By Janet Vargas - Owner Of This Website
Depends what you mean, a real Christian Walk or a Churchy Christian Walk. Yes there is a marked difference. And sad to say most of what we see around us these days is far removed from what a Christian Walk was all about when it commenced 2,000 years ago, in it's original form. It was real, it was powerful, it was inviting.
So much so, people who witnessed it kept asking to join in (they did not need to be asked) and the numbers grew exponentially. It was unstoppable and something went very wrong 3 centuries later.
In 330AD, a Roman Emperor felt so threatened by this, he sought to make it a State Institution, so he could gain some control over the workings of it - the way they functioned. So Christianity was never meant to be like that, No, many need to get their Facts Straight and See the True Picture, not what they've been told in ignorance. Local Churches was Not the practice of Early Christians, much less Hierarchy. Those practices drastically altered Christianity. It became an Institution like any other Institution, with a history of Powerless Religion (apart from some practices that were restored much later) That's the sad reality of it.
Yes, that's when the system of Local Churches came in - not when Pastors and Church people like to think - whereby Christians had to meet in Buildings, where structured Services took place and Hierarchy of the Day commenced, instead of in each-others Homes where all the Life and Vitality was. A Spiritual Family Atmosphere.
That was a sure way to disturb the intimate bonding between them, they previously experienced, and the Power of God in their midst waned shortly after Constantine had his way.
Henceforth, Christianity was not the same and we have that problem to this Day - Churchy Christianity in the main, that no longer appeals to people around them like it did then. They are asked "would you like to come to a Service?" and the person says "help no!" in their thoughts and replies "no thank you." Many times, they have seen "Christians" not living the Life (a walk with Jesus) maybe, and are not good examples, true to their beliefs. Most people deplore hypocrisy of any kind. I share those sentiments.
This saying is true "any decent living person can do better than that" Hence, the Constantine Model of "Church" is not really conducive to true spiritual growth and many who "attend" have not actually had a real encounter with the Living Christ they claim to follow, so they don't really live for Him. Sorry, it's true! This places a real discrepancy in the minds of sincere people. It is actually disturbing until you realise.
A GORGEOUS STORY!
This was an experience of a really nice man I came to know in a local Shopping Centre about 10 years ago - a cheery likable guy. We got along famously well together. He was very taken to me, he liked the way I related with him, a lot. He said there was something different about me and asked me a question. I said it was Jesus - that I love Jesus, He is in my heart and life and I enjoy relating with people, an ability that I didn't always have.
He continued to enjoy my visits there, and when an elderly customer invited him to one of her Services one day, he thought he would go and "check it out" so he accepted. After he went along there, I came in one day and he shared the story and described his experience to me. He said she was a nice elderly lady extending an invitation to him, but on arrival he was lost how to understand things - and it was all foreign to him and he felt like "a fish out of water" so he thanked her and did not venture any further.
That was his description of a 'churchy experience' and he is a really nice guy. He then said to me he's confused, that the experience he had there was totally different to the feel he gets with me - that one was relatable, the other was not and it was a little disappointing.
He said "I thought you were a church person, so I went along." And I replied "oh __ ,
I prefer just to relate with Jesus and people. It's all about relationship with me and religion often clashes with that. I see one experience was "Life" to you and the other was "lifeless"………… Jesus didn't Come to make us Churchy and unrelatable (something people can't relate with) that's pretty traditional really, that people have added. But Jesus was never like that or those who followed Him. He related well with people and His followers did also. They visited each-other frequently and enjoyed each-other's company. I don't relate well with churchy stuff either, it takes the Life out of one's experience with Jesus. Though it doesn't seem to with some." He said "oh yeah, I found it confusing, I didn't understand a thing!" He said he was going to be working at a different Shopping Centre and asked me to come and visit him. I said "oh I will miss you!" and was happy to do that.
GRACIOUS and CANDID?
When conversing with people and writing on Webpages, I always like to be gracious. But sometimes, I can be Candid, when speaking or writing about something that needs to be addressed. I give it my best, so I will be very straight with some segments of this Article, with the intention that it can clear up a lot of questions in people's minds and do some good. Understandably, one Christian can be a real pleasure to meet and converse with - a certain feel lingers with you - while another "Christian" can have a disturbing affect on you, and maybe you wish you hadn't met them.
