Go mbeannai Dia duit.

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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide the gate, and broad the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Matthew 7:13

One of the most deeply disturbing things I have witnessed is religion. I make no bones about the fact I am a Christian. I make no apology for that fact ~ but I do not follow a religion. I follow a person. It is an interesting fact that the early Christians talked of their faith as *the Way* ~ as in a path to be followed, as opposed to things that we do.

Jesus himself said, " I am the Way..." so I am grieved to my very core when I witness people who adhere to things & rituals, who believe inviting Jesus into their hearts & warming their pew of a Sunday morning, not kicking the drunk as you step over him on your way in to church & remembering to feed the dog is a free passport into heaven. I'm sorry but it's not.

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Matthew 7:21

It is a biblical fact that many who think they are saved are, in fact, not. Now, I have no idea who is saved & who is not ~ & I have no way of knowing. That is for God & God alone. However it is a broad path that leads to destruction & given our world it is tempting to allow the *small sins* to slip in so we can fit in better with our world when we were never meant to fit in with it. We were meant to be salt. In the world but not of it.

Now one of the properties of salt is that it is antiseptic. Pour salt into an open wound & it is going to sting! When was the last time you stung anybody? Now before you get all huffy with me I am no fan of ranting bible bashers because I seriously think they've missed the point. On the other hand I am no fan of the sort of Christianity that makes no distinction between itself & the world about it. If you are reading your bible & God is not convicting your heart on anything, I would humbly suggest that something is very wrong. If you are reading your bible & God is not whispering in your ear the plans He has for you & directing you towards the good deeds He has planned for you from the foundation of the world then I would suggest something is more than seriously wrong.

See the very definition of Christian is that they belong to Christ & Christ is very clear. Those who are His carry His mark. Those who carry His mark are set aside for His purposes to be sanctified, to be cleansed, to be made holy ~ & those are attributes that are in direct conflict with the world. To be a Christian is to carry the very name of Christ & in Isiah we read: Bring my sons from afar & my daughters from the ends of the earth ~ everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed & made. Yes, I am aware this was originally directed very specifically to the Jews but note the wording ~ everyone who is called by my name. Christians are very specifically called by one of the names of God. It may be a Hellenised version of the word Messiah but it is still a name we use to refer to God.

Christ didn't have much to say about fitting in with the world but he did have a good bit to say about bringing a sword, not peace, about creating division between father & son, mother & daughter. He had something to say about being persecuted for His name's sake so complacent Christianity has me squirming. What do we think we are doing?!

And I am not interested in what good works you & your church are doing. If it has not grown out of a direct relation with Christ & from the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit then it is so much straw that will be burned up. And this is the question I wrestle with: What does it mean to be salt & light in a 21st century world? How has Christ marked me & by what signs will I be known? There are the fruits of the spirit ~ but even those who are wicked know how to do good things. There are the outward manifestations in dress, reading material, work choices ~ but that so easily slides into legalism. How am I distinct from the world around me & by what means will the world know that though I am forced to be in it I do not belong to it? And the choices I make become my witness & a testimony. For better or worse.


Amanda said...

Wow Ganeida! Well said... all I can say is I am in agreement with you 100%. You speak my language dear sister...

I have thought on these things often and really, it is a very serious thing to follow Christ. How many take it as seriously as is necessary? Too many churches these days are no more than business enterprises or fun clubs. I could go on and on. But I won't. You nailed it.

Ruby said...

Love God, love your neighbour. While as you say, many of the attributes of the Christian can be imitated by the world, the source cannot and in some way, which we do not fully understand this is manifested in us. "See how they love one another!"
I think we experience this even in the unique fellowship we have with other christians who are not known personally eg the net. There are some(many?) who will say Lord, Lord and he will say I never knew you, and we do not judge but we can inspect the fruit and see the evidences of those whose profession is more than lip service but a heart and life surrendered to God.
Some have strayed so far from the picture of Christ and his bride that they no longer even deserve to be called by his precious name.

joyfulmum said...

Well said Ganeida!

Amanda said...

So true Ruby...

Ganeida said...

Amanda: it is a very serious thing to follow Christ & He tells us to count the cost! We fellowship with a couple who nearly deserted the faith before meeting Christ thanks to the money hungering of so many churches. Liddy has a missionary heart but my heart is for the dear ones already sitting in our churches who know not God.

Ruby: I do know what you mean & true Christian fellowship is a wonderful thing & an absolute blessing. I think spirit speaks to spirit so we can recognize each other but I grieve for those who are decieved & the poor teaching that leads to destruction.

