will defend these ‘secondary opinions’ to the ‘death’ – opinions they don’t understand and that aren’t even theirs. Isn’t it interesting that many of us have chosen to be defined for the rest of our lives by goals we don’t even understand?
"And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul's message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth." - Acts 17:11.
Don’t get me started on those who take copious notes in church, as though they were interviewing for a job as the Pastor’s secretary, then promptly forget them until the next Sunday.

What I have found is that life happens, and when it happens – your Pastor will not always be there. Situations may come upon you that cause you to question who you are, who and what you believe, and how far you are willing to trust in the God you cannot see. Church leadership may err or fall into error. Sheep will not escape destruction by bleating, “but the shepherd led us astray”.

Net – your Pastor’s role is to point you to God, not to replace him. If the Berean Jews fact-checked Paul, as in – PAUL, then who is your pastor such that you will not fact-check him or her? Moral of the story: read your Bible, know who and what you believe.

2. My church is better than yours. Back in University, a pastor who we were trying to convince to join the umbrella association of Christian fellowships on campus told me something to the effect that his fellowship was not on the same ‘spiritual level’ as others. I have heard quite a few Christians denigrate other churches, often from one of two pedestals: we are ‘more saved’ than you, or my Pastor is more ‘worded’ than yours.

I have no words.

Ehm, that is not true.

I have words. I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t.

I find it interesting that we are more interested in proving whose light shines brighter than in getting off our comfortable chairs and going out to light the world. Jesus never said we were the light of the church; he said we were the light of the world! A sixty-watt bulb can make a huge difference outside in the dark, but would definitely be lost if stuck amongst halogen lamps!

I was once taught that 1+1 would ALWAYS equal 2. That was in Primary School. Then I got into Secondary School, and suddenly found that 1+1 could sometimes equal 10 – in Base Two! Was my Primary School teacher wrong? No! Would my Secondary School teacher be wrong to condescend towards my Primary School teacher? Yes! You see – if I did not first understand the principles of addition in Base Ten, I would find it extremely difficult – if not outright impossible – to understand addition in Base Two!
"For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away." - 1 Corinthians 13:9-10.
I find it disturbing that certain pastors, having attained unto a measure of progressive knowledge, brand other pastors at earlier levels of the continuum as misguided or operating in error. If this 'argument' were to hold true, then no pastors would ever be right until they attained unto the highest level of knowledge upon going to be with Christ – because every step up the continuum of revelation would invalidate the step before it!

Now for some balance: I would be the very first person to speak (gently) to a friend or acquaintance if I suspected their church of teaching heresy. I would speak, not argue, and definitely not condescend (hopefully :)). I would make it a daily ambition to pray for them, and I would try to get them to study the Bible for themselves.

Net – you are neither better nor more righteous than any other believer. We are all the righteousness of God in Jesus; you were made right with God through Christ’s sacrifice – not because of anything you did. However, if you must strut around believing you are better than us all, then Goodluck to your Jonathan; just don't come near me.

*****

That’s all. Like I said at the beginning, I do not intend as of this moment to turn this into a series – so I may, or may not write more. I just had the brilliant idea to ask my brilliant friend, Mofesola, to do a guest post on the subject. I’ll bring it to you subsequently if he agrees.

Cheers to the rest of the week,

M.

Edit (August 2016): Ten months after, I have finally written a second post worthy of this series. It's titled "Touch not my Anointed and other scams". Here's a link.

6 comments:

  1. First to comment!! hehe... LIB style.

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  2. You are so spot on!!!! I love listening to preachers but I KNOW I have gotten a lot of understanding from reading the Bible for myself. I keep saying it that the reason non-believers are able to throw a lot of flack on Christianity is because of people who follow BLINDLY. May God continue to help our understanding. Amen. God bless you for this. Looking forward to more posts.

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  3. Nice one. I had this issue with people too. I remembered back in school, we were arguing on a matter and I brought out the bible explaining to my friends based on the bible which I read to their hearing but they said that was not what their pastor told them. In fact, some people will say like this article rightly pointed out that "the pastor is not worded" and that is why you wont see them in church. The first question I asked was that "did the Pastor say anything contrary to the bible?" they said "No". Then what is the meaning of "he is not worded" Do they want him to be rhyming his messages and bringing out quotable quotes we see all around on social media to show that he is worded?"

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  4. Powerful. Articulate. Truth. I can relate sir.

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  5. Came.....started reading....but it's too long....so, I'm going back to sleep.

    Moby

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