People have a view of God as Chief Disciplinarian. We fear getting out of line and doing things wrong for fear that He will zap us. Many go through life in fear of judgment and going to hell for their sins which, the more serious we get, most find to be inescapable. Others use that fear, that description of God as Judge, to get their followers to adhere to certain behaviors. (Manipulate much?)

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s2smodern

One of the downsides of all religion is that religious people have their own sets of rules or definitions of what that religion is all about. Jesus’ disciples were first called “Christians” at Antioch, Acts 11:26 tells us (meaning that Jesus did not start a new religion called “Christianity”). When the Body of Christ, the family of God, the ecclesia, was retrofitted, artificially, into a new “religion” – a “church” – by Constantine and others, “Christianity” in the process became associated with, and largely defined by, various sets of rules about what it meant to be a “Christian.” Now we have almost 2000 years of religion, but are we as a result any closer to the savior – Jesus, the Christ – for whom this “religion” is, ostensibly, named?

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s2smodern

I haven’t been away … but an old trusty device checked out on me, having been replaced now by some new things that I’m still just learning how to use. Following, therefore, are some assorted thoughts that I’ve recorded, mostly while driving, since I last checked in on this page:

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s2smodern

If you fail to lead in the area where God has made you to be a leader, you are like a seeing person who refuses to open his eyes … or a hearing person with his fingers in his ears shouting, “Njah-njah-njah-njah-njah-njah!”

You are, then, truly like a fish out of water … or a bird with no feathers.

Sent to the game, you fail to check in and you miss your at-bat.

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s2smodern

How many want or have wanted to be saved so that they will go to heaven rather than hell when they die, and that literally is the extent of their perception of the value of their salvation?

Surely, to them, to go to church on Sunday is probably necessary in order for them to maintain any sense of ongoing connectivity with the whole Christianity idea.

But the faith of followers of Christ is – or ought to be – about a lot more.

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s2smodern

James 4:17 says, “Therefore, to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”

We’re not talking about a “churchy” sin here: not being there every time the church doors are open, not putting your money in the offering plate, or disobeying your pastor … No, we’re talking about sin as sin actually is: not a breaking of some (man-made) rule, but missing the mark. God’s got a calling for – a mark on – you; miss it, miss the mark, and it’s sin.

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s2smodern

So, someone is telling you what to do (and you’re not a child, and he’s not your parent). The truth is, unless you are violating the law of God, the only thing that gives that person any authority over you is your agreement to grant him authoritative status. He has no true (“because I said so”) authority.

The lesson of scripture (I Cor. 7:21) is that we should avoid people and institutions that presumptively assume authority over us if we have the opportunity. We have no king but Jesus!

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s2smodern

Don’t be defined by what you’re AGAINST but by what you’re FOR.

Sometimes the contrast is so stark, it’s hard not to see the negative first. And sometimes those who oppose highlight the negative to paint us with a bad, anti-social brush.

Trump’s wall, for example, is being painted as anti-family and un-American when it is reasonably understood as a needed protection for those who lawfully reside on this side of it.

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s2smodern

That place in your mind that nobody else knows about – that’s where God knows you best.

Those things you think that you think nobody else would ever imagine – that’s the you – the REAL you – that God knows.

David wrote, “Lord, you know everything there is to know about me. You perceive every movement of my heart and soul, and you understand my every thought before it even enters my mind. You are so intimately aware of me, Lord. You read my heart like an open book and you know all the words I’m about to speak before I even start a sentence!” (Psalm 139:1-4, TPT)

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s2smodern

… So the song says. And see which one is dominant?

Do is in the land of command. It is avoidance of error. It is concerned with what others think. It seeks to reach heaven by works, by man’s merit. It struggles to “be” salt and light.

Be doesn’t worry about Do. It just is. It IS salt and it IS light. The salt does nothing to become salt (though one can spoil it by “doing,” making it unsavory and worthless) and the light does nothing to become light (though one can hide it by “doing,” placing it under a bushel basket so that the world can no longer see what it is). It is state of being, not action verbs.

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s2smodern

It’s not in the Bible, yet Christian people believe that “going to” or “becoming a member of” it is something that they are supposed to do … that doing those things is part of their relationship to God in that He, somehow, requires it of them. In fact, many do so as their primary means of relating to Him. Which is weird. For going to church to do business with God is about like going to McDonalds to develop a relationship with a farmer. It is, in fact, a fig leaf.

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s2smodern

It is “human nature” to think of oneself frequently, if not nonstop. But who really thinks of us anything like the way that we think of ourselves? Virtually no other human, nor would any, even if one had the ability to get into our heads and think our same thoughts. But the one Person who knows us the way that we want to be known is God above. The One who thinks about us as much as we think about ourselves is only our God. In fact, God thinks more about us than we think about ourselves. Imagine THAT! He thinks about us the way that we WANT to be known, even when we ourselves don’t know what that is. He knows our thoughts before we think them, and He cares about the truth about us. He believes the best about us (even more than we do: He never gets depressed about us, able to think only negative), so much so that He sent His Son to die for us because He saw us as worthy of redemption (that’s our being excused from the penalty owed for our own intentional wrong doing). He knows what He has planned for His children, and it’s ALL good – way better than we could imagine!

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s2smodern

If in the New Testament there was no church as we know it today (and there was not), there was no “church planting” per se in the New Testament, either. If what we call “church” in the New Testament was not a corporate entity (and it was not), then it cannot be considered biblical to engage in planting corporate entities called churches. But church planting is another of those things about church that people just assume to be biblical, either of command or example, when it is neither.

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s2smodern

When Jesus chose “ecclesia” (in the Roman Latin; “ekklesia” in the Greek) as the structure He was to give His family, His followers, His believers, after Him, He knew exactly what He had in mind. What’s more, those who heard Him say it also knew what he was talking about because ecclesia was a term for a contemporary entity that they all understood.

What was this “ecclesia,” a version of which Jesus said that He would build as His own and citation of which His listening disciples would immediately understand? Was it a religious institution … or something else?

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s2smodern

The opinions of others – or, more to the point, caring about the opinions of others – is killing Christians.

So-and-so will be offended if I do … or go … or sing … or wear … or associate with … or go to THAT church (or DON’T go to that church) or (even) be friendly with someone who goes to that church … THAT, my friends, is a religious spirit. It is the letter of the law (and not even the actual law itself but someone’s interpretation of it) that, scripture tells us, killeth. The Spirit, on the other hand, comes to bring life.

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s2smodern

A friend asked me recently why it is, after all that church is (and is not, but claims to be) and has done to us, I would ever go back to one. My answer: Because it’s about the people, not the church.

A church has rules, and that’s partly of necessity. That’s the business part of it. (Church is, first of all, a business.) Turn the lights out when you leave, don’t leave the doors standing open in the winter, don’t jump on the pews, don’t carve on the piano, don’t (if it’s Baptist) give to Methodist causes, etc.

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s2smodern
Mike Scruggs