So if you stay with me, you will find a few things mentioned, that will be embarrassing to some, but like I said, it's necessary to uncover. Some of you have questions, you deserve to have answers.
Many of these Churches claim to have Healings and Miracles in the Services, but most of the time, that never happens, so that is a misleading Claim they're making. Some of the Buildings and Services even use the term Revival, and of-course, that too is a false Claim - even the Bible bears witness of this when it says concerning our Day that "many would have a form of godliness (or piety) and deny the Power of God" (the real thing). It even goes on to say "avoid this kind of people" that is wise advice considering so many people choose to leave those Services not very long after - give or take a few weeks or months because the true "Life" of Christ is not really present in those Services to satisfy.
There is so much programming in them, it stifles the Spirit of God from moving in hearts and lives most times, like He did in Early Christianity, and more intimate type Fellowship in Countries who can't afford buildings and are not Westernized. In fact, that's where a lot of Healings and Miracles take place (and I am not referring to Evangelistic meetings - their Faith is so Simple, it hasn't been educated out of them.
Truth of the matter is, as expected, you sit down facing each others backs being entertained or told what to do, and then go home till the next week. We must learn to call a spade a spade folks, it is not disrespectful to call it like it is. Many a true discerning Christian has said concerning a lot of Church People who "leave their commonsense at the door when they go in" because they will hear all manner of stuff from whoever is preaching and believe it.
These are Believers who are very concerned about the way things are, not critics.
I mean to say, it could be anything really, and because the preacher said……..you better believe it……..commonly referred to as "the Pastor says, the Pastor says" and they fail to exercise discernment like once again, the Bible says to do. The Apostle Paul often told Christians in his day to always practice discernment because there were Unstable Teachings getting around with some pretty persuasive Sects. And doesn't that describe our Day? He distinctly said words like he did not want us to be ignorant of such things.
Am I against Christianity? It depends what you call Christian - for that kind of Christianity I give a "NO, I choose not to affiliate with it" because it so poorly portrays the Living Christ, I have loved and walked with many years. It really does. Besides, have no illusions, Jesus is not happy to be presented that way or to see His Kids so easily led. He calls us to be a stronger, well-adjusted, happier person than what we see
"in churches" Today. At-least, that is my Story.
Some Church People may not like me after this, however many people have real needs and searching for Answers, while the Church Scene brings added Confusion in it's Present State.
Pentecostal Churches would have to be the most Unstable with their teachings and practices, with so much error coming into them for many years. Especially now, keep your kids out of there if you have any say with them. The world around us is unstable enough without any more instability added, in young hearts and minds.
Honestly, any decent person would say something like this in their thoughts when asked to join them "I may have a few bondages but why would I want to trade with yours, I'm used to mine at-least." Sorry if that sounds like an indictment, it is! I've seen so many mixed up through the years from that kind of thing.
I actually consider the Pentecostal Churches to be quite dangerous (many of them) because there is so much unstable "Ministry" in them, they can really mess up our lives once trust is given to them - just like the Medical Profession in many instances. Please be advised.
If you do like the Church Model and would like something more stable for yourselves or kids, I can recommend Baptist Churches I have seen and witnessed at times through the years. They have good stable teachings and practices. Something I do like very much about that Movement is, many of them have Cafes and Craft Groups with pleasant company - a good balance to have - and a vision to see outside of themselves rather than needs orientated. That's a healthy practice. Unlike Pentecostal type Churches who attract a lot of unstable people to them.
Many people in the Baptist Movement have had parents and grandparents in Christ and are a very stable influence. Certainly a better environment for anyone who has been unstable in some way. It just goes to show what a wonderful stabilising influence the Word of God is when it is not misconstrued. There's a lot of real Gems in there and a good direction in life. Those are my sentiments and those of many who find this True.
