His Truth Will Set You Free

Listen to what Jesus says; “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32)


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To Church, or Not to Church, That is the Question

“So, where do you go to church?” I use to hate that question. It’s been ten years since I attended the Presbyterian Church in town, and still, I run across people I sat next to in those pews, but haven’t seen since then. We bump into each other in the grocery store or coffee shop, and they always ask, “So CJ, where do you go to church now?”

I always felt awkward replying to the question, for I haven’t attended a regular church since leaving Presby. Oh, in my early days as a de-churched orphan, I test-drove other churches in town, but for reasons I don’t totally understand, I never felt like going back.

So my answer to the question usually starts with, “Well, um, you see. I don’t go to church. Haven’t since leaving Presby.”

My inquisitor usually gets that look, maybe you’ve seen it. Their face fills with concern and fear for my soul. They immediately believe I’ve left Christianity and jumped into the black pit of heathendom.

“However,” I truthfully add, “I feel closer to Jesus and God now than I ever have before.”

The look changes from concern and fear to confusion. How could that be, how could someone find closeness to God and Jesus without attending church? My fellow pew-sitter from the past and I usually part ways, with them still wondering about my soul (I suspect), and me felling I didn’t get my message across.

But now I have a better answer to the question.

Where do I go to church? Well, my Church doesn’t have a name, and there is no building. For me, Church is not a place—it’s a belief. When do I go to church? Whenever I want, and it’s not just Sunday. I go to church every day, any time of the day, whenever I can wrestle my thoughts away from the outside world and look inside, to Jesus within me.

Jesus tells us in the Bible that Church, the one true Church, is wherever His Spirit lives. In the Old Testament times, the Spirit of God resided in the Temple, in the back room called the Holy of Holies. But Jesus changed all that.

As He said, His Spirit now lives within all who believe in Him and believe what He promised. He promised that His Spirit would be IN us, and we IN Him. You’ve heard the phrase, you body is a Temple. So true, if you believe.

Look inside, to the Spirit of Jesus within you, and you will find the one true Church.

 

Here are some of my favorite Bible verses on the subject:

Jesus said, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.” (John 14:23)

He also said, “On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.” (John 14:20)

“Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? … for God’s temple is sacred, and you are that temple.” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

“And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22)

“But Christ is faithful as a son over God’s house. And we are his house, if we hold on to our courage and the hope of which we boast.” (Hebrews 3:6)

As Jesus said, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.” (John 15:4)


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I Confess

What’s religious confession all about? I’m remotely familiar with Catholic confession – I grew up on the fringe of the Catholic Church. And this morning I spent ten minutes researching via Google. I should be an expert by now. By what I read on a CatholicsComeHome website, confession looks like a pretty cool thing.

You ask for forgiveness of your sins and express your regret. I’m not sure if this is the way it is today, but years ago Catholic confession also included accepting a small penalty, like reciting certain prayers.

There’s something about confession that I like. It’s a safe and confidential way to unload burdens. I think it can be emotionally healthy to confess our mistakes. It’s a good exercise in humility. Whether you confess mistakes to a priest or a friend, it can be a good thing to do.

So why do I feel uncomfortable with it?

I see a dark side to such things as Catholic confession. Asking forgiveness and paying a token penalty seems harmless. BUT, I think it dishonors Jesus, it disrespects Jesus, and maybe it disgraces Jesus. I see such forms of confession as completely ignoring the love and sacrifice of Jesus.

Look, we are already forgiven. God forgave us when His Son died on the cross. To ask for forgiveness is to ignore the fact that we’re already forgiven! Also, Jesus already paid the penalty for all sins. Taking on penalties of our own ignores His sacrifice!

I see confession as a distraction from Jesus. Its focus is on the church and on the person who’s confessing. It insulates people from the love and grace of God.

As I said in the beginning, I think confession is good and everyone who loves Jesus should confess their sins, but not to a priest. We should go directly to Jesus and God. Jesus said as much in teaching us the Lord’s Prayer. But when we go to him with such prayers, maybe instead of asking for forgiveness, we should tell Him how grateful we are. And we should remember the penalty He paid for our sins. And the gratitude that swells within us will feed our love for Jesus. And as our love for Jesus grows, so do we grow.

I think this should be the nature and outcome of confession. It’s all about gratitude, love, and Jesus. What do you think?


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The Manmade Church – a Prison?

The manmade church; a building, the establishment,

rules, traditions, obligations, deceptions, false ideas about Christianity.

A prison?

Many are prisoners of a manmade church,

fastened to the church by a heavy chain of lies.

Picture in your mind… the church, the prisoner, and the heavy chain,

shackled to her ankle, holding her fast to the manmade church.

Now here comes Jesus,

with His love, and grace, and forgiveness, and truth.

And with His sword of truth Jesus shatters the chain, and sets the prisoners free.

His truth will set you free!


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The One True Church

You don’t see it much these days – the One True Church of Jesus Christ. Yet even if you glimpsed it, you might not recognize it. What does the One True Church look like?

The true church is those people who believe and who let the Spirit of Jesus into their lives. It’s those whom Jesus has taught humility, and by that humility, they have recognized and accepted their utter feebleness. And in their feebleness, they also accept their utter inability to obey and follow God in their own strength, by their own effort. And in their utter helplessness, they realize their only hope in this life is to surrender themselves to the Spirit of Jesus.

The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. (Romans 8:6) The mind controlled by the Spirit IS the One True Church of Jesus Christ… the dwelling in which His Holy Spirit lives.

You don’t see it much these days. So how can the One True Church grow and become more visible? Through encouragement. To encourage those who believe in Jesus to give up their religious efforts by their own strength, to give up seeking any religious fulfillment by their own work; to instead, humbly yield themselves to the Holy Spirit. Surrender is the path to the One True Church.

 


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Chasing Peace – Day 18 – What the…?

That’s not what I expected.

I wanted to escape stress. Specifically, the stress-pit I tend to fall into everyday at work. And then God showed me a new way to look at this; to escape stress by chasing after peace. And then God showed me that I will catch true peace when I surrender my self to the Spirit of Jesus within me. I’ve been on this journey for 18 days now.

And now that I’m feeling a taste of surrender, Jesus is starting to fill me with Himself, and His Love! My selfish ways seem to be fading. And His Love is consuming and filling me with a compassion for everyone who does not feel His love themselves.

The Church. His Church. It’s hurting. It’s wounded. It’s aching to be filled with His love. But much of the church has wandered from the path of surrender. Much of the church has surrendered to manmade rules, and traditions, and concerns, and agendas – rather than surrendering to the Spirit of Jesus.

Oh, the church worships Jesus, but have they become Jesus? The true church, as Jesus designed it, is the collection of believers in whom His Spirit lives – we are His Temple, His Church.

Where will this go? Where is Jesus taking me? My journey to find peace is shaking up my life.

Dear Jesus, your Love is greater than life. My life is yours. Thank you. Now let’s go heal wounds… with Your Love.

 

Day 17                    Day 22 →

 


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Beyond Church

Church is a great place to learn about God and Jesus, strengthen your faith, and establish long lasting relationships with new friends. But when it comes to your most important relationship, church can sometimes be a distraction. You’re relationship with Jesus is not established and strengthened in the midst of a crowd. You will find and feel your relationship with Jesus in your quiet time with Him.

In His instructions for how we should pray, Jesus said, “When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” (Matthew 6:6) That’s where we will find Jesus, in the quiet and solitude of our own private place.

Do you hunger for a stronger relationship with Jesus? Then look beyond church. Look to the quiet and solitude within your heart, for that is where the Spirit of Jesus lives.