When I moved out and away from anything remotely resembling organized religion, shame and guilt tried to move into my life. I felt disqualified. Over time I began to see that God alone qualifies me. I am not qualified by being a member of a church. I am not even qualified by being in a church. I am the church. I am qualified by just BEING in Christ. That is a great place to live.
Unfortunately, the church today disqualifies many based on externals alone. An answer of ‘no’ to any of these questions and bam, they stamp on you ‘DISQUALIFIED’. Any answer that cuts against religious form in which they determine that you are a perceived lone ranger and bam, they stamp on you ‘DISQUALIFIED’. Look at whom Jesus picked. Look at how Jesus moved. Enough said.
The pertinent questions: Are you covered? Who is your covering? Who are you accountable to? Do you attend a church? Did they send you out? Did you leave in good standing? What are your beliefs?
No, I am not covered by a denomination or an organization. Jesus is my covering.
Yes I am accountable to many whom God calls me to walk with and alongside in life. My relationships are formed by the Spirit just like Jesus did in His life.
Define church. You asked me if I attend a church. Define church. Does it count when I meet with a small group of people over the course of 5 years? Our numbers do not go above 8 but we know each other through and through and have walked through life together in every way. Is that church? Or what about meeting in Starbucks and simply talking to people that are seeking the Lord? Is that church? Define church.
Do you get the picture? I am not advocating rebellion or independence. But, for many years I lived in shame thinking that because I left the church I was disqualified to speak to the church, for the church, or as the church. How can I leave the church when I am the church with Christ in me, the hope of glory? Years ago changed my perspective quite a bit. The lens of conformity and tradition fell from my eyes like scales. The lens of performance and program fell off instantly.
Define church. How can it actually be defined? I know I may stir up anger in many reading into what I am saying. You may have thought you knew me and now you know you don’t.
Here’s the deal. My love for the mystery, the beauty and the creativity of the Body of Christ has intensified with a passion when I was able to look at it without the lens of religion, charismatic form, or a denominational bent. That was not possible when I was in the system. I missed the forest for the trees. Forgive the cliché.
I do not feel self-righteous in any way. I don’t think, “I have it. They don’t.” Despite my journey of being a forerunner, I know that God is still healing my life, ministering to me daily, and loving me always. He has kept me from bitterness and anger in my heart when religion or tradition blinded me from the Lord Himself. I have walked out to walk into a broad place of intimacy in Christ. More to come.