What’s In A Name?

Tunnel_Of_LoveWhat’s In A Name?

Christian – a believer in Jesus Christ and his teachings; one who lives according to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

Since 2002, we have been out of the ‘church building’ and out of ‘institutional church”. When the revelation hit us in 2002 that we are the church, Christ in us, we simply walked away from a certain form of ‘church’. One can say we left church, but we really did not leave church. We may have left a form but the revelation of the church and the Body of Christ has intensified in our hearts for many years. With each passing year, we become more and more aware of the beauty and the mystery of Christ and His Bride. The Body of Christ is a miracle and we saw it OUT of the confines of religion. We believe in the church of Jesus Christ.

Colossians 1: 15-19  We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. 16 For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels– everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. 17 He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. 18 And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body. He was supreme in the beginning and– leading the resurrection parade– he is supreme in the end. From beginning to end he’s there, towering far above everything, everyone. 19 So spacious is he, so roomy, that everything of God finds its proper place in him without crowding

Over the years, we have fellowshipped with small groups of people in homes. We have developed some strong relationships of accountability and continue to be in love with Jesus Christ. A shift happened a few years ago when I began to see that God was pulling us out even further as we began to fellowship with many different people, with diverse belief systems.  Our purpose was not to be drawn away from Christianity as much as it was to take Christ into wherever we were going in life.

ColorfulWith our focus on the Lord and our belief in His love for people, we did not feel at all uncomfortable with people that drank, cussed, swore, slept around, or lived with other members of the opposite sex. Then we started having dinner with Muslims, Buddhists, Pakistanis, Indians or Africans. Then along came the lesbians and the homosexuals and even the bisexual and transvestites. Then what followed were more people, simple people whom Jesus Christ died for and whom He loves with an unconditional love.  Many showed us their honest feelings about Christianity and what they perceived it to be. When I simply walked in the peace of Jesus Christ without condemnation and lots of love, they kept talking and we kept listening. Most of the past year or so, I have been also been around a lot of people who don’t like the church at large, hate the church, find the church irrelevant, don’t think about it or stereotype her in many ways. Without saying it at times, their impressions of Christians are quite humorous. Some have been raised in church but would not walk into one now at any cost. Some or should I say many, especially among the 30-somethings, may even challenge us on topics of social justice and how they feel the church is totally irrelevant and bigoted. Many test us, trying to see if we are gay haters, hypocrites, religious right-wingers that equate Christianity with American patriotism and Republicanism. Woo-hoo what a ride over the past years! So what is the outcome of all this relationship diversity?

Christian – that is something that I don’t even want people to know I am at times. I am being serious here. Why? Simply because they equate the name Christian, for the most part, with anything but Christ and what the reality of the Gospel truly is. I find myself over and over having to qualify the simple fact that we are just preaching Jesus and the simplicity of the Gospel. Most find this interesting because they often tell us or show us by their expression, that this is not what they find Christianity to be as they observe the current condition of the church at large. So, in some respect, we feel we are continually taking the hits as we venture forth in a bold grace message of forgiveness and love extended to people, no matter who they are. There is a simplicity in Jesus Christ in you, that permeates every atmosphere you find yourself in, at any time.  The subtlety and sometimes forthrightness of our speech and actions always conveys some simple truths. God loves you. He sent His Son to die in your place so that you have life in Christ.

At times, I bristle when I tell people that I am a Christian because of the connotations that that term implies. I look past their judgment and simply relax and breathe in their presence, not trying to prove anything but just BEING Jesus Christ to them without judgment or condemnation or a Bible to pound over their head. Just because I don’t have to declare everything I believe does not mean I compromise my convictions or water down this glorious Gospel. I am simply following the Holy Spirit in loving the individual or individuals. And in the process I am seeing my eyes open to greater and greater dimensions of the Father’s love for me and for others. I was hard-core black and white some years ago in what I believed. Gray areas were for those who simply did not have enough faith or conviction to know the truth. Now I know that life is filled with shadows that we don’t really understand. Yet God knows us through and through and loves us with an everlasting love.

Out into the void goes my heartfelt feelings that if I could eliminate the word Christian I would. Just a personal thought! Yet we can’t do that so I wholly prefer to call myself a follower of Jesus Christ and a lover of my Savior. That sounds a lot better to me and it opens the ears of many to wonder, ask questions and listen. Out into the world I go. I am at peace and at rest and able to articulate the depths of my heart. Perhaps you may not relate to this. That is okay. I am in process and when this process ends, onto the next one I go. I look forward to the journey. 

15 thoughts on “What’s In A Name?

  1. Hi, it is interesting because we were led out of the “organized church in a building with a sign on the door” in 2002. My two friends and I were actually kicked out of a church because we I told the pastor I needed a break from the worship team and he told me to get back up where I belong (sternly). I didn’t. I really needed a break. I didn’t go to church that Sunday. I was told the preacher told the congregation that day to look around and whoever wasn’t there, not to have anything to do with them. That was one of many “controlling” situations I finally exited and ran from. I went through hell and back in my mind and questioned everything I ever was taught and had believed in. It was excruciating pain! In 2013, after walking many mountains and valleys; I, like you, appreciate the worldview the Holy Spirit is creating in me through his incredible friendship. I have experienced love and grace for people and like you, listened to their distaste for “churchy’ people. The reactions to the presidential race was a prime example of the attitudes of “churchy people” that the non-Christians and lukewarm Christians justify their decisions to stay away from church and Christians. Nevertheless, the Lord has likewise revealed to me the necessity of loving all people, and not judging the “churchy” people; yet praying for them to have a revelation of the LOVE Christ wants us to walk in and demonstrate in the earth. I have missed having a support system-mine is very small-however, the one I have is genuine and I thank God that he is showing me that he has been working on the hearts of many in the last decade! God Bless!

