Yes, I need a new religion.
I am a Christian Pastor of almost 20 years. I served as a minister for two denominations: the Southern Baptist Convention and the Lutheran Church.
Between pastoral positions, I had the privilege of visiting an Eastern Orthodox parish for a year, and learned many things as a result of our journey.
I have studied in two Seminaries and a Bible School (at my own expense!!) I have baptized, married and buried countless people. I have coached many friends in Christ through the valley of the shadow of death, right up to the gates of heaven. I have performed exorcisms…fasted for days…debated for months… fought against the abortion mill… written countless essays on almost every conceivable day-to-day topic and preached countless sermons.
In 20 years I have NEVER preached a sermon twice, even when serving in a new congregation.
I have molded myself according to perceived needs… dressed differently, praised differently, preached differently, evangelized differently… all in an effort to be all things to all people for the sake of Christ. (1 Cor. 9:19-23) I have never placed personal preferences before the mission to share the Gospel and make new disciples for Christ.
I have ministered personally to the homeless and rescued a couple of drug-addicted prostitutes. I have fought denominational leaders in defense of congregations. I have served in soup kitchens, filled people’s refrigerators at my own expense, paid countless water and electric bills, bought countless bags of food, helped countless people seeking for new jobs, filled countless gas tanks and even “adopted” immigrant families who have arrived to this country with absolutely nothing but the clothes on their backs.
I have loved ministering to the elderly and have spent countless hours playing checkers with folks who after 15 minutes don’t even remember my name.
Liz and I raised our children “on the road.” Since they remember, we have always been involved in ministry in some way, shape or form- including radio, internet and television.
There have been times when I have felt far from God… other times, near. I have had visions… dreams. I have seen angels, demons, and even heard the voice of God.
But in all my years of ministry, I must confess that my dealings with “sinners” have always been more pleasant than my dealings with most Christians.
I am well familiar with the routine when going into and leaving a church… At first, you are seen as a Hercules, or perhaps as the incarnation of “The 13th Apostle” of Christ. You are adored, praised… eyes look at you with contemplative admiration, even though they know nothing about you besides your resume and what your references have told them.
Most Pastors are like screens on the wall upon which church members project their expectations and dreams. It never fails… those who in the beginning welcome you with the loudest “Hosannas!” will most likely be the ones screaming “Crucify him!” in the end. Those who beg you in the beginning to become your disciples, will in the end slander and trample your reputation- GUARANTEED!
But the most interesting aspect of all… is how the aspects of politics, control, competition, greed, judgement, partisanship, and gossip are oftentimes at the center of your average town church.
If you want to learn how to love your enemies…GO TO CHURCH!
What I am trying to say is that I am tired of all the FALSE CHRISTIANS in the churches. The good ones are few and far in between. Why go to a church where you constantly have to keep yourself from backstabbers and betrayers? Why would anyone want to go to church, only to find in a condensed manner, what is so prevalent in the secular world?
I am a servant of Lord Jesus Christ and will never leave Him, but I need a new “religion.” I need to be among a people who take the commands of our Teacher seriously. I need to be among a people who are completely selfless, like Lord Jesus.
A people that actually love to pray…who love to praise God, dance, sing and search the Scriptures. A religion where most devotees are not “armchair theologians.” A religion where we live lives of compassion for everyone…even livestock. A religion where people of all backgrounds are RESPECTED.
Where the process of maturing is nurtured through love.
I need a religion where being yourself is 100% ok… and to submit to God 100% is even better. I need a religion that actually teaches the words of the Master without filtering them through denominational prejudices. I need a religion where the Apostolic Fathers are the most pristine interpreters of the Apostles’ words in Scripture, rather than UNIVERSITY PROFESSORS and their doctoral “theses.”
I need a religion where the word “Christian” means more than a political party or a casual affiliation. Where the word “Christian” actually means something DIFFERENT from the modus operandi of this world. Where the Word of God is actually held to the highest standard. Where people try to understand what it means that “God is love” by loving one another, and those outside of the churches.
Lord Jesus Christ did not establish today’s churches. They do not represent in any way, shape or form the disciplic movement of Lord Jesus. They are churches created in the image and likeness of denominational ambitions and schisms.
But before I end… I must publicly admit that I have met a few…perhaps 2 handfuls of persons, who sincerely strive to live as uncompromising disciples of Christ. We are a small circle of believers who do not doubt our sincere devotion to Christ, who can speak the truth in love to one another, and who sacrifice for each other without expecting anything in return. I pray that in the midst of all these sufferings, that we are able to endure to the end, until the return of our Master.
I need a religion of intense devotion- where it is a blessing to be fully immersed in God-consciousness, rather than always trying to be as worldly or secular as possible so that people outside of church can think we’re “cool.”
I need the religion of Christ.