I'm lifting this from the folder "nor did they know how to blush" at the top of the lounge section, by brother Ernestito ( all the below words are his ), as it got missed by me when he posted it ... easy to overlook that somewhat old thread
Much of what he says will come across as a familiar refrain ..... however, I find the way he puts it all, especially from his experience of having been so immersed in the "Rat Race" .... is one of the better descriptions of "The Problem" that I've seen.
I live in Southern California (escondido.....near san diego) and, though this city is full of churches, I struggle to find hardly a glimpse of any evidence of a legitimate rejection of this world for the sake of Christ.......and I'm talking about those in the "church".
It is an arrogant, self-serving, materialistic society with christian bumper stickers and weekly church attendence to justify what they picture as a "victorious life in Christ" but is really only the American dream at God's expense.....and to His mockery. It's literally nothing more than a subculture. Everyday I look at what is going on around me and I am filled with a frustrated sorrow to see my God mocked by the very lives of those who claim to be His.
However, I'm not sure if you've thought about this or not, I know you hinted at it, but I want to maybe offer something to think about.
When you look around you and you see the church behaving like the world, there's a reason for that- for the most part, they ARE the world.
They may go to a church building, they may speak in "christian terms" and include God in everything they say, they may be pursuing ministry, they may be involved in various functions, they may have their own church, they may shead tears during songs, they may read their bible constantly and be in continual prayer, they may demonstrate 'gifts', they may be many things that seem "sincere", BUT.......Is it God Himself that they are after?
They ,of course, would all declare that, but what do their lives demonstrate? What is the fruit they bear?
I've grown up in "church" since day 1. I've been to many kinds of churches and established many, many relationships with people.....many of them staff members, pastors, and musicians. Growing up around them, I became like them, all the way into my early twenties. I know how they think and why they do the things they do because my life was just that.
However, a couple years ago, God told me to leave "church" (which was hard cause I was on staff and it's been my whole life). Since then, He has been showing me what He's truly looking for out of man and His body. Even more, He's been showing me who He is and what it costs to follow Him.- Everything....including my life.
The harsh reality that I had to come to accept was that the "church", as I had known it, is not HIS church. It's a building, a subculture, and man-made programs composed of many people with all sorts of agendas. (not to say that there aren't some sincere people out there).
I've found that many people participate in "christianity" for various reasons.
Many are attracted to a god that will prosper their carnal lives......and I mean MANY.
Many are seeking a desireable life of "ministry"...aka, a career.
Many are looking to showcase themselves in various ways with arts and talents.....and you know what, every church has a stage and an audience.
Many are looking to "be okay" with God because their conscience is bothered over their self-seeking life.
Many just don't want to go to Hell.
Many are looking for an experience.
Many want a good show.
Many just like the "worship".
Many just like the music.
Many want to see miracles.
Many people were raised in church and just love the traditions they've been raised with.
Many just think it's a "good" thing to do.
Many want to have some sort of spiritual power.
Many are looking for a mate.
Many are just looking for a social venue.
The list could go on. But the question is, "who is looking for God Himself?"
After a lifetime in church, I have seen with my own eyes(spiritual eyes) that very few are looking to leave all behind to follow the real God. I find that almost everyone I've met, (even the most polished), have their eyes set on something besides God and are apart of the whole thing because they find earthly benefit for themselves.........and claim that they are following God Himself and justify it by twisting scripture to their will. I know it, I did the same. I speak christianeze quite fluently. However, beyond all my words, my heart was self-seeking.
They are following a god, but not the God of the Bible. How can I tell?
Because their god caters to their flesh.
Their god teaches them to call this earth a temporary "home".
Their god doesn't demand a denying of the self but rather favors self-esteem.
Their god loves money, exhibitionism, self-glory, numbers, fashions, business, big names, image, and a great life on earth.
Their god wants to pack the gathering of the saints with sinners........(a popular method, but contrary to the whole bible.)
Their god wants his children to flock to men to hear his words.
Their god wants his children to follow men.
Their god is concerned about earthly things.
Their god wants them to compromise, but calls it "finding the balance" or "moderation".
Their god doesn't slay their flesh and demand a life of pilgramage but is satified as long as church attendence and occasional prayer can fit into the American Dream.
Their god is a false god.
Their god is merely the priest that marries them to their true earthly loves.
The God I've come to know is a jealous God.
He NEVER appeals to the flesh, but only to the spirit.
He despises that which is temporary and ONLY is concerned with that which is eternal.
He does not glory in the strength of men but rather in their weakness.
He does not provide hope in this life but rather for eternity.
He hates when men seek a name for themselves at His expense.
He hates men making money off of his Holy Name through CD's, clothing lines, stickers, books,ect.
He loves when men become 'nobodies' that He can be seen through them.
He desires to lead His children personally. (I Sam. 8, Matt. 23:8-10.)
He slays the flesh of men by leading them away from their journey to become 'somebody' and demands it be left at the cross.
He requires us to hate our lives on this earth and to not look back to Egypt, but to look only forward to the eternal.
He is the real God, the God of the Bible, the God who will have His revenge on men who tried to get their way with Him and angered Him by claiming to the world that they are His.
I believe with all of my heart that those who are looking for the person of God Himself, God reveals Himself to them.
When God reveals Himself to them and they find "the desire of their heart" and follow Him, they will naturally bear fruit (the evidence of the Holy Spirit making them more like Jesus.)
They will look like God's children because that's what they are.
When you find yourself discouraged or upset when seeing a christian's eyes light up at the pleasures of this life.......it's most likely because they are not a christian. (I john 2:15)
A tree will bear it's proper fruit. If they look like the world and seem to love this world.....it's because, most likely, they are.
God's real children will bear fruit in the likeness of Jesus. God's real church, a global community of true pilgrems, will look and act like what christians should be- because, that's what they are.
Repenter, I encourage you to pursue God's heart without compromise no matter what anybody says. But when you are discouraged about the conditions of the "church", you need to ask yourself, "beyond the external appearances, is this even His church?"
Yes, God's real church is tempted by all the same things, however, their hearts do not love them.......and it will show. The allegiance they have to Christ will characterize their lives.....and you will know them by their fruit.
If you seek "church", you will find "church"......and be disappointed in that you've only found man.
But if you seek His kingdom, you will find His kingdom.........and thus, you will find His Church.
The real children of God are out there. Not as many as I once thought, they have always been a remnent and persecuted by the religious masses, but they are out there.
I appreciate your concern for God's name being properly represented. It's refreshing to hear. It's a jealousy you have for His name that He's put in your heart.
Keep seeking His kingdom.