bonar crump

bonar crump
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Monday, August 30, 2010

Jesus Is Not a "Christian"

So it appears that what I'm reading alot about lately is the spiritual categorization of people into two primary groups.
  1. Believers maintaining their traditional understanding of what it means to honor, serve, and worship a true and living God via the institutional organized system of religion known at "church" / Christianity.
  2. Non-believers rejecting a system of organized religion which is in the throws of a massive systemic shutdown of vital organs.
The church-going believers are dealing with real life issues involving faith, family, and financial survival. These are real people that pray for help, struggle with their faith, and wrestle with the purpose of it all. They are not delusional or stupid or ignorant of how the world operates. They're trying to do the best they can with managing their marriages, raising their kiddos, and dealing with all the struggles and challenges which come with life in general. Life isn't easy for these folks. They don't always win. They don't always experience joy or peace or even contentment. They seek help. They seek friendships. They seek love. What defines this group from the other is their hope and belief that there is a greater reality and one who has created that reality that they refer to as God.

The non-believer is dealing with life the same as the believer. The difference between these folks and the believer crowd is the absence of a belief in a greater reality. What you see is what you get. Seems pretty

 simple and straightforward. It's really hard to argue against someone who can physically point at what they believe in.

This is all a long way round the bush to arrive at the conclusion that we're talking about the same two people with one believes there is a God...the other does not believe there is a God. And if that were the end of the discussion we could simply go on our way appreciating the differing POV of each and let dead dogs lie.

Here's my problem--that's not the only difference between the Christian and the atheist. The atheist has advantages that will always make them sound smarter and seem more pragmatic. The atheist will always have the upper hand in the debate. They will always be more at peace with their understanding. They will always win on the field of verbal debate. Why are they so much better equipped to handle the issues than the Christians? What is their trump card?

The trump card is this...organized religion stinks. As long as the average Christian is hardwired to believe that their relationship/connection with God begins and ends by plugging themselves into a local congregation known as a Christian "church" then the atheist wins the discussion. As long as the average Christian is convinced that the most effective gauge of their obedience to God is the level, or success, of their involvement in a local Christian "church" then the atheist comes out smelling like a rose.

Conversely, when a believer like Anne Rice, who has recently been championed as the "poster child" of quitting Christianity "in the name of Christ," defects from the institutional confines of the religious machine, we see a wonderful transition: believer OF Christ becomes believer IN Christ. The genius of renouncing one's affiliation with the religion, known as the structured belief system, is that one is no longer accountable for the actions of others in the group. If I'm not on the team anymore then I don't have to defend the play of the team. If they suck then they suck. I'm no longer responsible for making excuses for or explaining away the behaviors of teammates on a team that I no longer belong to.

So, we're seeing a third group of people resurrected from the death of religion--the believer who chooses to take off the jersey of religion and seek an alliance with and understanding of God via a one-on-one relationship rather than via the filtering system of organized religion. It doesn't matter to these folks whether they are called a "Christian" or not...that's part of the old team jersey. These folks are free from the intense scrutiny of generic "Christian" behavior. They can walk freely amongst the atheist, have dinner with the homosexuals, speak peace unto the Muslims, and generally function independently of organizational expectations designed to create generic Christians in a non-generic world.

Being a part of Christ (IN Christ) has to mean something akin to acting like Him. I know it's tempting to think that if we follow the direction of the "church" then we will be following the direction of Christ, but that's not true. It's idolatry plain and simple. Anything that stands between the believer and the God that they believe in is a false god even if it's wearing a picture of the true God on it's shirt.

I have known and still know many in the clergy. I love you guys/gals and I hope that your efforts are not entirely in vain. I know many devout church-going Christians that are resolute in their devotion to religion and all that it entails. I love you guys/gals and I long to see you unchained from the bondage of a false god. I'm actually in awe of the determination of church-going Christians and their leaders who continue to serve a system which is so indefensible and loathsome...I don't know how they can continue to do so. But my guess is that they don't know of any other options.

When you've been hardwired to see God only one way it can be a gut-wrenching journey to redefine who God is to you instead of listening to someone else tell you what God should be to you. I suspect that one of Satan's most coveted lies is that either you stay with the religion or you give up on God altogether. I'm guessing that this one keeps many captive to a false god of rules, activities, and prejudices that have nothing at all to do with a loving, redeeming, nurturing God capable of creating beautiful waterfalls, life-filled coral reefs, and variety in nature so impressively diverse and genuinely precious.

Likewise, there are those that hate the slavery of religion so much that they find immense peace in leaving it behind even if they have to leave behind the belief in a God altogether. If there is an evil in this world, that is what it looks like. Substituting a spiritual true-false exam in place of the essay question which is one's faith--that is some evil stuff!

Don't serve the false gods of this world. Serve each other. Don't serve the system. Serve the people. Don't bow at the foot of a cross. Bow at the foot of your friend or family member and ask forgiveness for the times you weren't available to them. Take care of your finances. Don't finance the building of false gods. Make sure to listen to the ideas and beliefs of others so that your own beliefs can be refined and you can learn from those previously labelled as your "enemy". Embrace, pray for, and serve those prior "enemies" and learn how to be their friends.

Post-religious (PR) believers are on even ground with the atheist. We can respect each other's perspectives. And the resulting inefficacies of the religious Christian are no longer a part of the debate. Belief in God does not produce despicable results--belief in and service to a religious system (false god) does. The atheists have much to teach us about regaining our pragmatism. They can lead us back to the world of reality predicated by using some common sense and listening to that inner voice we all have that directs us toward good stuff instead of bad stuff.

For religious Christians that put any stock in Scripture, take heed of your own "owner's manual." If the fruit (result) of the Spirit of God is "love, joy, peace, longsuffering (patience), gentleness (kindness), goodness, faith (faithfulness), meekness and temperance (self-control)" then your religious system is a false god [Gal 5:22-23]. If these are the result of engaging and encountering God, then you guys aren't encountering God. The absence of these things is why so many are running from the "church" and some are giving up on the notion of God altogether. If we use a little logical pragmatic thought which we gain from the atheist we have to acknowledge that either the religion is not representative of God or else God does not exist.

"[George] Barna isn't the only worried evangelical. Christian activist Ronald J. Sider writes in his book, The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience: 'By their daily activity, most "Christians" regularly commit treason. With their mouths they claim that Jesus is their Lord, but with their actions they demonstrate their allegiance to money, sex, and personal self-fulfillment.'"
William Lobdell - LA Times - August 08, 2010 "The Anne Rice defection: It's the tip of the religious iceberg"
This is the result of worshipping a false god (religion), but it's being perceived by many as the result of worshipping a non-existent god. As long as we continue to operate as if religion = God, then we are linking God to the pugnacious intolerance of the religion of Christianity.

Former minister, Jim Stacey, writes in Jesus Was Not a Christian, "The Divine is not found in a book, a building, or a religion. That connection is like a flowing river.
 'If you try to capture running water in a bucket, it is clear that you do not understand it and that you will always be disappointed, for in the bucket the water does not run. To 'have' running water you must let go of it and let it run. The same is true of life and of God.'"

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