Since our family adventure began, I have been attempting to reconcile the god of my experiences (church), to the God of the Bible. I was under the impression that they were one and the same, just misunderstood, but I have come to realize that is not true. I am not saying that church is wrong, I am saying that church has been hijacked by a false god. I want to be involved in the church that the God of the Bible established to turn the world upside down.
This may sound harsh, but please hear me out. The god of church uses the Bible, and good people, to destroy lives. He is a shifty, slippery, mysterious god that feeds on the fears and insecurities of people. The God of the Bible, on the other hand, is not shifty, slippery or mysterious and he destroys fear. When he wants to speak he sets a bush on fire, sends an angel, a prophet, a donkey or simply comes himself. Even when he spoke to Elijah, with a still small voice, it was followed by unquestionable power and clarity. His methods are unconventional, but his clarity is not.
I have noticed the destructive tendencies of the churchie god for some time and that is one of the things that I have struggled with in reconciling him to the God of the Bible. I have witnessed hundreds of destroyed families and marriages from the churchie god. In one case a lovely young couple’s marriage was miraculously saved, by the God of the Bible, only to have the churchie god completely destroy it, again, over 20 years of pastoring.
I have also witnessed the cycle of church growth and shrinkage time and time again. They experience several years of sustained, encouraging growth only to crash painfully to the ground. This cycle happens over and over again (across all church sizes and denominations) until the pastor and his family are crushed and there is a trail of former saints in the wake. A family can spend 20-30 years in service to the churchie god and have very little (from an eternal perspective), or nothing but destroyed relationships to show for it.
The churchie god is also vague and mysterious. He convinces people that the Bible is a very mysterious book that must be tirelessly studied, by someone smarter than you, in order to be understood. God simply can’t speak (dead language, it was written a long time ago…) through his book to the common person. As a result, people rely on a person to tell them what God wants. There is no need for a relationship with anyone, other than the Bible teacher.
Then there is the desperate, un-churched sinner. When they hit rock bottom and cry out to the God of the Bible, from their addictions and hurt, he hears them and responds with power. That power heals marriages, delivers addicts and stops suicides. Then that person goes to a church and meets the churchie god. He/she is quickly taught about the shifty, slippery mysterious god and then goes on to live a fruitless life, riding a pew, while the miracles that the God of the Bible did are slowly stripped away. A very small percentage of people who come to church and “get saved” ever actually do anything to impact God’s kingdom. Most simply stop doing bad things, but they never use their unique gifts and callings to turn the world upside down. They are satisfied with no longer sinning. I don’t care how many people the revival or alter call brings in, if people are not stepping into an active, life changing relationship, it does not matter.
All of this has caused us to declare that the Sanders family has officially divorced the churchie god. We choose, instead, to place our lives firmly in the hands of the God of the Bible, alone. As a result, we expect him to speak clearly, move miraculously and write a living epistle with our lives. No more vicious, unproductive cycles and no more destroyed marriages or families.
What does that look like? According to the Bible, his plans are ludicrous. For example:
“Build a boat, there is a flood coming that will cover the entire earth”- God
“Moses, go to the most powerful empire in the known world and tell them to free all of their slave workforce.”- God
“Leave your family fishing business and follow me.”- God
“Don’t worry about what you will eat or where you will live, I will provide.”- God
“Ananias, go to the one man (Saul), who has been killing all of your fellow Christians and give him a message from me.”- God
No wonder the churchie god has so many loyal followers! His plans are very safe and practical. He says to have a corporate staffing model for church, a fund raiser, a special speaker, or to watch a video series together. The problem is that we have been doing that for years and it has failed us. Success is not a group that attends church, sings in the choir and rarely sins. According to the Bible, a successful church is a group that actively follows God and meets together to share testimonies and encouragement.
The plans and direction, from the God of the Bible, may sound ridiculous and crazy, but they worked for Noah, Abraham, Moses and the disciples. If we are willing to trust his ludicrous plans, like they did, they will work for us as well.