The gist of a message I heard in church long ago...
It's true that God looks at your heart, but it isn't true that you can't tell what's on the inside by looking on the outside. If what's on the inside is pure and godly, it's going to show on the outside. What's on the outside needs to reflect God and His holiness. His righteousness.
So don't be strumpeting about in the wrong things here, ladies. If you think you can cut your hair ONE INCH and see the Kingdom of God, you are sorely mistaken. If you think you can wear those tight shirts and pants and make it when I'm not looking, it won't happen. God raises a standard in the book of Leviticus that you're not supposed to be wearing men's apparel and you're sure not supposed to be inciting lust.
And the TV. Do you think you can go to heaven for ONE MINUTE when that thing is in your house? Get rid of the hellivision and quit compromising. You can't serve God and "the world."
I decided shortly after hearing that sermon that I just wasn't cut out to be a Christian. Well, not AS Christian as they are there, anyway. I guess I'm a "carnal" Christian. A rebellious Christian. In short, I'm an American first, I suppose, because I resist the leading of the Man of God. I'm independent. I mean, if the pastor is "anointed of God" and spoke truth from the pulpit... and here I'm not in agreement with him, I'm in rebellion and backslidden. I have not been "convicted by the Holy Ghost" that I need to wear dresses only. I have been stiffnecked and refused this "revelation" and not only that, I don't attend Wednesday, Tuesday and Sunday nights as well as the morning service that could last until 2 p.m. Yes, it's true. I mostly live "in the world." Therefore, I'm pretty worldly. The pants alone should tell you that! How discouraging.
You know, with thoughts like this, I'm thinking I might as well go fornicate, do drugs and um... go parachuting or something. Well, whatever. D doesn't attend church (I know, you're shocked) and in his words, "What? Is God going to send me to Hell TWICE or something?"
So might as well have fun.
But how discouraging. Could you imagine growing up in this church? You have to ask the pastor before you buy a car or date a girl or whatever. If you live like this long enough, it's NORMAL. Everyone outside this way of living is "of the world." They're worldly. It all starts with that pair of pants, lady. Do you know how long eternity is? Do you want to take that chance and stray "off the path?"
I guess I'm there. Even if I haven't been fornicating, done a bunch of drugs or gone parachuting, my very salvation is like, totally over because I'm not obedient to the Man of God and the church.
You know, it's very interesting...
Have you noticed that before people get saved, folks in this church want to tell you that salvation is a FREE GIFT and you don't have to do anything to earn it? You just do this ABC thing, or maybe say this prayer and get baptized, or whatever the formula may be in a particular denomination. They LOVE YOU! They're worried about you. Can they give you a ride to church next week? Would you like a free Bible study? Did you need some bread? Because Sarah has three extra loaves from her work at the bakery...
Then after a while...
Well, then after a while you start to realize something.
Salvation isn't really free. You'd better shape up if you want to continue being accepted by this "family." And do you think God is cool with that word you said last Tuesday? And we need volunteers for Sunday School. We should all be doing "God's work," and hang on while the pastor cracks open that book of Proverbs... or better yet, Revelation! ... and tell you about it.
That's a cult. I'm sorry to say it. It might be a Christianish cult, but it's a cult. In the book of Galatians, it's clearly outlined how to deal with a believer who is "caught in a sin."
(Outsiders? Non-believers? God's spirit has to convict 'em because they're spiritually blind. No amount of chatting about it is going to do any good unless God supernaturally uses that chat to DO SOMETHING in that person's life. Hm. Which I guess is possible, but I think honestly prayer accomplishes a bit more. Maybe I'm wrong. Not to say I don't chat with people anyway, but that's more because I like to chat. And share cookies.)
Galatians 6:1 doesn't tell people who are "spiritual" to preach at people and browbeat them into submission. It says to restore them gently while watching THEMSELVES so they're not tempted to fall into the same sin.
And you know what? I've seen preaching against sin in other churches, and I think the difference between this church and a True church is that the preaching is done in humility and with that idea of coming alongside others as an equal and not The Man of God with all the answers. The feeling you get when someone at least TRIES to care for you and understands that we're all in this together.
Another thing? I think that the people listening to the preaching need the same spirit toward the pastor and the people sitting in the next aisle. Which I'm not always good at but trying to cultivate. Ok, I'm crappy sometimes. Didya just hear me cuss?
This church I'm attending right now is very strange. Daja, you'd be happy to hear that the pastor thinks women should be preachers and evangelists just like men. He has some verses to back it up, too. Since he knows fluent Hebrew AND Greek, I can't really argue with him. I know I'll look stupid if I do.
Another strange thing is that, when you ask the pastor what you HAVE to do after your salvation prayer to stay saved, the answer is "nothing." That's it. I'm sure there are lots of good things we SHOULD do, but I've never had this pastor tell me which car to buy or what movies to see. I think if I did something obviously wrong and way "out there," I might receive some advice to be taken or left. And I do think there's a time to kick a member out if there is unrepentant, outright flagrant sin. But if it has happened at my church, I haven't seen it. No "disfellowshipping" someone from the pulpit here.
I haven't seen that nasty spirit in this place. I see problems. I see people who could do better, including myself. Sure, I see hypocrisy. Probably because I see people striving for a standard that is so perfect we're going to come up short. A lot.
The church at the beginning of the blog post? Well, suffice to say things didn't turn out so well for the pastor who preached these things. I wish him and his family the best after he repents of his own sin. I really do. But there have been many people hurt along the way. Many lives shattered. I think the people I feel the most for are the children who grew up there. Now that things have soured, and their ideas of "who God is" were so connected to that one church... well, God Himself has to heal those things. I'm praying that will happen and soon.
In the end I guess it doesn't matter much where you go to church. But there ARE many wolves in sheep's clothing out there. I hope this post doesn't sound overly critical. I hope it just speaks to someone else out there who needs encouragement that God and people who claim to speak FOR God are sometimes two very different things.
So are you wondering where God's eyes are? 1 Peter 3:12 says that God's looking on the righteous and listening to their prayers. May God bless you today. :]