Separation Anxiety – It isn’t what you think…

“And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM. I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE.” Therefore “COME OUT FROM AMONG THEM AND BE SEPARATE, SAYS THE LORD. DO NOT TOUCH WHAT IS UNCLEAN, AND I WILL RECEIVE YOU.” “I WILL BE A FATHER TO YOU, AND YOU SHALL BE MY SONS AND DAUGHTERS, SAYS THE LORD ALMIGHTY.”” (2Co 6:16-18)

If you’ve been anywhere near a church that actually preaches sin and repentance, you’ve heard this one. It’s a good word, and one we need to heed! But – brace yourself – what if suddenly we find that this has a meaning for us in relation to the modern-day American tax-exempt corporation church???

 

Unfortunately, there were times in my life I heard those very words applied to a church down the road. In fact, a former pastor of mine didn’t like it when he found out I was going to visit another church to sing and play guitar, because he said my gifts (of music and leading worship) belonged to “our” church!!! How about that! Christians judging and condemning one another and banning members of one congregation from associating with the members of another congregation.

 

It kind of reminds me of a man who asked my friend if her husband could come out and go to a rodeo. She said; “Ask HIM! I MARRIED him, I didn’t BUY him!”

 

Some churches may act like they own us; church leaders can get pretty possessive when it looks like someone might “steal their sheep”. Add in doctrinal differences and splitting hairs about how many angels can sit on the head of a pin (it depends on which dimension they are inhabiting in relation to the pin, don’t you know!) and pretty soon you have something that looks for all the world like… well, the World!

My Nana had a saying: “When we get to Heaven, God isn’t going to put up dividers between the Methodists and Baptists so they don’t have to look at one another.”

Who hasn’t heard something like the following upon visiting a new church?

 

“Hi, do you live in this town? Oh really? So you’ve lived here for ten years and you’ve never come to our church? Well, we’re glad you finally made it!”

“Do you have a family? Why aren’t they with you? Are they back-slidden? Do you need us to pray for them?”

“What do you mean you don’t have a ‘home church’? Didn’t anyone tell you that you’re not supposed to forsake the assembly of the brethren?”

“What do you mean you ARE the church! You need to come talk to our pastor, he’ll set you straight!”

 

Instead of making you feel welcome, it feels like you’ve stumbled into an inquisition, and you know they think you need to pass muster or you’ve already got one foot in Hell and the other on a slippery slope!

 

I’ve often wondered what gives people the audacity to think their church is the only right church… And what gives them the right to judge another servant of God? This presupposes that THEY are servants of God, of course, and I don’t say that lightly! Here is a scripture that every professing believer in Christ should memorize!

“Who are you to judge another’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. Indeed, he will be made to stand, for God is able to make him stand.” (Romans 14:4)

What, then, if the corporate American tax-exempt society is NOT the true Church of Jesus? What if it is only a building, and more closely resembles a club? What if some of the members are doubly dead because they hold a promise of light and godliness, but nothing comes of them at all?

This is what I mean by separation anxiety: we receive guilt trips from others who do not like to see our freedom, so they regard us with suspicion and begin the 20 Questions game.

Who gives Sister Busybody the right to tell Sister Knitting-Quietly-in-a-Corner that she’s a bad witness? If anyone should be corrected it is Sister Busybody, who doesn’t seem to have enough work to do since she is tending to the business of others.

Brother Holier-Than-Thou has no place telling Brother Standing-in-Awe that he should give more to the church, or join the painting committee, and chip in for the pastor’s vacation.

Why should we be fearful of THEIR judgment if we refuse to participate in their charade of religion because we are humbly and quietly going about our Father’s business?

Playing religion is no more profitable for our souls than it was for the scribes, Pharisees and religious leaders of Jesus’ day. He told them that their hearts were far from God because they were of their father the devil. Truly, religion hasn’t changed much, unless we count joining the computer age, developing sophisticated worship teams and broadcasting our ‘worship’ on television! Why are we anxious about the opinions of those who chose to spend their money and their time sitting in a pew letting someone dictate how they should move and breathe and have their being? Why aren’t we rebuking those who dare to usurp God’s place in our lives – and in the name of God?

