Many love the song: Give me that Old Time Religion: it was good for our fathers, and it’s good enough for me!
May I suggest that “good enough” is not really good enough? And, further, when the song says, “It will take us all to heaven,” that’s a flat-out lie. No religion will ever take anyone to heaven; only one’s redemption through the shed blood of Jesus Christ will do that.
But the song does serve to illustrate the problem with church: it’s about outward show, works, doing things, not about truly belonging to the Body of Christ.
The church is not the Body of Christ. YOU may be the Body of Christ, but your being in a building, at any time, doing whatever you do there, even with God’s people, is not even evidence that you are part of the Body of Christ.
The Body of Christ is defined by one thing, and one thing only: Jesus Christ is resident in you. You are part of His Body, and He is your head. You have believed on Jesus and confessed with your mouth that He is the crucified and resurrected Son of God. He has come into you and taken up residence in your heart not just so that you can go to heaven when you die but so that you are, today and forever, part of His family, His Body, His ecclesia, His government on earth. There is nothing religious about any of that.
See, when Jesus told Peter that upon the Rock of Himself He would build His ecclesia, He used a term that Peter and all of his contemporaries understood. The Roman ecclesia was the mechanism whereby Roman citizens carried with them the authority and power of their citizenship and spread the Roman ideals throughout all of the world. Whenever two or more Roman citizens were gathered together in one place, the authority of the emperor was there with them. Why do you suppose Paul’s jailor was so terrified to discover that Paul was a Roman citizen? Because that citizenship alone carried the authority to execute that jailor for any breach of his Roman rights.
The idea that Jesus had any intention of copying the pagan church model, utilizing “sacred sanctuaries,” revering relics, practicing traditions, elevating men to positions of authority on the basis of offices or titles, placing “worship” above relationship, etc., is preposterous, and it is nowhere found in scripture. NOWHERE.
God wants a personal relationship with you, not just for your body to be present in a comfortable place on Sunday. God wants to speak to you personally, directly, through His written Word and through His Holy Spirit, not from the pulpit of some man-made edifice. God saves us and redeems us to Him individually, not corporately with some group. There is nothing else to do, no place to go, nothing to join, no words to say, no act to perform, nothing to sign, no ritual to follow, no rules that must be obeyed, no oath of loyalty or pledge of allegiance, no song to sing, no water to jump into – nothing: all that is to be done has already been done by God. Your role: confess and believe. That’s it. Add no religion – old time or new-fashioned – to it.