Monday, July 24, 2006

It's A Narrow Road Alright

I have had it with people that are narrow-minded. They have a black n white world-view and believe people outside their frame of mind are going to hell. I just think that is too narrow of a road for anyone to follow and reminds me of the Pharisee's traditions. Here's what I mean.

Scripture has to be 100% accurate and be error-free. What irks me is not that they believe that but they live contrary to their own belief system...but expect you to buy into it 100% no questions asked. They are hypocrites half the time in trying to define error-free faith. It's 'judge not' but the way they use judgement as a deterrent makes you wonder. Jesus hangs with sinners but the church calls it the 'world' and to be avoided at any means. It's a God of love but the church finds Him to be a God of seperation & exclusivity (just for the saved). Salvation is the message of the gospel (solely almost) and 'good works' is seen as damaging to your faith because it will fool you. Even if the book was 'error-free' then we still have this problem on our hands...the church's interpretation is making it null n void.

I see the church in a different light over the past 6 to 7 years, seeing the strength of their hypocrisy in 'teaching one ethic' but living 'another ethic'. If you question the structure you basically question God. If you leave the structure, you basically leave God too. Now I might be gullible enough to believe that if the church 'practiced what is in that book'. However, they do not and some of the same things Jesus says to the Pharisee's has come full circle to be said to the church. Just what did Jesus say to the Pharisee's? I go to Matthew 23.

1. "Therefore all that they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds; for they say things and do not do them." Hmmmm...did I just read that right.

2. "They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger". Could he mean laws & regulations we have to follow to stay a Christian, the same ones we condemn ourselves by?

3. "But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men;...They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men." You don't say. I have seen that somewhere recently.

4. "You shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in. " I always wondered why it was so hard to be saved and accepted by a loving God.

5. "You devour widows' houses, and for a pretense you make long prayers". The houses thing I don't see very often but those prayers, are those the same ones where people pray for you and literally tell how much this person knows about scripture.

6. "You travel around on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves. " That's actually a little ironic when the trend in some churches is to scare people with 'hell' to get them into church in the 1st place.

7. "You blind men, which is more important, the offering, or the altar that sanctifies the offering? Therefore, whoever swears by the altar, swears both by the altar and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple, swears both by the temple and by Him who dwells within it. And whoever swears by heaven, swears both by the throne of God and by Him who sits upon it." Seems to be some mix-up, did the Pharisee's think the altar and the temple were to be honored? Reminds me of some churches that think the structure is as important as God.

8. "You tithe mint and dill and cummin, and have neglected the weightier provisions of the law: justice and mercy and faithfulness; but these are the things you should have done without neglecting the others." So we should gather resources and be involved in our community?

9. "You clean the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside they are full of robbery and self-indulgence". So don't say anything bad in church or feel down and dress nicely with smiles on always. Robbery & self-indulgence, I can think of 2 cases in the 80's about this.

10. "So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness." Kind of like being better than some people, let's say people of the 'world'.

11. "For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous." Let's see I have been hearing this spiel for some time now, 'we need to return to what our fore-fathers, those Puritans, taught and how they shaped this country'. Oh those Puritans, same one's that taught First Nations people were 'savage heathens' and oppressed African Americans. Good times really.

11. "Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city." I may be going out on a limb here but is the church getting some people sent to it to help change it's direction and they drive them out of there...calling them, let's see...heretics, ungodly, anathema, back-slidders, apostate sinners with a 'seared' conscience. Weird.

So do I think the church fits into some of these categories, yes I do (the vow one, not so much). But I see a reason for change in mainstream church and if you don't agree, well check out your local neighborhood church and get real involved...might find out that I am onto something, well not me, Jesus taught me this.


chris said...

Dude, you keep hitting them out of the park!! I have seen just a small portion of the politcs that take place in my church, and it is sickening. Still, I try to attend when I can. Maybe I can spark something in the minds of the congregation when they allow me to play some of my songs. That is the only way that I know how to state my case is through my songwriting. We have to try, right??