A Personal Testimony For Your Encouragement
Twenty years ago, I distinctly heard the voice of Jesus speak in my spirit one morning, not long after waking. He said these words I had heard once, decades ago - a Bible verse concerning the Children of Israel "Flee the house of bondage!" These words couldn't be any clearer if they were audible, and very pertinent to my situation at that time. For many months, I'd had a nasty medical condition that followed the use of a so-called Safe Antibiotic called Rulide - it has made quite a lot of people sick in different ways but they won't take it off the market (like so many other Big Pharma's creations).
Well, it was given me ironically for a simple ear infection I've not experienced before. It actually destroyed the nerve fibres in my ears (permanently) and my hearing became amplified with anything in hearing range. This necessitated staying indoors 24/7 with the doors and windows shut, so I didn't see much cheery sunshine in those days.
As you can imagine, it became very depressing after a time. Those words Jesus spoke to me were very appropriate. I had lost an alarming amount of weight after living in Alert Mode so many months. The Audiologist had said to me, the Chart for the Test Results he made for me was the most serious he had experienced in his career, and there was nothing he could do for me. I could see he felt upset on the inside, having to tell me such news. He was a real human being.
When I heard Jesus say those words, I immediately recognised them and said to myself "Flee!? That means straight away without delay!" and before I could voice words to Him "Where, where to?" He led me to go to a Hospital Quick! I really dislike hospitals but stepped out of there with a nighty and handbag to the main road a street away in Faith, where a bus came along instantly (had I not fled, I would have missed it, no timetable and all).
It got me to the Hospital, they admitted me instantaneously on arrival and saw me to a Private Room (this was a Public Hospital) where they had two nurses on different shifts stationed in my room with me watching for "Vital Signs" for about the first 24-36hrs as I laid there with two "Drips" no foods or liquids. They did not shift their eyes from me.
It so turns out that when I was about to leave there 8-10 days later, I asked the Nurse a question "I do Natural Health Research. Tell me, how-come I had Malnutrition and Dehydration when I was having meals?" To this she replied "You have been through severe stress of some kind, ongoing, and you were not absorbing Nutrients from your Food. We did not tell you this before because the shock of hearing it would have killed you at the time - you were so frail. When you came in here, your Liver and Kidneys had stopped functioning properly. They were shutting down and you had 40 minutes left to your life." I thanked her for letting me know, and went home to my Mum's. I did not go back to what had become a "House of Bondage" to me - so aptly named.
It has been my experience at times, Jesus will bring a few words to my remembrance I can recall, that is spot-on to a matter or situation of some kind. Maybe less dramatic than the time I've mentioned in this Article because He had to get my attention in an unmistakable way then, but never-the-less very helpful.
Jesus healed me from a Broken Spirit, and provided a nice little car for me to drive. Following that, two months later after enjoying quality time with my Mum, He provided a nice rental house that was hand selected for me……. "after such an ordeal, I thought you should have space around you" the Government lady informed me. There's a little Park out the front.
So happens a previous worker rail-roaded me into the other place with some pretty harsh words, not far from the main road. That is uncommon practice, they should think before they speak. "Take this or nothing!" she said.
A few days after arrival at Mum's I experienced a Creative Healing with my ears when hearing some loud music that came on suddenly. It was a favorite song and I found myself singing to it, then realised it was full volume and my normal hearing restored.
A WORD TO DOUBTERS
If you have Athiest or Agnostic sentiments and are saying to yourself "that was just survival instincts etc" Sure, I imagined it all, I imagined these things (with the car, the medical records, the house I am living in to this day and the loud noisy work that took place for a flat-chat 40-50Mins on my roof when Solar was installed recently, with no necessity to run outside for my ears to escape). Why these things weren't sooner I know not. But I do know that Jesus certainly heard me when sitting in the loungeroom one day, something snapped. And I was so distraught, I banged the door on my way to another room, hard as I could and said to God that I'd had enough! Unbelievable, that I should do such a thing after months of taking such Care with noise of any kind, and I experienced no repercussions physically from such an act. I was beside myself and He was with me. A few days later, He stepped in to change things.
MAY I ENCOURAGE YOU?
