I’ve just finished reading through the Bible for the second time (I’ve listened to it mostly) and have noticed a few things we preach from the church pulpit but that I don’t really see in the Bible. Stuff that I think has maybe snuck in and become accepted in church culture despite never being prescribed in the first place.
It’s not unlike the little spoiler we put on my old Honda Civic. The car wasn’t built that way; we put it on afterwards because I think my mom thought it might help me get a girlfriend. And even though it never really did anything functional (I would probably have to be going 250 mph before it would effect anything) we just kept it on there because it would have been too much effort to take it off.
I don’t want to condemn what the church does because maybe they are good! (the spoiler didn’t really hurt anything, and maybe it did make people like me a little bit more) But I just want to point them out just in case someone sees that stuff and is bailing on Christ just because they don’t like church. I’d love your thoughts and comments on this stuff!
Church services: In the Bible I don’t see Sunday church services where someone stands up in front of the rest to give a lesson and everyone watches, and then goes home to their separate homes after that. “Church” in the Bible seems to be much more about going to hang out with other believers in your area, using your gifts to uplift them and vice versa, worshipping together, loving them like a family, and helping each other when the others need it. In the Bible I don’t see the church as much as a financial, or company-type-of-entity as much as it is like a huge, multi-generational family all living in one big apartment complex.
Softy love and forgiveness: I believe God is about love and forgiveness but I feel like in the churches I’ve been to that’s about all we talk about. The way I read the Bible, at least 3/4 of it is about seeking righteousness and obedience. We love the tender soft mothering persona, but I think he’s also a super strict dad who wants to train us up to be rockstar humans with discipline.
Fairness: I think maybe living in America has given us an overgrown sense that we have some rights that are unalienable. I think it’s only been in the last sliver of humanity’s life time in which we’ve had the luxury to demand that. The God of the Bible seems to heal some people and others not. The ark of the covenant starts to fall over, one guy jumps over to prevent it from falling and he dies because he touches it. God will destroy whole nations and cities for the sake of purity, even if some of them didn’t seem to know any better. That doesn’t seem fair. However He gave us life, so I assume he is the one who has the right to take it away. I’m not saying that human rights and the banishing of all human suffering shouldn’t be strived for, I just think we have made it the ultimate ethic on which we think we can judge God’s actions, call him unfair, and challenge His sovereignty.
Relationship with God: In church I think we say someone’s saved if they are in a relationship with God. I don’t really know if I’ve ever seen that phrase in the Bible. I think we usually interpret that idea as praying and reading the Bible a lot and I do think we need to have those avenues of communication open often (Enoch ‘walked with God’) but I feel like that’s not enough. He is asking us to love sacrificially and obey him too. Talking with someone isn’t the only way to make sure your relationship is right with them. If your dad asks you to take out the trash, but instead you just tell him about your day, that’s not a very good relationship. It’s a lot more than just talking to him. I think it involves listening and obeying him. “He who loves his brother loves me.” We may say we pray a couple times a day, but are we visiting that lonely neighbor lady next door? (Dang, I should probably go visit her.)