“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.“
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
Before I get a bunch of hate mail about this topic and title, let me clarify.
I am in no way suggesting that you abandon your posts and/or corps.
The body of Christ needs you.
This Army needs dedicated soldiers and officers like you, so don’t surrender or quit!
What am I saying then?
There are moments when Church fellowship has been destroyed.
There are moments when you face more hostility than acceptance.
There are moments when the body is literally broken.
Have you been there?
Sometimes the worst kinds battles occur within the walls of “Church”.
Sometimes the worst judges, juries and executioners are sitting in the pews every Sunday morning. They cast looks with furrowed eyebrows and brandish barbed words and sharpened blades of deceit. Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t in every corps, nor is it in every church, but when it does happen it can destroy lives.
Sometimes it is found in the maligned uses of Scripture to fit the needs or used as a weapon.
So why run?
What do I possibly mean by this?
I don’t want to sound like a cynic today, but I am not naive to believe that every church is practicing what they preach. This sounds judgmental too doesn’t it – sorry, I don’t mean it to be. I just want to caution you, and use this as a metaphor today. The “Church” is more than four walls. The “Church” is more than what happens on Sunday. The “Church” is more than a group of people in odd looking uniforms. The “Church” is you, it is me, it is our very bodies, our very nature as Transformed new creations. So let me speak of this “Church” metaphor today, and why we should run.
What are we to run from?
3 Reasons To Run From Church:
1. Let’s run from the Gossip Church!
“Whoever goes about slandering reveals secrets; therefore do not associate with a simple babbler.” -Proverbs 20:19
If Church is all about backbiting, slander and all kinds of verbal abuse, then run.
Don’t associate yourselves with the Church of Gossip. Don’t hang out in its halls. Don’t participate in it’s rotten potlucks full of foul intentions and underhanded comments. These things will make you sick and poison your soul. Don’t involve yourself in this tainted fellowship, instead RUN! Gossip can seem quite innocuous at first with a mere sentence of “hey did you hear…”, or “I want you to pray for so and so because they….” -Gossip is NOT edifying to the body of Christ. So don’t a part of that Church, instead run from it and have nothing to do with it at all!
“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak…” Matthew 12:36
2. Let’s run from Weaponized Scripture!
“Do not speak evil against one another, brothers. The one who speaks against a brother or judges his brother, speaks evil against the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge.” James 4:11
If scripture is being abused and used to attack other people – Run.
Don’t take specific passages out of context in order to fulfill the needs of “Church”.
Don’t listen to such poison either.
Be mindful that this can be Church of one (me, myself and I) as well as a group of people.
Jesus didn’t care much for the abusers of the Torah and it’s many laws, this should give you an inkling of what His response would be to those who do that still today. Modern day Pharisees do exist among us. There are times to confront them and times when we should RUN from them.
If scripture is used purposely to fit a Church’s needs and/or to attack other people with it – get away from them and run! Don’t waste another moment in that fellowship. Also, spend time studying the Bible for yourself, don’t just take other people’s word at face value. Begin to develop your own understanding of what is being said. Understand the context of each passage and to whom it was originally written to. Be aware of this sort of weaponizing of scripture…the purpose of a weaponized scripture isn’t to bring people to Christ, instead it is used to condemn others and hold power and authority over them by looking down on them. If that’s the case then run from the Weaponized Scripture Church.
“If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.” -Exodus 23:5
3. Run From the Loveless Church!
“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’ 44“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you...” Matthew 5:43-44
A Church without love is a dead church.
A heart that feels nothing for others is a sad and pitiful life.
Run from such a Church. Run from the religion of hate, judgement and condemnation. Don’t waste your time in these loveless pursuits.
“If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.” 1 John 4:20
We will not always agree with one another in Church. This is different than lacking love completely. I don’t know of any church that is void of love, lacking sometimes – yes, but not void of it. But within our hearts we can become apathetic, we can become unloving and uncaring for others. Run from this Church. Run from this desire to NOT care.
What Church should we RUN TO?
1. Run to the Church of Sincerity.
2. Run to the Church of Honesty.
3. Run to the Church of Authenticity.
4. Run to the Church of Forgiveness and Grace
5. Run to the Church of Holiness – a transforming life (He is still working on you/me/us).
6. Run to the Church of Reconciliation and Restoration of the Broken
We can’t afford to run into the Church of gossip.
We can’t afford to run into the Church of the Weaponized Word.
We can’t afford to run into the Church of the loveless.
If we truly want to win the world for Jesus, then we have to run to the right places.
Our hearts must be in the right place.
Our lives are His, and His alone.
Something more for our Army to consider this morning.
To God be the glory!