Now that that fact is out in the open, let me explain what it means. Have you ever been to a church where there is an older lady or gentleman who upon the surface looks gentle and loving, then after several minutes of polite conversation they begin to explain to you how the pastor is of the devil and all the young people are going to hell because the so called Christian music they listen to is of the devil, and the music is so loud they have to turn their hearing aid down, and they have gone to that church all their lives and can’t understand why everyone is so unfriendly. I rest my case. being in church will not grow you as a disciple. Neither will Sunday school, small groups, retreats, or even Christian College.
I have tried every one of these approaches to grow as a disciple, and none worked. In fact, no effort on your part is going to change you one bit. Just keep reading, I’m getting there. What do we know?
- Jesus, died for our sins
- Jesus rose again so we know we will one day
- Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to guide and direct us
- God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit
If all these statements are true, and I believe they are, where do we come in? A.W. Tozer says there are things God can’t do for us. Two of those are Repent and Believe, I will add a third; trust. God gives us the Holy Spirit so all three of these things are possible, but whether we chose to do so is up to us. Being a disciple of Christ isn’t about acting a part, it is about trusting in Christ to free us from our sin. God knows we are human, and he knew from the beginning we can never just change and be good so he supplied a means to help us overcome our sin, through faith in Christ. We can’t act our way into being. We must be transformed from the outside in, not the inside out.
The book of James is filled with many does and don’t of the Christian life. While many church leaders point to James 1:19-26 as way to live as Christians, they skip the next part and give the wealthy preferential treatment. Have you ever seen a poor person on a church board? I think James does have something, that should be part of every Christians life, but like today, James got it backwards. Paul says in Romans 12 that we should offer our bodies like living sacrifices to God, so that he can change us into the people he wants us to be. Then after he has changed us we will know how to do what is good and pleasing to him, which is what James is getting at. Once you know God, and rely on him to change you; you will be able to do what he wants and act like the Christian you think you need to act like now, not before.
Then what do we do about going to church? I never said going to church was wrong, I said it is not what changes you. Being around believers, especially ones who love you for you, and are safe for you to confide in, is a must. Whether this comes in a traditional church building, in a home church, an organic coffee shop church, or any church for that matter is completely up to you.