“It’s just me and Jesus!”
No it’s not. Not the real Jesus anyways.
If there’s one thing that drives me crazy it would have to be people who isolate themselves and start getting some “private revelation” that they don’t need church anymore because Jesus is cool with them opting out of it. I think the message behind the opt out is that the church is just not good enough for them.
The trouble is…
Jesus doesn’t like being told he’s cool with stuff. He ain’t your homeboy.
In one place of Scripture he says in regards to communion “This is my body, broken for you” and in another place the Apostle Paul says “Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body.”
I hate to break it to you but if you call yourself a follower of Jesus you’re really just supposed to believe what he says about things. Apologies if this sounds juvenile but sometimes spiritual children need reminders that we are acting like children and will be treated as such.
And spiritual survival should outrank personal preference.
Here are a few dangers I have watched destroy people’s faith when they swallow the lie that Jesus is ok with them not being an integral part of a local church family: (Note that it normally takes a few years before the rot of carnality, legalism, or spiritual weirdism is apparent to outsiders)
1. They think they are stronger than they are.
Maybe you haven’t noticed but your moral strength is not in high demand in heaven. A true Christ follower lives with a desperation of the soul that is a constant reminder of who did the heavy lifting in the whole “Someone save me from the penalty of my sins!” thing. People who think they are all that and a bag of chips will only amount to a bag of chips with this assumption.
Young Christians might beat a couple of addictions etc which leads to a bit of traction and somehow pride in “their achievements”, but at this stage they need mentors so they don’t leave the body of Christ when they get hit by the reality truck of their own weaknesses.
2. They redefine who the body of Christ REALLY is.
Basically this normally means people just like them. In my experience they don’t get along with people just like them for long because they don’t want to be told what to do either. It certainly doesn’t mean people who disagree with them or pastors who know what’s coming next.
Very dangerous when you start “helping out” God. It’s like when my six year old explains something very carefully to me about how money works (Neela calls it “Monies”. “I have 5 monies!”) It’s cute but would destroy our family if I actually took her ideology seriously.
Also note that most atrocities committed against racial groups have to begin by dehumanizing them. “Jewish women are whores and Jewish men are rats”… thank you Adolf. Sounds like an outrageous point to make here but the principle of redefining what makes a human or what makes a church is pretty arrogant and absolutely above our pay grade.
3. They miss the connection of the broken body.
In Christianity up is down and left is right…. and weakness is strength.
Jesus’ body was broken on the cross. His body the church is also broken. Truth: YOU are broken. When you start disconnecting yourself from brokenness and somehow associate yourself with perfection (don’t laugh, most people go through this stage) you are inches from the cliff.
Sub consciously you and I both know that we’ve got problems. When my religion focuses on YOUR problems and not my own, well… now I’ve got a real problem. Simply put, the perfect family isn’t perfect, it’s just loving. Too many of us get hurt (or in my experience actually do the hurting or make a mistake), and quit before we can get fired. I’m not saying every church is a good church but if you’re not committed to A church the common problem is YOU.
You’re too proud to recognize your own sin or have let your own insecurity lead you to the shipwreck of isolation. And if you ever find a perfect church, don’t go because you’ll screw it up.
Off the coast of Haiti where I was swimming was a reef. The turbulent waters pushed me up against it and I tore my foot up, hurting me and put me off of swimming for awhile. Coral reef is not perfect, polished concrete or all that pleasing to the eye in and of itself. It has gaps and holes and imperfections.
Just like you and I.
But the symbiotic life of Christ found only in the church is a beautiful thing…