So I say to some of you, I can't help your unbelief - you have your reasons, but I say these things to encourage some of you who are listening with open ears, I am alive this day because Jesus is who He claimed to be, whatever some Christians and churches claim to be. May I encourage you "not to throw the baby out with the bath water" He has really made a difference in my life, in the good times and not so good. I could not imagine life without this Lifetime Companion - our Creator. I can't live on mens tales and fables, but I can count on His Presence and His Words. He said to me sometime after the situation came my way "I am going to take you out of this. I am going to really bless you and make you a blessing." There were times when that was unimaginable. But I can honestly say I trusted Him - and that sustained me with Hope - until something snapped, then He took over and fulfilled His Words.
Churchy Christianity, is quite Introspective, I've found through the years. They're always focussed on how to get their needs met. Social Gospel Christianity especially - they're into finding ways to Coerce and twist His Arm to get what they want out of God. Do we really think He succumbs to such practices? Such is the practice of Wayward Preachers. Don't follow in their tracks.
However, I give you this encouragement, Our Creator doesn't mind if we address our needs with Him, He invites us to do that. It's just the ratio and focus that's wrong in many churches. Really speaking, we are best working on our Relationship with Him - blessings are an outworking of that, like a Child and a Parent in a Good Healthy Family.
THINKING OUTSIDE THE SQUARE
And what's wrong with spending a little attention on others - looking outside of our square and showing a little kindness? Observations have shown me through the years, sometime ago, that so many Churchy Christians are somewhat absorbed in getting their needs met rather than meeting someone else's need aka little things we can say or do to make a difference in someone's day. A cheery laugh with someone, lifting their day; a warm smile to let someone feel they're noticed; taking a few minutes to give a worker Feedback, making them look good in the eyes of their Employer; maybe shouting someone a cuppa like the Random Acts of Kindness group like to do;
It's really sad, I think, if they can do better like that often, don't you think? I can just imagine God thinking "no, I can't answer their prayer yet, they're being much too selfish (not giving others some thought).
Does it take someone who maybe does not know Him yet, to do better?
There's much to be said for what I call "Thinking outside the Square" a healthier practice than just thinking about yourself, and your Family. I like to think outside my square each day in some way like sending a pretty eCard someone's way, having a few Micro-Conversations in a local Shopping Centre. And this will make your day more cheerful too.
A Tip: It's better than ruminating sometimes about something that upsets us.
ENGAGING IN EXCESSIVE SERVICES
Some of you can do with some less "Services"……two on a Sunday and a third during the week whatever. Honestly, you're far too busy "at the church" to be much good to anyone outside of it. And even more importantly, your Kids are only little and young once……is it right to let them feel somewhat neglected on the weekends or rushed to Services (plural) when they have their own special needs to relate closely with you? I really respect those who can do both (give kids their rightful attention on the weekends and enjoy spending precious time with them).
Like I said earlier, Early Christian Worship was at home actually, and it was the same with Families in Israel. They only met in crowds at times of Celebrations. About time some of us take the blind-folds off. Jesus wanted Christianity to be like a Family, not an Institution. It's really refreshing when you can see that concept that is coming back in "The Restoration of ALL things" it really is.
SOCIAL GOSPEL IN MODERN CHURCHES
To the person who does not know Jesus yet I say, do not settle for doubts, and do not settle for counterfeits. I really do dislike Social Gospel, Modern Christian Churches are preaching these days. Firstly, they have denied His Presence and Sovereignty, then they have devalued His Word, and presenting a cheap shoddy gospel, something like "come to Jesus. He will give you everything you want. Join our Church. We have this, we have that………" quite honestly, a sure recipe for disilusionment if you take them seriously.
They deny Jesus Passion - what He did for us. So many "Preachers" don't share that anymore because "it may offend" whatever, and without hearing about the Redemptive work of Christ, there is no JOY of Forgiveness, and who doesn't need that these days?
So many Young People especially, who have been spent on this world. Jesus does Save, but it's His Way - and it's secure. Having the assurance of that can mean a lot for a lifetime. You never forget what it's like to find Him when you truly commit your life to Him and discover His Love for you personally.
Social Gospel denies you that. They present a gospel with no commitment - that gives you no Joy or Peace. Who wants that stuff really? They're cheapskating on God__ building their own image, promoting themselves and looking after their pay packet. That too is mentioned in the Bible, that this kind of preachers would be many, and Jesus calls them Hirelings.