    • Thanks Donita……….there is power in love. Love expressed can be vocal or just through listening and caring enough to listen to those who even distastefully disagree with you. What it has done for me, this whole life of mine, is to teach me to love more and let God handle what needs to be handled in His time and in His way. I come from a background of such stress and so much arguing growing up that I loved to argue and debate and challenge. As God began to soften me, I felt compromised when I could not tell people what I thought as if I had the last word. I am secure in Christ and that will not be shaken and I feel no need to force Him down anyone’s throat. There are so many diverse ways to speak forth, show forth, His love.

  2. Amen: Grace is not just something to preach about or to just talk about. It is Jesus in Action through us. Jesus did not condemn, criticize, judge, or stop loving the rich man when the rich man chose the materialistic over Him. He did not tell the rich man that he would not receive eternal life with Him. He did not call him a hypocrite, greedy, and especially Christ did not talk badly about him…. Instead Jesus, as grace in action, continued to show love towards the rich man. In simple words to add to what Debra wrote, we allowed and will continue to allow Jesus, AS GRACE IN ACTION, to flow through us without any compromising, without any talking about another because they may disagree with us, without condemning others because they may not be following Christ, but with the love of God flowing through us.

    • In reading the article that I stated above, I would have to agree with so much of what you said. I was an A/G pastor years ago and we left the system in 2002 as I stated. For years I left in the natural, but my heart was still in tune with the religious gatherings and we often felt ‘left out”. So I came out of the institutional religious atmosphere BUT it had not come out of me. 🙂 So finally after years, I have NO desire to go back and often, as I am confronted with that system and its totally lack of focus on the centrality of Christ, I can speak to it, when I am called by God to do so, OR i can let it be which I am seeing now more and more is my opinion. I have traveled the world and ministered in Africa for 8 years and I have seen so much, just as this article said. Then grace awakened me to the truth of the the Gospel and again I am challenged to let go of the extraneous garbage and keep Christ central and focused. Right now, my husband and I are looking for a fellowship, having just returned to SoCal BUT after searching and searching, we are trusting God and just staying home to worship until the Spirit leads us somewhere where the people have no desire but to love and honor Jesus Christ without the foundational pull to be better and to build bigger and to stretch further out to be seen. I am personally sick of it in every way BUT not weary of the Body of Christ and it is out there. 🙂

      • Thanks for sharing your thoughts and heart! I see so much that is done in GOD’s name that is not found in the Bible as well. While we are told to not forsake the assembling of believers, oftentimes those who seek power and money from others use that one verse as a bully club to build mega-churches and waste GOD’s money on things that GOD never said we were supposed to do … the real tragedy is that the things He did say for us to do are going undone .. due to time and money having been so spent on the cathedral club. Living in obedience through Christ, including sharing His Gospel, so that HE gets glory is so important!!!! 🙂

      • Every lived in the Dallas or Okalahoma area…..when we lived there for just a few years, we realized we had enough when I was in a Bible study and people were talking about being a Republican and being a Christian. They were furious with me when I asked a simple question. Is God more grieved over the death of people in the Twin Towers than the large numbers of people that die from starvation or AIDS in Africa? Have we cornered the market in America on God’s favor and focus? They almost drove me out of town. I am not exaggerating as much as the simmple fact that when I even think about what you wrote or on what we have gone through, I almost have to scream and that would not be too cool while sitting in Starbucks. Looking forward to reading more of what you write.

      • Thanks so much for the encouragement! What drives me forward is a great desire to not leave this life empty-handed for the Master! I do not wish to waste the remainder of my life fulfilling man-made rituals and requirements for man-centered mega-churches and mega-pastors, but instead hope to use it speaking with as many lost souls as possible in need of the Gospel of Christ. We do attend a gathering, but not in an extra-Biblical legalistic fashion. 🙂

      • Keep on moving forward. Do not get bogged down in the garbage that currently exists in the church at large BUT you can make a difference by BEING in Christ, wherever you go, whoever you talk to……..Christianity is exciting. It’s Christians that make it boring and mundane. Because of the passion in your heart to seek the Lord, it’s a done deal. No striving is needed. Just abide in the finished work of the cross and move out. Christ in YOU the hope of glory always makes a way. Will read more on your blog also.

    • Hi Carol! I want to say one more thing that hit me when I read your comment. You said you are not “there” yet. But, in actuality, you are there for wherever the Lord has you at any given time, you are already there. He gives you what you exactly can handle and i believe that with every fiber of my being. I had to believe that when I felt misplaced. So you are ‘there’ in the Lord and in that place you don’t have to strive but to find Him right where He is.

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