Do You Attend a Life-Giving Church?

God hates religion. Think for a moment about how Jesus handled religious people throughout the gospels.   Religion says you can attend church, pray some prayers, follow the rules, etc… and be fine with God. Relationship says that your eternity is based on a personal relationship with Jesus Christ through which you are reconciled to God.

2 Timothy 3:1-5 says, “There will be terrible time in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying its power.”

Those verses describe America today don’t they? Then verse 5 closes it out with this phrase; “having a form of godliness, but denying its power”. The phrase “a form of godliness” means a structured religion. “Denying its power” is best translated as denying the Powerful One (Holy Spirit).

Religion is empty of any real supernatural spiritual power. It is completely void of the power needed to truly transform lives. Now, let me be clear; attending church and religion is not the same thing. They have become the same thing in many cases. Many churches do just reinforce religion and its rules (I would avoid attending one of those).

But some churches teach a personal, life-transforming relationship with Jesus, which is evidenced by the work of the Holy Spirit in & through a person’s daily life. I call those type churches “life-giving churches”. A life-giving church will spend more time talking about the power of the Holy Spirit working in and through you than about its structure, rules, and expectations of you.

In a life-giving church, you will hear about God’s grace and mercy, and power to transform you; instead of guilt, shame, and condemnation. A life-giving church seeks to remove all the plastic and fakeness (yes, I know, I just made up a word hahaahhahaha), and just be real people, in need of a real Savior for from the real sin, and chasing after the heart of a real God.

God loves you so much He sent His Son, not religion. God loves you so much He sent you a person, not a structure. God loves you so much He wants to remove your sin shame, guilt, and condemnation; not use it as a weapon against you. God is completely different than religion. He is all about us having a personal relationship with His Son, so He can heal us, restore us, give us His righteousness, His power, His gifts, His grace, His forgiveness, His peace, His hope, His gifts, and eventually, eternity with Him in heaven.

It’s not about being religious or spiritual; it’s about actually following Christ; having a personal relationship with a living Savior. Being deeply religious or deeply spiritual without the life transforming work of the Holy Spirit in your life will give you the same results. Hell will be full of deeply religious and deeply spiritual people. Don’t let that be you.

A Church Reflects Its People

If a church sincerely and wholeheartedly loves God, loves people, and makes disciples as they are going, then that church will become a great church. But we must remember “the church” is the people, not the organization or the building. The organization reflects the people. So the real point is that individual people must wholeheartedly love God, love people, and make disciples, if there church is going to become a great church.

A great church that is growing, effectively making disciples, seeing God transform lives, and making an impact that will last into eternity is the way it is because individual Christ-followers make choices to obey, sacrifice, and surrender to God. The same is also true of a boring church, an ineffective church, a conflicted church, and a non-growing church. The organization is what it is due to the people who make up the organization. Your church is a reflection of you. Hard words for some people and churches? Maybe, but its absolutely true just the same.

Just imagine what Jesus would really say and do if He attended your church. Would Jesus be ok with the commitment he witnessed? What about the sincere heartfelt prayers, the unity, the willingness to stretch out of your comfort zone, the disciple-making efforts, the faith, the efforts to reach the un-churched or de-churched, the authentic worship, the surrender, or the sacrifice? Would He commend you for your heart, love, and obedience? Would He challenge your fear and lack of faith?

Would He say you are lukewarm and spit you out of his mouth? Would He challenge you to re-dream and surrender to His purposes? Would He overturn a few tables and pews and clear the place out with His rebuke? Would He thank you for your surrender, sacrifice, and selflessness as He recounted all the lives that have been changed as He has used you to carry out His ministry in and through you?

If we are really honest, few of us are ready to face Jesus’ evaluation of our church. And since “our church is a reflection of us”, few of us are prepared to face Jesus’ evaluation of our personal efforts at Christ-following. If an article like this makes you feel uncomfortable, just imagine how you would feel having your church being evaluated by Jesus!

We tend to ask the wrong questions: Am I comfortable? Does it meet my needs? Am I being noticed enough? Are my opinions being heard? Does it cost me any money? Does in require any time from me? Asking the wrong questions simply reinforces wrong behaviors and attitudes that do not honor God.

However, if you ask yourself the right questions: What would Jesus say, or think, or do? Is my attitude a positive example of my relationship with Christ? Am I being a good steward of all God has entrusted to me?   Is my heart right, broken, yielded, and surrendered? Is there any area of hidden sin in my life? If we ask the right questions wrong behaviors and attitudes will be challenged and God honoring behaviors and attitudes will be reinforced.

Biblically speaking, we all know Christ is the Head of the Church. Then, why do we (or let others) run the church like we are the ones in charge? I just wonder what Jesus would say about that?