So should you. If you like that kind of preaching - you should be out of there where it's healthy. The Truth is: they are not serving God, they're making merchandise of Him. What absolute Nerve. See it for what it really is - that's reprehensible! They would not do that to a loved one, yet they do that to the Lover of our Souls. If people want entertainment, they go to Entertainment Centres, don't turn the "House of God" into one!
If you were introduced to Jesus through Social Gospel, you should feel Cheated, because there are Vital Things pertaining to a True Christian Life left missing, and they really do make a difference for those who wish to find Jesus.
JESUS WAY: LOOK TO HIM, NOT TO PREACHERS
Once again, Jesus way is: He makes His Home in us and relates with us personally - we don't need a Mediator, most preachers don't walk really closely with Him these days, and you're paying them a wage to tell you what to do. Come on Christians, if you're inviting people to those kind of places. Jesus said "Follow Me" not "your Pastor" And Jesus went on to say "he/she who hears My Words and does them shall be Free indeed!"
That's the kind of Liberty you need - the one that lasts and does not short-fuse on you. Jesus doesn't do that. "Words are cheap" it's often said, so are those who are happy to mislead people. Especially young people. My advice to you is go directly to Jesus, seek Him out. And if you want to be on a Church scene, consider the recommendation I made earlier. From what I've seen through the years, they will look after you and your kids.
A METAPHOR OF PREACHERS IN CONTROL
Did you hear the story of Peter and Paul conversing in Heaven about a Pastor's Church down here? He had all the seats full most Sundays; a nice comfortable Salary; things just the way he wanted them. Then Peter and Paul felt it was time for him to move on. Don't ask me how he overheard the conversation taking place, and he exclaims "you're not shifting me. You're not taking me out of here. This is My Church, and No-one's taking it!" But Paul and Peter were saying "a Spiritual Renovation is in order" and the man was fighting against God.
There are many Preachers Jesus did not "Call to Ministry" they just thought it would be a good idea to attend a Bible School and elected themselves to Ministry. Sorry to say, Jesus didn't Call them at all.
Sad to say that isn't meant to be funny, it's a Metaphor of Preachers like that which came to me when writing. They serve to hinder the Gospel rather than promote it. Don't tell me they're in control of all the decisions you make? Some think they are, they're such "Control Freaks"…….you know, the Churches where approvals have to go through "The Pastor" before you can do anything for God?
They're not happy if they don't Control everything. And Jesus explicitly warned His followers who walked with Him "That's the way the World does things, Leaders ruling over Subordinates. And I tell you, this should not be so among you!" So most assuredly, Jesus is not happy with that system, and you need to realise that. Wakey wakey? It's a dupe, it doesn't please Jesus at all, because it isn't His Way at all. That's His rightful place, and He gives His approvals from Heaven when He is happy for you to do something.
And by the way, most times, you are the one in the Best position to know how Jesus is leading you. So you hear from Jesus on a Firsthand basis, not secondhand. That's the way He likes it. Try reading His Words more often - not just the ones "your Pastor" gives you in sermons. Practice some independence in Seeking Jesus and experience a closer Relationship with Him - like someone with a happy marriage, you will be glad you did. You ask me how-come I get such leadings sometimes? This grows over time. Then most times you know that you know you heard from Him.
This is the Essence of True Christian Living is all about.
As long as there are so many who like to Rule things "In the Ministry" and misleading Social Gospel Preachers, Christianity will never look good. As long as they hold the Fort and won't budge. As long as the Constantine system of Local Churches persist, Christianity is unrelatable to most, and even seen as obnoxious in the eyes of many good living people. Maybe their vision is a little clearer than yours, when you are involved, they see those things as unhealthy. So should you.
A WORD FROM JESUS APPLICABLE TODAY
"The Blind Can't Lead The Blind"
Jesus referred to Jewish Religious Leaders of His Day as Blind Guides. It wasn't as if they did not have and believe in the Word of God - they did, but they considered Rules and Regulations they had made up, of equal importance - if not more. Because they literally preserved God's Word through the generations but they became more concerned about Traditions and often imposed them. They even attempted this with Jesus' Disciples. They liked to play the Leader.