Rosemary: I hope this wasn't one of those posts that give you *brain strain*. lol But I'm pleased you commented.

joyfulmum said...

Lol Ganeida, no this wasn't the one, it was the Tuesday Trivia:)

Jo said...

This is why I don't feel bad about not attending a church, as I can still be a very strong Christian with out attending a formalize church. Sadly churches are more often than not full of bickering and politics and less about the Word of God. And often the Word of God has been manipulated to make it popular to the masses.

Ganeida said...

Rosemary: Ah, the trivia gives me brain strain too. ☺

Jo: Not sure if you realise but we don't attend *church* either. We fellowship at home with another couple. You are correct about the bickering & political plays & the manipulation of the word to suit *itching ears*.

seekingmyLord said...

I am not fond of the organized religious establishment in general, but people need fellowship. However, beyond that, if we are to be as Jesus, then we are to attend worship services together as well. I mean, if Jesus was God in the flesh, why would He need to attend services? The church was wherever He was!

I have been without a church at times also, but if I am to be honest here, that probably was because I was looking for a church that made me feel comfortable...and now I believe that is the wrong attitude. My husband and I have changed our perspective and we have been led to churches that had troubles, because that is where God needed us at that time. I cannot say such times all that "enjoyable," but we had a purpose there.

I feel that churches are not about us being served, but about us giving the opportunity to serve God and others. As Ganeida points out, many go to church who are not saved and those squabbles and outright wrongs are steel sharpening steel. Christians need to be challenging each other to be more Christ-like.

As I see it, the biggest problem with the world encroaching in on the church is the attitude within the person in that the church somehow falls short in serving "me" rather than how have I fallen short of serving God and others in the church?

Now if you are in a Christian ministry outside the tradition church, like feeding the poor and you give your time and money to that, because you felt led by God to do so, I have no problem with that. However, most people who choose not to attend church also do not seek outside ministries and therefore miss out on ministering to others. I happen to know young ladies and men within churches who could use mentoring and who is there to do that? Who is there to improve the church from within when we chose to be outside of it?

Ganeida said...

Seeking: Yes & There are times when the only response is to walk out. If I had another good choice on the island I would take it because we are meant to fellowship together but I don't. However I do fellowship ~ & not just on Sundays, & the people I choose to fellowship with are strong Christians who share Christ with me ~ & in a sense it is a ministry. Sitting under poor teaching week after week & under the authority of people who allow sin unrestrained in the fellowship weakens our own faith & is not good for our souls ~ to say nothing of how it affects weaker brethren! As a corporate body & as individuals we are called to holiness. When the leadership is wrong I believe it is wrong to stay ~ unless American churches are structured very differently because there is no way to lobby for change. I think you know where this is Won't labour the point but I will say that generally I agree with the points you have made.

seekingmyLord said...

Ganeida, I understand the situation in your previous church and with the lack of choices being on the island, but you began home churching also. You felt led to start a ministry outside of the traditional church. My comment was not aimed at anyone in particular, least of all you, but at the idea itself of not needing to attend a church.

It is my experience that most people use excuses as to why they do not attend church services, rather than valid reasons or God's leading. I am not judging anyone here. Ganieda, you know how much I value seeing things from another perspective and to challenge others to do the same. That was the purpose of my previous comment.

Ganeida said...

lol Seeking: responding generally. I did not take offence as I think your point is extremely valid. I know you know. I don't know America but I do know Australia. Often, especially in rural areas, choices are extraordinarily limited & it may be much healthier to not attend church. Most rural communities give you one choice: Anglican [who have a homosexual archbishop] or Uniting [who ordain homosexuals] If you feel strongly about either of those options you would have difficulties attending the available congregation. Liddy's closest church where she is now located is Uniting. I am happy she is not attending church there. lol She often goes to 2 or 3 services when she is home. lol

Sylvia said...


In a previous post you had asked about my views on christianity. So here goes.

I can agree with a lot of things you say. I did not know what the term 'legalism' meant until recently. I just think there are different ways of dressing modestly, raising Godly children, schooling them, covering our heads or not, preaching, doctrines, views on feminism, churces. But IMO all these are merely window dressing.
I come from a country where there are religions that explicitly give rules for the number of times to pray, fast etc. Christianity does not do that. It is the easiest religion to follow. Rules are good, but what are the rules and who decides them ? And I so hate it when people wrap up scripture to say a certain way of life which happens to be their way of life (for instance wearing skirts only is biblical feminity and my pet peeve) and say that is the only way and others are heading to hell.
I grew up loving church in a non-christian country and the fellowship it gave me and the way it grew my faith.
In America I had a crisis of faith, almost lost it. Had to tell myself over and over again, the shepherd is the only one that matters and not the flawed sheep. It is easy now because of the internet and technology to get the word of God. I carry sermons in my ipod all the time. I do not have to lug around a huge bible to have access to the word of God during the course of the day. My phone has applications for that. But is that a good thing ? I can pick and choose what I want to read, when and how and technology has made it more accessible, but somehow so impersonal. Nothing beats the actual fellowship of a real live person. We as a family pray together, but have not found a congregation yet because of 'where we fit in' and 'what we believe'. I thought once upon a time christians all over the world believed the same thing and only that should matter.

