BEHOLD THE CHURCH
BY: BRENDA IMUS
AN E-MAIL SENT IN RESPONSE TO THE
QUESTION: “WHY DON’T YOU GO TO CHURCH?”
[AUTHOR’S NAME WITHHELD] 2-28-01
Been waiting till I had a little time for reflection before I responded to this letter. Whenever someone asks me what I think about being a part of the organized church, I feel rather like I’m in danger of telling someone to jump off a tall building – and I don’t know if the Lord has already placed a net beneath them. But then I’m reminded that HE is our ‘safety net,’ and that He is always totally dependable. So here goes… I’m leaping with you!
Quite frankly, I’ve come to the conclusion that the organized church has absolutely nothing to do with genuine Christianity. In fact, it’s my conviction that the system as it exists today is ‘Babylon the great,’ or the harlot spoken of in the book of Revelation. It is the ANTI-CHRIST system, masquerading as the true ‘house of God.’ (The antithesis of the ‘Woman’ in Rev. 12, by the way.) That’s not to say there aren’t true believers still within the system… but there will come a time when the Lord will call all of His own true believers OUT OF HER. Not all will listen... some will continue to deny that ‘inward leading,’ and will ‘share in her plagues’ because they refused to hear God when He tried to speak to them... Nevertheless, He IS speaking, or WILL SOON speak, to those with ‘ears to hear.’ God grant that we listen!
Problem is, even when we’re told to ‘leave her,’ we tend to start looking for SOMEPLACE ELSE to go–rather than sitting still, and realizing that it is SOMEONE whom we are seeking... and He is already within us! All we need do is learn to simply allow Him to live in/through us... without insisting upon having a set of rules and traditions to live by to ‘prove’ we’re really Christians (to both ourselves and to others).
I’ll be honest. Such freedom is a scary thing. And we DO need one another. But as we move away from the structured organization that purports to be ‘the church,’ and unto Christ ALONE, we will find ourselves – just now and then, here and there – recognizing other ‘kindred souls’ who are also being disenfranchised from the system. By the Spirit, we are knit together with them. Not in any religious setting or structure... but simply as friends... brethren... true spiritual soul mates in Christ Jesus. We are not a structure, a system, or an organization of people. We are the spiritual body of Christ, being formed in this world to do His work by His Spirit.
Let me give you a practical real life example of how this works. I love camping and horseback riding. A couple of years ago, around the campfire (others present were mostly ‘unbelievers,’) I was asked a simple question–why didn’t I go to church? (Funny thing is, these folks knew I was a believer, though I don’t go around hollering ‘Praise the Lord!’ or sporting ‘Honk if you love Jesus’ bumper stickers on my truck. :>) I began to speak, and felt the Spirit of the Lord being quickened in/through me. I realized one particular woman there was absolutely riveted to my words. I spoke briefly, and when another professing Christian began taking offense, I let the subject drop. (You can never argue another person into the truth – It must be revealed to them, or they’ll not be able to receive it (HIM). On the other hand, if a person really WANTS the truth, you will not be able to PREVENT THEM from receiving it. That would be a failure of God – and He never fails! So we learn to relax.)
I did, however, know to pray for the woman who had been paying such rapt attention. The ‘opportunity arose’ for us to go riding as a twosome the next day. She had more questions. By the grace of Christ within me, I had more answers, and the Spirit of God was as palpable as water between us. She was set free from the spirit of religious intimidation that day, by the Truth Who is Jesus Christ. We were knit together – and have become very close friends. Often we just ‘do things’ together–but sometimes we stop to pray, or sing songs in the car as we travel here and there–or share a Scripture that was meaningful – or give Godly advice, comfort or encouragement to one another. Whether we’re consciously acknowledging Jesus Christ or not, we’re both aware that our REAL LIVES are found together in Him... He is our only real connection. She is, in the most real possible way, my sister. I’d die for her – and I know she’d do the same for me.
But guess what? I have SEVERAL friends like this! None of them came to be my friend through my own plans, or because we went to church together... but only because the LORD brought us together (and whatsoever the Lord has joined…) We gather as the Spirit prompts for times of prayer… or to watch a ‘chick flick’ at someone’s house… or just for the pleasure of being together. Sometimes weeks go by, and we barely touch base. Then all of a sudden, we’re hungry to get together. This week we gathered at one home to watch a movie, and spent all evening sharing and praying instead. We felt the work wasn’t completed… so we decided to gather here at my house tomorrow morning. I haven’t told anyone that I intend to fast until after our fellowship time is through–but I’d bet anything that most of them are going to be fasting, as well. We are remarkably ‘in sych’ with the Spirit of God, and therefore, with one another. All of us are completely in love with everyone else. And it has ALL been accomplished by the Lord.
This ‘kindredness’ isn’t limited to other women. But I’m very careful not to ever do anything to threaten my husband’s rightful place in my life, nor to give the enemy the opportunity to turn something pure and holy into something questionable and/or unclean. In other words... I am very careful to maintain appropriate physical distance between myself and believing men. We can LOVE one another, from a pure heart – but must always be aware of the temptation, when true love is involved, to get our physical bodies involved. It’s like they have a ‘mind’ of their own. (Of course they do – and it’s carnal!) If we think we’re immune to such temptation, then we’re close to falling!
There is so much more to this. The easy comfort of confessing our sins to one another, to ‘clear the pipeline’ when we sense it’s clogged up. The remarkably strong love we have for one another’s families, and the praying this engenders. The way distance and time fail to fade our affection for one another… The real ‘knit together’ sense we have, and the experience of God’s Spirit moving among us, whether we’re physically together or apart. It’s all so simple, and yet incredibly profound.
Suffice it to say: Christ IS building His church… and the gates of hell are NOT prevailing against her. Hallelujah! Follow your Heart, dear sister. God is going to bless and lead you in the days ahead.
Loving you in Him,
BEHOLD THE CHURCH, WHY DON’T YOU GO TO CHURCH [Brenda Imus] 1