In search of a more authentic Christianity

Authenticity.  Transparency.  Depth.  Meaning.  These are things that are woefully lacking in church these days.  We float along superficially, not bound together by Christ and the bonds of love, but enslaved and shackled by the fetters of institutional obligation and the artificial boundaries of local church connections.

Ugh.  It is so wearying and burdensome.  So tiring and back breaking.  Relationships are so wooden and hollow.  This is not the life that Christ has for us.  Sending a Christian to your average Sunday church service is like sticking a living organism into an anaerobic environment and expecting it to grow, nay, thrive.  Ain’t gonna happen.

Something in the very deepest part of me wants to run far far away from church.  Not the people for whom I deeply care, but the system.  The services.  The put-on-ness of the entire thing.  It’s a lousy, manufactured, drummed up, weak, image-conscious counterfeit for the real deal.  My soul is tired of the show, the going-through-the-meaningless-motions… aren’t you?  In pursuit of Christ, my soul knows He is to be found outside of the fabricated, synthetic confines of an institution.  Institutions stifle and suffocate the very life of God within His body!

Freedom…. that’s what I seek… liberation from the control of anything and anyone but the Spirit of God…. freedom to serve and worship and love and seek and probe and know and ask and discover the great depths of a great God… not alone, but with others who want to know Christ in truth!  Freedom from the legalistic snare of church, freedom from the hypocrisy that is rife within the system, freedom from the man-made traditions and the peer pressure that accompany the institutional setting, freedom to follow the leading of God’s Spirit and to experience true spiritual unity and not that conformity which is borne out of artificial borders traced around a shared church logo.  Freedom to disagree and discern, and freedom to be heard and to hear, freedom from reprisal and from unspoken rules and expectations and protocol.  Freedom from the secrecy that accompanies church, and the mind games and efforts to control people, bully people, and just generally impression-manage.  It is all so wearying, and I am so over it.

Lord, lead us on…….. light our way with the wisdom from above.  Guide us out of slavery and into true liberty…..

Old wine skins for new wine?

Just had a bit of an epiphany about the awesome new covenant 😀

The old, Mosaic covenant was concerned with spiritual hierarchy and mediation by man, physical location for worship, limited access to God’s presence, etc.

The Spirit of God had not been poured out on believers yet.

Now that the Spirit of the Lord dwells in each of us, what would we need physical temples for?  What would we need hierarchy for?  What would we need a mediator for (other than Jesus, as we learn in Scripture!!)?

the NEW WINE of the better covenant cannot be contained in the OLD WINESKIN of forms and structures like those of Mosaic times.

We ALL have access to God by the Spirit and through Jesus Christ our sacrificial Lamb and merciful High Priest!

The institutional church with its hierarchies and structures is a defacto rejection of the priesthood of all believers and the power and blessings that belong to the entire company of the saints!  Get into the word of God and learn the truth!!

What does grace mean?

I often hear the word “grace” used in ways that make me wonder how the speaker defines it, understands it, and how it came to have that meaning.

For example:

– Grace is unmerited favour

– I want to show grace to my unsaved neighbours, not judgment

– God has such grace for us when we disobey Him

– we should show him/her grace

Obviously, as in all discussions, a lot boils down to definitions of one’s terms, but in my casual observation (and with no intention of misrepresenting anyone’s meanings) it seems that grace is frequently used as a juxtaposition to judgment or a judgmental attitude.

A few things that I observe from scripture regarding grace:

– God gives grace to the humble

– Grace trains us to deny ungodliness and live upright lives

– Jesus embodied grace and truth

There are many more things to add to that, but these are just some initial thoughts.

So… When we think of “showing grace” to our unsaved friends/neighbours, what do we mean by that?  Do we mean that we treat them graciously, respectfully, kindly?  Do we mean that we shrink back from ever talking about sin, pointing out their sin, calling them to repent and believe the gospel?  Do we mean that we try not to let our lives and Christian choices cause them to feel convicted or judged?  Do we mean that we do our best to be a good Christian witness without offending anyone by our faith?  If this is what we mean when we say that, is any of that really employing the proper meaning of giving grace?

Also, do we understand that God’s grace doesn’t simply automatically apply when we are disobedient?  That God’s grace is reserved for the humble and contrite?  Are we careful to clarify this when talking about the wonderful grace of God?  God’s grace is certainly unmerited in the sense that we could never deserve it and He doesn’t owe us His favour.  But is not unconditional – there are definite conditions associated with receiving this gift.

Does “showing grace” mean that we give people time/space to come around to the truth?  If that’s what we mean, where do we get that idea of grace from?  Again, I am not suggesting we DON’T give people room to process the truth, just hitting them over the head with it – rather I am asking about our hijacking of a biblical word, with biblical meaning, to become a word that means whatever we want it to mean.   The reason this matters is that we will soon begin to take our meanings for this word, and read them back into scripture.

Are there other nuances of the word “grace” in scripture that I haven’t thought of?