The First 40 Years to Christ (Part 3/3) – Church Encounter

In the blog titled “The First 40 Years to Christ (Church Labels)”, I shared that I was blinded by church labels, denominations, and the complexity of “choosing” a church that would be the right one.  My negative perceptions were also influenced by religion – man made doctrines and legalism that dictate how you act, how you perform, what you do, how you do it, and passing judgement while you do it.  

Why did it take me 40 years to come to Christ? I idolized a false god called rationalism. I could not rationally fit the church into my worldly logic view.  Was my rationality due to my own shortcomings, or, was my rationality due to what the world was teaching me?  I believe it to be both.   

What do I believe now? What do I believe today? 

John 8:32 “and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”  

What is the truth?  

John 14:6 Jesus said to him [Thomas], “I am the way, and the truth, and the life…….” 

The key to an encounter with God is the Holy Ghost. It is not intellectual, it is not theological. It is spending time with Him; communing with Him. It requires fellowship with other believers so that you may strengthen your confidence in Him and increases your faith. Church is necessary, it is a commandment. The denomination choice, the church of choice, is not material as long as the central focus is always in Jesus. Denominations are a matter of convenience but the truth is that there are no denominations in heaven.  

A choice of church is based on your heart language. What convicts you? What inspires you? What brings you closer to Jesus? 

Man has created conditions and rules around a set of belief frameworks that qualify which type of church you belong to, much/some of it based on biblical principles but some of it has been added by man to manage, administer, and organize groups of people. It establishes processes to assist with the operation of a church: worship, prayers, the message, etcetera.  The rub is that it also sets a tone for the message of that church, which is where most people have problems. Bottom line is that Jesus did not create a box, but he did outline commandments. Two of His commandments are foundational to His church. 

Mark 12:30-31 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” 

The last words of Jesus to His disciples are His Great Commission. 

Matthew 28:18-20 (NLT) Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” 

I have come to believe that almost ALL Christian churches, regardless of denomination, are centered around one common theme – JESUS CHRIST!! If Jesus is not the central focus, then I do not see how that church can be Christian. 

I have come to believe that people must follow their heart language regarding their church of choice (their denomination) – what does your heart tell you?   

Your heart language will set your belief system and frame your Christian morals and values. If one church setting is slow and monotone, then that is what fits the heart language of those parishioners. In contrast, if a church is loud, fast, and high energy, then that is the heart language of those particular parishioners. Some wear fancy church clothes and outfits; some wear street clothes. Some churches only sing hymnal music while other churches play music that is more modern. Does the message of the church bring people closer to Jesus?    

I have come to strongly believe that, regardless of their church “denomination”, Christians must respect and love other Christians. Christians should not criticize or condemn other Christians because of their choice of church. It is the Holy Spirit prodding us in our heart language that guides us; anything else is human logic and rationality. I believe that God desires for His Church to remain in unity and on point – focused on Jesus.   

1.       The Church belongs to Jesus, not to man.  

Ephesians 5:23-24.  “……Christ is head of the Church………..the church is subject to Christ” 

2.       Christ is the leader of the church, Jesus did not direct any appointments where we go through a man to get to God 

Colossians 1:18. “……He is the head of the body, the Church” 

John 14:6 Jesus said to him [Thomas], “………no one comes to the Father but through Me.” 

3.       It is not your church nor is it my church, it is Christ’s Church.  It is CHRISTian.  

1 John 3:23 And this is His commandment: that we should believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ and love one another, as He gave us commandment. 

We cannot get mad at people who we think are blind or scoff at them because they have chosen a specific denomination or belief system. It is ok to disagree with certain beliefs but we are also commanded to love each other.  I was blinded by Church labels and I was blinded by man’s rules in the church. More importantly, I was disenfranchised by what I was led to believe church was. This is one reason it took me 40 years to find Christ. The lesson is that Church labels, and the boxes we draw around them, can hold back the Holy Spirit. The good news is that even with all of this white noise, He and I were still able to connect and He saved me! Glory to God! 

Oh, by the way, if you haven’t picked up a copy of my Award Winning book for best Memoir of 2020, “My Personal Desert Storm: Eating Crow and Humble Pie”, you can pick up a copy on Amazon HERE (Click).

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