True story. A young man went to stay with his aunt for the summer, and he was interested in visiting a particular church in her town. He wanted her to come with him. She explained that she only went to those churches when God told her to, but he was welcome to go and obey his own conscience in the matter. He asked his aunt what he should say if someone asked him where she was. He was worried that they might think badly of him if she didn’t come along. The aunt asked the dear boy if he was worried that she was a back-slider, and he was horrified that she would even suggest it, because he knew that she fervently loved Christ and shared Him with everyone she could. She encouraged him by saying: “If anyone asks where your aunt is, just tell them she’s the one who gave you permission to go.” His eyes went wide with sudden understanding. He lowered his head for a moment and then looked up at her with a pained expression: “I wish I wasn’t afraid of them.” It was startling admission, and it was one that would forever change his understanding of the meaning of the word “Church”.

 

Those who use fear, guilt and pride to get us into their “churches” will use fear, guilt and pride to keep us there. It’s a vicious cycle and one that we need to avoid. When will we wake up and realize that these sorts of churches are NOT of God!? When will we stop sitting in the pews collecting dust along with our bibles while someone feeds us baby food? We need to start opening our hearts to God. He has a new and living way for us to operate, and it has nothing to do with Churchianity!


If you are being held in place by guilt, fear and pride, or if you have been going to church but haven’t seen Jesus there, it’s time to wake up and come out. Separate yourself from the uncleanness of spiritual pride, envy, lust and sin that masquerades itself as the true Church of Jesus Christ. There are false shepherds everywhere, but we have ONE GOOD SHEPHERD, and we were given the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth.

 

We all need to fellowship, and Jesus confirmed that by saying that where two or three are gathered in His name, He is with them, even in the midst of them. Modern day “pastors” who run the whole show in a “church” are out of order! Jesus gave gifts to the Church – Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors & Teachers (or pastor/ teachers if you like) – to UNDER-GIRD, SUPPORT, TEACH AND EQUIP ALL THE SAINTS FOR THEIR WORK OF MINISTRY!


Furthermore, “being in the ministry” is NOT supposed to be our sole method of making a living! Paul made tents to sell so that he wouldn’t put a financial burden on the church, even though it would have been right for them to help see to his needs. When we stop seeking filthy lucre or expecting to live off the handouts of the “faithful”, we will start learning to GIVE to others and help them learn to do the same!


Jesus Christ died on the cross to set us free from the law of sin and death. He set us free to be obedient to Him. He loved us first so that we could love Him, and thereby learn to love others. He wrote His law on our hearts, and as we learn Torah we begin to truly understand the nature and character of God. That’s the spiritual progression we should be modeling our lives after. If we aren’t seeing this in our churches, then it’s time to take stock and see if we need to make a change.

 

Like Paul said: Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage. (Gal 5:1) I insist that this includes the bondage of a church corporation dressed up to look like Jesus’ own Church.

 

Remember, Jesus’ Church isn’t a building! WE are the Church! When we grab hold of that concept, we will reclaim our freedom in Christ to be the ministers He has called us ALL to be. Then maybe God will be able to get us to move in the direction HE wants us to go.

 

There’s time to get out of the clone-line and give ourselves with joyful abandon to Christ! Don’t let separation anxiety keep you from the freedom Jesus has for you. Ask Holy Spirit to lead you to encounter others who are part of His true Church, and He’ll do it! Look for other believers to have fellowship with (it doesn’t have to look like “regular” church to be completely edifying).

 

I am NOT saying that all churches are bad. I’m not saying that all the people in a bad church are bad, either. I’m saying that church shouldn’t be like a restaurant where you sit down, order from a menu and select the predictable fare. Meeting with others to worship shouldn’t be an empty routine where we line up and eat from the spoons whatever we are offered! The real Church is meant to get out into the world and work in the harvest with the Master! Taking time to get together to pray and worship, have communion, wash each other’s feet, and work out a game plan to reap the harvest – that’s what the church should be doing.

 

Think about it!


Pastora Covert

 

June 30, 2012

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