Devotable
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Devotable

Theology

The Church Was Leading Me Down the Wrong Path

Missing the message of Jesus

Photo by Joshua Eckstein on Unsplash

I ask that you’ll have the power to grasp love’s width and length, height and depth, together with all believers. Ephesians 3:18 CEB

I have been reading lately about megachurches led by well-known pastors. Some of these stories are quite disheartening. It tells of pastors removed from their churches only to collapse all campuses. I also read where some pastors decided they were atheists or even committed suicide. It’s dismal, indeed. What would cause churches and pastors to take such drastic measures? Could stringent legalities of the church be the cause? Could their infallible certitude of Christ cause a boxed-in faith?

My Story

I want to tell you about a tiny little church that my husband and I joined many years ago. It was so wonderful at first when an elderly man came knocking at my door. He was trying to plant this new church in our small town. He was a sweet kind-spirited old guy who was well regarded. Then the senior minister became ill and had to retire. A new young minister was his replacement. Things began to change drastically.

At first, all seemed fine, but then the messages he preached became highly legalistic. He talked a lot about how a woman should dress and conduct herself. He made the ladies wear dresses when we took turns cleaning the church. He came to my husband and said, “You need to get your wife under control.” Not sure what I was doing to be out of control except accidentally missing one music rehearsal, and he caught me wearing shorts in the hot summer in the privacy of my own home. Now that I am older, I ask, “Why did he come to my house in the first place, knowing full well that my husband was at work?” That seems fishy.

My once beautiful paradox of faith as a child became a trajectory of fundamentalistic morality. I was still young and desperately wanted to please the Lord, so I tried to do everything right. I was going down that rabbit hole where I was falling for a strict judicial way of service with a no-questions-asked rule-oriented mentality. The idea was–believe this, and if you don’t, well, your just wrong! After all, these rules, regulations, and strong warnings were in the Bible. How could I argue?

The message of Jesus was skewed.

This pastor’s focus was not on faith but on condemnation. It was more important to be fundamentally sound than to have an altruistic love for God and others. I became dissatisfied the further I went in this hermeneutical direction. I imposed strict measures on myself, my children, and unknowingly I was beginning to be conscious of people who lived outside these parameters.

A change of heart

I finally came out of this theological closet I was constructing when the pastor told a visiting woman, “You cannot come into our church because you are wearing slacks. If you put on this wrap-around skirt (yes, they provided some), you may come inside.” The woman left, and shortly after, so did we.

It is vaguely comforting to live within the confines of religious jurisdictions. The borders are transparent. Yet it also becomes confining when there is nowhere to advance in this kind of spiritual journey. God kept chiseling away all my spurious ideologies. I learned that I was under a dome of a pernicious doctrine with a narrow scope of eschatology. It was a compelling message and, although dripping in blood, was anemic at best. Christs’ blood could do so little in this particular realm of of doctrine.

However, living in God’s delight, helping us love God and others, mysteriously bends and twists with specific yet obscure form. It’s a beautiful conundrum that moves and flows to encompass all ethnicities and surpass all borders to fill His cosmos. Yes, His hands created the solar systems that we have not yet discovered with love. His love is timeless, bathing the past, present, and future. Absorbed in God’s love, I was beginning to grasp the true nature of God.

God’s Lessons

The greatest lessons God taught me were these: I am love. Christ is in Me, and I in Him. Our blood did more than you understand. You limit our power of passion. You are thwarting my Holy Spirit’s work in you.

These lessons compel me to ask questions, such as, “Have I thought too small of Christ and His atoning blood? Have I kept Christ in a particular era and space, or can I believe that He was God and with God initially?

What’s your story?

Is your church leading you down the wrong path? Are you dogmatic over strict dispensational theology which overshadows the true ministry of Christ?” Are you apprehensive about asking questions in your church? Are you told you are God’s prized treasure, but you feel more like a punching bag? Does gentleness, kindness, forgiveness, and regard for others take precedence, or is your truism causing you to be pugnacious, argumentative, judgmental, and combative? If something doesn’t seem right then, it’s probably not. You can choose to put on the wrap-around skirt or walk away.

If your church is causing your faith to collapse, it’s time to leave. Ask Christ to reveal Himself to you. Don’t be afraid. God may need to shatter your theology to reveal His true self. Jesus made a promise to you in Matthew 7:7–8 NRSV:

Ask, and it will be given you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who searches finds, and for everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

Turning your back on faulty theology does not mean you turn your back on Christ; you are just seeking a better Christ.

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Jenny Calvert

Jenny Calvert

Jenny is published in The Secret Place, The Upper Room, Short and Sweet books, and Extinguishig the Spirit of Fear. dailyprayer.us, and christiandevotions.us

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