Practical Application of the Word of God
As I have studiously and carefully observed the walk among those of us who say we’re Christians and we’re following God and Jesus Christ over the past several years, it is apparent that we are so far astray from the word of God – believing it, learning it, applying it, becoming it – and we don’t even realize it.
As with most things where we start off on one road and end up a completely different road, the going astray was so gradual that we didn’t notice. We took a lot of detours meant to be momentary, but what lay ahead on the detours caught our attention and we went with the detours instead of getting back on the main road of our destination to the kingdom.
We took our eyes off God and Jesus Christ and we fastened them on the things we could see in this physical world – organizations and people – and they have become what we are committed to, devoted to, and obedient to instead of God and Jesus Christ.
To be sure, we had help with the detours and going astray from God and His word, from our Teacher who urges us in Matthew 11 to learn from Him, from wholehearted obedience to what God tells us He requires of us.
The organizations and the people have hammered us with how superior each is to the other, with their “doctrines,” with their assertions that each of them is the Church, and with their presumption of authority to speak for God and Jesus Christ (very much like the Catholic Church, where priests are the middle men between parishioners and God) and to interpret – and change to their own desires and/or liking or to omit altogether – God’s word for us.
For the most part, we have fallen for it hook, line, and sinker, abrogating our calling (Paul tells each of us we must work out our own salvation with fear [of God] and trembling [at His word]), the word of God, and the sole and ultimate authority of God and Jesus Christ in our lives.
As a result, many disturbing trends have emerged.
One is that, like Israel and Judah (and this is why God sent them into exile out of the promised land), we have, in general, become spiritual Samaritans, mixing the profane with the holy and deceiving ourselves into believing that God’s blessing and even His presence is there.
We meet, in many cases, with absolutely no qualms about it, in pagan temples surrounded by pagan symbols and idols. Then we have the gall to ask God to be there, in ignorance of God’s word and in ignorance (because we’re not in God’s word continually) of the fact that if Jesus Christ never entered a pagan temple during His time as a human on this earth, it is impossible to believe He would enter a pagan temple now in spirit.
And that is why, more often than not, the content of most services is spiritual junk food (if it doesn’t so directly contradict God’s word that it makes those of us who are deeply in that word so upset that we can barely keep ourselves from getting up and walking out the door).
Sermons are now presented instead of preached. They are read word-for-word (and if there are scriptures – at times, those are few and far between – they are either read from the script without the Bible ever being opened or they are simply referred to without being read) with no deviation from the script (God’s spirit should enlighten our eyes as we read and discuss scripture, but God’s spirit is not there – I’m not saying the people reading the sermons don’t have God’s spirit, but it seems the actions they take quench the power of it).
And why have pagan temples become more the norm than not? Kitchens. That is now one of the prerequisites for meeting halls.
Because we have gone astray from God, Jesus Christ, and the spiritual food of the word of God, our focus has become physical and the highlight of meeting together is eating physical food together after services, claiming we are “fellowshipping,” when instead we’re just socializing.
Fellowship is spiritual in nature and content and the focus is God and His word. It is rare anymore to have that actually happen at services. The organizational dogma has become so pronounced and ingrained that truly talking about the deep things of God may, more likely than not, put us in conflict with the doctrines and commandments of people that the organizations teach and follow.
It’s as though, for the most part, we as the body of Christ collective find ourselves in the most arid of spiritual deserts, lost and dying in reality spiritually while believing in that common desert delusion that comes with time, thirst, and hunger: the mirage that we are instead in a spiritual oasis.
I mourn that we have gone this far afield from what God commands us to do and become while we’re under the deceptive illusion that we can whatever we want and worship God however we want and we are pleasing Him.
All I can do is pray for us, as the prophets did for Israel and Judah, and that God will intervene and remove the scales from our eyes, grant us that gold purified in fire, and clothe us in His white garments to cover our spiritual nakedness and relieve our spiritual misery.
In the meantime, each of us is required individually to obey God and Jesus Christ, no matter what anybody else or everybody else is doing. This calling is personal. This relationship is personal. These gifts are personal.
It seems that aspect of our calling has been perverted into collectivism (i.e., follow the organization and you’ll be okay) and it is dead wrong. If we continue to believe that, we will go even further astray from God and His word and, quite frankly, there is absolutely no telling where we’ll eventually end up.
This the priority of my life. Paul spoke of it as running a race and being given a prize. In the end, like each of you, I have to continually ask and answer these questions: What matters more to me than anything else and what am I willing to do to that end?
These are our all-or-nothing questions. I can’t answer for you and you can’t answer for me. But I pray that we all, at some point, come to have the same answer that God and Jesus Christ have for us, because we’re their work and this is the purpose for which all of humanity has been created in their own timing, but which we have been called for God and Jesus Christ to complete in us now.
Are we in or out?