I just think we should make our choices prayerfully and that is the best we can do. I hope I am saved. Is it a guarantee I am going to heaven ? I will know only when I stand before Him.

Thank you.

Ganeida said...

Sylvia: You are quite right ~ & like you one of my particular little soap boxes is that one doesn't have to be *dresses only* to be saved. Nonsense!

In our house we have 3 distint ways of worship because God calls each person individually & what works for one does not work for another so we have had to make all sorts of adjustments. I like silence. My Star, who is musical, can't abide it. Liddy, who is called to missons, is much more traditional. I struggle with those denominations that have very strict rules because where is the room for the Holy Spirit to move & manifest Himself?

I can't imagine what it is like coming from a country where being in the minority forms its own particular sort of bond, uniting all Christians, to a western country where we are spoilt for choice & squabble about unimportant things & so often have have lost our way.

I find your comments fascinating & insightful. It reminds me to stay focused on the important thing [Christ, my Lord & saviour] & leave the rest up to God. Thank you. ♥

Amanda said...

I enjoyed Sylvia's comments immensely... I believe she is onto something ;)

Sylvia said...

Thank you for your response.

If I led you think that legalism is only prevelant in America or western countries, my apologies. I think a version of it exists in a non-christian country too.

I have seen a horrific system called caste which existed centuries before christianity ever reached my native country justified by some christians in the name of Genesis 24 (the verse where Abraham asks Eliazar to go and look for Isaac's bride among his people). It always made me uncomfortable and made me argue about that. I have since recenly heard that in some parts of Africa FGM is justified in the name of modesty. I think these are forms of legalism. I just did not know the term for it.

You once wrote a post about women preaching and head covering. I wanted to delurk then but was afraid. If I may say something about it.

On head covering, I come from a culture where covering of heads in most religions is a sign of respect towards elders and especially in worship. So christian women cover our heads during worship. And I have heard people interpret the head covering verse as that is what God wants us to do though a majority of us have long hair. I personally think it is more of a response to culture than individual leading like yourself and Diane.

As for women preaching, in my native country women preach a lot. While it is tempting to say feminism has crept into the church, IMO it is a response to culture. My native country has buses segregated by sexes, a ladies only compartment in a commuter train, ladies only schools and colleges etc. And in many churches even in cities men and women sit separately. I did not find it different or odd until I came to America. In villages it is more complex as well as orthodox families from other religions. Many women will not enter a room where strange men are or even show their faces to men other than those related to them through blood or their husband, not even to a father-in-law. The only way to preach the gospel to them I have seen is through another women.

You are right. Worship takes different forms. And so does how we nurture our faith or preach the word of God IMO. We take so much for granted the ability to read and have access to a bible. Even in a developing country I was one of the lucky ones. So many old people in their 60s and 70s, especially poor people have never read a word in the bible. Even if you give them a bible they cannot read for they do not know how.

It is late in their life and though we taught them how to read, they may never read the Bible. I have seen preaching the Gospel to them done through parables and stories like Sunday school.

There are some places in the world without a written dialect, many languages in which the Bible has not been translated. So to say 'this is the only way to nurture faith or preach the Gospel' without any cultural context or the hurdles sort of impedes us.

You said it best.
" It reminds me to stay focused on the important thing [Christ, my Lord & saviour] & leave the rest up to God."

Thank you.

Ganeida said...

Sylvia: I am finding your thoughts fascinating. [You really should have your own blog and talk about this in depth! ☺ Seeking will tell you to be careful when I say things like that. She seems to think I am responsible for the blogs of several of my blogging buddies!]

I have a very dear Christian friend who grew up in India [yes, she's Indian; I get my salwar kameeze from her ☺] & she talks about many of the points you raise:segregation, caste, illiteracy. We do take so much for granted here.

And what an excellent point that where segregation exists the only ones who can preach to women are ~ women! The more I think about that & the way even some western churches are structured,the more I think it is a very, very important point. Once again, thank you.