BruceD said...

I've come to the conclusion that they're only doing the best the can with what they know. For some reason, the deeper nature of God's love hasn't been revealed to them yet. So, they put their trust in their institution instead of God. But, that's OK. Somehow, some way... God will reveal Himself to them in terms that will bring incredible life. Not everyone is ready for the "next step", so they muddle along in their "systems", making themselves feel good about "doing something" for God. But, their day will come. One by one, they will awaken to the glory of God's amazing Grace, and begin to see what actually happened on that magnificent Cross of Jesus!

God can be trusted. His will is done!

Danny Kaye said...

I am not so sure that this one is "out of the park", as Chris said. I have been a Christian for 19 years and have been in the same New Hampshire ministry for all 19 of them. Though we are far from perfect, I can't say that I have ever seen the church politics play a part in the way things have gone. There are pockets of what you describe all over the religious world. I am not so naive as to ignore or deny that. But isn't this whole thing based on each individual's experience and how spiritually strong the local congregation is?
I am blessed to be part of the ministry that I am in. We have had great leaders who knew how to keep us from going down the road of legalism (even while some other ministries throughout the world might have slipped into it for a time).

bruced said:
"For some reason, the deeper nature of God's love hasn't been revealed to them yet."

It must be our collective hard hearts. ;-)

Jim Jordan said...

Excellent homiletic! I'm familiar with most of the verses you quoted but would love to see the chapters and verse numbers to make it complete. This post is a powerful reminder that one can't put all their hope in a church. They will only have their heart broken. The structure of the church is itself doomed to being a "world" institution corrupted by its own power. When the Bible speaks of the true church it means the body of true believers in Jesus Christ. The "rock" on which Jesus would build his church was Peter, a most ordinary person made extraordinary through Christ. Good work.

Jim Jordan said...

Danny is also correct in his observation. Of course, God uses churches to glorify Him, but they are always vulnerable to the pitfalls that society enumerated. My local church is a wonderful place to fellowship with other believers, but our parent church is the disastrous (my opinion) PCUSA. Now my bible study group that I work with is a great example of a truly Christ-centered organization. We still belong to these organizations as they help us to serve others, but the vulnerability is always there.

SocietyVs said...

I think I am only writing in response to some of things I (and others) have experienced from churches of all denominations and how they lay down a 'dividing line' for the saved and un-saved (like they even know).
I have had some great friends, and still consider them friends, who are really religious. I have found the religious system helped to 'push' a lot of people out the door, the undesirables I guess they can be called. Basically, they weren't matching up to all the rules and regulations, but they were coming to church nonetheless. I guess I felt sorry for that group and joined them because I seen something in them that cried out 'truth' in a system that couldn't accept them.
Now I do knock religious systems because we fail a lot but somehow we think the system will bear us up. We are flawed and the system is flawed but in order to know that you must challenge it. Once you challenge the 'authority' of the church they will just as easy 'excommunicate' you as 'baptize' you. So I wrote that religious systems can become 'Pharisee's'. If I based this on my own experience then I think the critique is not justified, but I based it on a lot of people and what they have to say about their personal struggle with religious authority...the same authority that still argues over 'religious punishment' while ignoring charity for the neighborhood unless the people they help are part of the church.

Lori said...


Just wanted to say that I enjoyed your blog. I can relate to everything said here. I have my own church stories.. but it is part of the journey.

The universe seems to always have opposites ie. light versus dark, good and evil.

Could it be that we are still eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil?

I don't know about you but that tree has no LIFE.

I want LIFE and I am just beginning to understand it is about LOVE.

Could it be that we yearn to know right versus wrong more than LIFE???

I believe as we behold him with an unveiled, unhidden face we will see Him and know that His Love is what it is all about. I want to eat from the tree of Life....

In Him Lori