This so typifies "Christian Leaders" and Pastors Today: they tell you that you must have their Leadership and go to a Local Church; it is wrong if you don't do that; you must obey the Oversight; anything you wish to do for God must have their approval, etc.
When Jesus said to Preach the Gospel, that was to Share Glad Tidings (in the original translation) and that's exactly what Early Christians did - not ear-bashing or entertaining. They never told anyone to go anywhere, but people wished to be with them when they saw the Peace and Joy they had and the Change in their Lives people crave for.
He never said to impose on people's wishes or harass them with the Bible or godly standards. But Jesus did say to Shine Our Light (His Presence, His Peace and Love, His Blessings). Not to show "how religious we are" or "how worldly we can be" not how churchy, judgemental, hypocritical or phony. His Words were "let your Light Shine before people in such a way that they will see your good actions and glorify your Father in Heaven."
The Early Christians had that. Because they lived the Life and lived in the Blessings. Christians need to return to that which is JESUS MAKING and stop persisting with that which He didn't make. Don't ask Him to approve of what He did not Commission and saying "Lord send us Revival, We want Revival" because if you listen properly, you will hear Him say "I'm not into Church Revivals, I gave you the Blueprint. Follow Me!"
Remember, that System you're asking Him to Bless goes back to Constantine. He's waiting for Christians to Wake up__ "My terms, not your terms"
TRYING TO PRESERVE WHAT IS NOT FROM HIM
I put it to you that Christianity has Changed the Recipe. Excuse me, that is Jesus Recipe, and the only one that wins His Favour. The only one He will really Bless. You need to return to that. People need to find their way to Him and you're "Playing Church" .............. they need those Lights Shining where they are, not hid in Church Buildings - Bless Me Clubs - they wish to See Jesus.
There is a Lesson here: if we as Christians are blind to our Religious state of affairs, how can we really help others who are blind? (haven't discovered Jesus yet). Honestly, Christianity is just so selfish sometimes ie "Lord bless this Church....... Bless Us....... Lord Bless Us" Can you see the Emphasis is wrong?
SIMPLE FELLOWSHIP: A GOOD WAY TO GO
Personally for me, I like simple get-togethers like the Home Churches, where some Christians get together, they pray, sing and chat together and share a meal round a table, like Jesus did with His followers and they did later with each-other in His absence. Yes that was the practice, the Life and Essence of Christianity.
There isn't one I can find in my area, but that Movement is Growing - and those who attend one show more commitment and Purpose than those I've seen attending Local Churches - and they are Enjoying it too.
You will have some idea what's right for you.
TO BALANCE YOUR EXPECTATIONS
The Jesus I've been speaking about is not a Santa-Christ because He did those things for me - they certainly weren't overnight, however He proved Himself to be True. He does some pretty neat things sometimes and He knows what's right for each one of you. Through the years He has answered prayers - not all of them:) He will know best how to lead and guide you through this life, and He can do this best when your Focus is toward Him - no middle man - it's really just that personal. And like any Good Parent, the Closer and Faithful you Walk with Him, He will be happy to answer your prayer and/or reward you here and there.
He doesn't like when people just seek to take advantage - He is not silly:)
SOME SPECIAL WORDS FOR YOU
In His Word, He says to each-one of us "Acquaint yourself with Me and be at Peace, thereby My Goodness will come to you" we need to keep entering in to that Close Relationship with Him, like we do/should with a Loved One. There's no point in playing 'hide and seek' with our Creator (neglecting our Walk with Him, then running to Him every now and then with a whole lot of requests) If you're like that, you are missing out on the Best Gift of All - His Presence. If you don't feel that way inclined, you have not yet experienced that wonderful sense of His Presence.
So there's the Two Accounts of Christianity, I had to share with you today.
Is this just the way I see things? No, that's just the way it is.
Am I a perfect judge of humanity?
No, I'm just a little more discerning than most. Would that we all practice the Wisdom we are called to.
May things go well with all who read this article, and your loved ones.