© 2008 Deidre Campbell-Jones
April Theme: Life
My Life: Romans 3:23
His Life: 2 Corinthians 5:17
Religious excuses, spiritual excuses, church excuses, Jesus excuses – they are all the different types of excuses given for rejecting the Gospel of Christ.
Now, I’m not talking about science excuses, probability excuses, evolution excuses or dinosaur excuses that discount the existence of God. I’m talking about people who will concede there is a higher power, who will admit there is a creative being that created the heavens and the Earth and probably all that is in it. I’m talking about people who will allow for the “Big Man in charge”, the “Man up there,” the “Big Guy” or a kind-of sentient “Universe” that gives power to the words we “put out there.”
These are the people I’ve been discussing who are “spiritual,” who are not “religious,” who will even say they believe in God, but… and that “but” is generally followed with a religious-based excuse or a spiritually-based excuse, a Jesus-based excuse and most popular, the church-based excuse.
At my 2nd church home, here in LA, years ago – the Pastor made a statement that I have plagiarized and used time and time again. “If you’re looking for the perfect church and you find it, once you get there it won’t be perfect any more.”
All too often – and I mean that literally – people blame the reason they don’t want to get to know Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, on the people who go to church. They say they are hypocrites – guess what, so does the bible – so did Jesus! They say they are fake, unloving, judgmental and condemning – and so does the bible! The definition of “Christian” is not some perfect individual who is like Christ in every way. Instead a Christian should be trying to be a perfect individual who is like Christ in every way. But the bible says ALL (except Christ) have sinned and come short of the glory of the Lord – Romans 3:23
We as Christians are not perfect and cannot be perfect although we are told to strive for perfection. We are called the sick, the lost, the brokenhearted and we are to gather together for healing, to find one another and to fellowship in love – the Love of Christ. It is when we who are called out according to the love of Christ, are gathered together in fellowship – that is when we become the ecclesia – the called out body of believers.
You see, when Paul began establishing churches he was establishing churches in various cities, but he didn’t go with a million dollar building fund and meet with Architects to draw up designs for an even bigger cathedral style building than the one built in the last city over.
No, instead Paul taught the Word of God. And as the people came together to listen and to learn, they began to fellowship with one another, and help one another and be healed of their physical, emotional and spiritual brokenheartedness together. And when people are sick, they need a physician. If you are spiritually sick or emotionally sick, you need a professional in those areas too. The early churches were believers who healed and helped one another as professionals in spiritual and emotional illnesses. The church is still supposed to be that very same thing.
If you go to a “church” building and everyone is healthy emotionally and spiritually then either that church is a really good church and you should stay and get some more of that, or there is no need for that church any longer. Those church members should disband and go out and join other churches where there are still emotional and spiritually sick believers and unbelievers and do the miraculous work there that they did at their old church.
You see, the church is not a building filled with hypocrites and judgmental spiritual bullies… well it’s not supposed to be. The church is not a building at all – it is not the huge, welcoming front door, the stained glass windows, the seats no one is supposed to sit in except the church leaders, or the untouchable altar. If you want those things, go to Temple – that is where God ordained them to be. The church was ordained to be people. I am the church. I am livin’ The Life!
I am a Christian – I am of Christ. I am a disciple of Christ – I am a follower of His ways. I am the church – I have been called out by my belief in Christ to fellowship with and help other believers in Christ. So, when you talk about the church you are right, but you are not right about every church. It is exactly the same as talking about a race of people or a group of people – you may be right, but you won’t be right about everyone.
And so, it is my job as a Christian not to be one that you would be right about. I want to carry my big, impressive welcome door around in my smile. I want my beautiful stained glass windows to show in my eyes. I want every seat to be reserved especially for you whenever I have a conversation with you – I invite you to the altar of my heart and listen to the sermon of my life.
I believe in Jesus. I didn’t always. I wasn’t even sure I believed in God, but just in case He did exist, I wouldn’t entirely deny Him completely. I thought religion was a crutch for people who needed a way to handle their problems. I didn’t consider it a bad way – just their way. But I was also lonely – I didn’t have a lot of friends – close trusting friends – no matter how much anyone said I was funny, fun, friendly or any other thing.
And I was searching for myself – I was sure I had some kind of a purpose and didn’t understand why I couldn’t accomplish it no matter how much anyone said I was talented, gifted or capable of doing anything. My life didn’t match what people said about me, and it didn’t match what I felt inside.
Then one day there was some serious mess going down in my life. I was backed into a corner and I was desperate for some kind of crutch that would help me handle my problem. And before the problem was over, the knucklehead who was ‘causing me this problem asked me “Do you believe in Jesus?” Through the midst of my tears, I said “yes”. “Do you believe he was born of a virgin?” I said “yes” again.” Do you believe He died on the cross for your sins?” I cried even harder and answered “yes” again. “Do you believe He rose again on the third day so that you can have everlasting life?” I sobbed – yes – yes, I really did. I hung up on that boy and I got on my knees by my bed and I prayed for the first time really.
And I told God I didn’t understand what was happening to me. But that if He would get me out of that mess, I promised that I would find out what had just happened to me and I would never turn away from Him and flake out like I seemed to do in every other thing in my life.
And God seemed to like that deal and He accepted my bargain, He accepted me and He sent His Spirit to live within me. I could feel it – I can still feel it. The Holy Spirit is a living, spiritual being and He lives in me. I am a new creation. “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation; all things are passed away, behold all is become brand new” 2 Corinthians 5:17. I am brand new. I am the church of the living Lord. I am living the Life!
Sometimes I don’t always pay the light bill in my church, but it is my job to let my light shine. Sometimes my church is in need of a paint job, but it is my job to let men see my good works. Sometimes I don’t always welcome my visitors, but it is my job to love my neighbor as I love myself. Sometimes I am harsh and judgmental of my fellow believers and non-believers, but it is my job to comfort with the same comfort I have been comforted with. And sometimes newcomers can’t feel the Holy Spirit at my church, but it is still my job to love the Lord my God with all my heart, and all my soul and all my might – Deuteronomy 6:5
I am the church and it is my mandate to “go ye therefore into all the world” preaching, teaching, making disciples and baptizing in the name of Jesus Christ.
I am the church and I welcome you to fellowship with me. Here is my church doctrine: Jesus IS the only begotten Son of God. He was born of a virgin and died on the cross for the remission of our sins. He rose from the dead on the 3rd day so that we could have life everlasting. He has gone to prepare a place for us because for those of us who believe, this is not our home. And one day the Lord Jesus will return and He will catch up those who believe and carry us away to the place in which He has prepared – on that day we will be in Paradise with the Lord.
I hope and pray to see you there.
Power, love & peace -