Welcome to volume 5 of the Simple Christian Podcast with Dr. Ty.
Hey, in volume 4 I warned about getting caught up in things that don’t matter.
Matthew 6:19-21. “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
That doesn’t mean that we can’t have stuff. It’s the last verse that clinches it. “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” So stuff is okay, just don’t dwell on it.
Think of this: Throughout history, there have been many times when “the church” has not done the will of God. One of those times was the Spanish Inquisition. And something interesting, the details are hauntingly similar to that of Nazi Germany.
For some reason, the Christian government in Spain was fearful of the Jewish population and they felt threatened by the Jewish people.
So, around 1400AD, King Henry III instituted policy that Jews must either convert to Christianity or be tortured (or killed).
Now, I don’t personally understand why any Jewish person would not believe in Jesus, but just like anyone else, it’s their decision. I’ve gone to several Jewish synagogues in the past, and every one I’ve gone to was filled with Messianic Jews. That’s not to say every Jewish person is Messianic (oh, and Messianic just means that they are a Jewish person who also believes that Jesus is the son of God and our salvation. They still perform the rites and feasts of the Jewish, however.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. Jesus attended, performed, and even presided over the Jewish rites and feasts. So, if we look at Jesus’ life as the path on how we should be living our lives, we Christians may be doing some of this wrong.
But that’s a topic for another time.
Let’s get back to the separation of God and Church.
Worse than that, though, there is gossip and drama going on about who is worshiping whom and the church is dividing into factions. And whenever that happens, it’s the people of the church that suffer.
Now compare that to Philippians, a church that got it right.
Paul is ecstatic about the Philippain church, to the point where he writes in:
Philippians 1:7-11: It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace,[d] both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
There’s a specific reason for the title of this volume: There are people alive today, possibly many people, who have suffered at the hands of modern-day churches. And of course, I don’t mean like in times of the Spanish Inquisition or the time of Paul, those are just examples of how the church can separate itself from God.
When I first became a Christian, I was part of a church that grew very fast, too fast for the pastor, and it affected him in personal, vainful (some say prideful but there are good ways to have pride, there are no good ways to have vanity), so vainful ways (and yeah, I know vainful isn’t really a word). That church is no more. I wonder sometimes, how many of the 1,500 people walked away from God because of what that pastor did, not realizing that it was the pastor, not God, who did it.
And that’s why I say the separation of God and church. God is in all churches, but not are churches allow God to lead them. And that is the fault of the leader. Whoever runs that church is 100% at fault if God isn’t leading it, because the lead pastor isn’t allowing God to lead him/her.
There are some who think that the Bible isn’t relative anymore because we have grown so much as a race; but we haven’t really. We are still petty, vain, self-centered beings no different than we were 6 thousand years ago.
The only thing that’s really changed is technology. People haven’t changed one bit.
Even new age religion is no different than the sun worshipers thousands of years ago. New agers believe that the “universe” sends good things to us, but the “universe” is just a bunch of rocks and gasses made up of the same materials as the sun. So, basically, they are worshipping the sun, the moon, and the stars just like people did in ancient times.
And I know that I’m going to get some push-back from this, but worshiping a cross is worshiping a false idol also. I’m sure that most people just use the cross to help them focus on God, but we don’t need anything to do that. God is here with each and every one of us.
But He gives us free will also. So, when a priest gets caught abusing a teenager, that is not of God. When a pastor gets caught having affairs with women he is counseling, that is not of God. And it’s not just men; women are just as guilty of this. I know several couples that left churches because some women (and men) spread dreadful gossip about them. These were Christian people, in church, spreading gossip. That is not of God.
How do I know? I know for myself because I judge everything on what I call my method of two: I look at what happens in the world and ask myself, is this Biblically accurate? Then I look at Bible scripture and ask would Jesus approve?
Jesus NEVER begged anyone to get closer to God. In fact, he openly told people NOT to follow him, knowing that it was better for them to be ignorant than to know God and openly rebel against him, like so many pastors have done.
I have been asked to be a pastor more than once, and I freely admit that I am terrified of doing so. There are so many indiscretions in my past that I’m not hiding but that could have a negative impact on a ministry I lead. But I also think that’s a limitation I’ve put on myself. Moses was a murderer, and Paul was also. I’ve never gone that far.
How many pastors, after their indiscretions were brought to light, went to the people they wronged and asked for forgiveness I wonder?
There have been 3 large churches that have been rocked to their foundations in the last 6 years in my area because of the indiscretions of the lead pastors. And I know that there are people in those churches that blame God for what the pastors did.
Something similar happened to me. My parents attended a Roman Catholic church when I was young. And, in the interest of being transparent, I was a pretty wild child. My parents thought it would help me to be an altar boy at the church, and I was so for a while (I don’t remember how long). But I did not enjoy it at all. In fact, the experience turned me off to church for decades. As soon as my parents let me, I stopped going to church and didn’t go back for about 30 years. It took that long for God to get me to realize that what happened had nothing to do with Him.
Don’t get me wrong, the priest wasn’t an abuser, he was just a hard man who had high expectations. But I hadn’t been subjected to that kind of treatment before, so it shocked me. And I’m sure the priest could tell that I was not comfortable with his behavior, but he never once sat me down and asked what was going on or tried to figure me out.
That was a failing on his part, and I’m sure some of it was vanity. Just like some of the reasons I am hesitant to be a pastor is probably vanity. There is a large part of me that doesn’t care what other people think about me, as long as it fits in my rebellious nature. When it comes to my faith, my self-confidence is a bit lower.
But more than that, so many churches that I’ve been a member of (3 of the 5 churches I’ve been a member of since I became a Christian) had lead pastors that got caught doing naughty things and were forced to step down.
In one instance, the church disappeared, and I have no idea what happened to most of the people. The second one is thriving again, but now the third one just got hit with political issues for the second time in 4 years (not the church I currently attend, a past church). To me, political issues in church are absolutely stupid. They are nothing more that people asserting their vanity and that has nothing to do with God. The church in which I’m currently seeing this has now split into two different churches, which does nothing but weaken the church body.
So if you have attended a church in the past and it’s gone wrong, don’t blame God: He gave us free will, and he is not going to give you free will but take it away from someone else.
See the issue for what it really is: Failure on Man’s part, not God’s.
Dr. Ty Belknap