Dear Church: I Left And I’m Not Going Back

I left because I started to ask, “why do we do what we do?” “What does Scripture say?” Finding the answer to those questions is what led me here.​

Christians don’t know what to do with those who leave the church.

I’ve seen a few typical responses. These are either reactions to or explanations for people leaving. These responses indicate something about the foundation and dynamics operating in the Christian Church.

These will be in no particular order.

  • Indignant. Some are incredibly angry that a person would not agree and align with their idea of the importance of church or traditional Christian ideals.

This indicates there is a foundation of control upon which Christianity is built or the conduit through which it is practiced.

  • Control. Some are frustrated that this person is no longer able to be controlled.

This points to how powerless people in religion feel and their need to cover or compensate for this powerlessness. This is evidenced in various doctrines and traditions.

  • Fear. Some are afraid that you’ll be lost or “the devil’s going to get you.”

This shows how many have been shamed and scared into life with YAH.

  • That’s none of my business. Some don’t feel they are mature enough to relate and converse with someone who may be grappling with their faith and religion. So, they avoid it altogether.

This points to the social system embedded in the Christian church and how people see their roles therein.

  • Longing. In a phrase, “I wish I could do that. I wish I was strong enough to do that.”

This points to the exhaustion of people in religion. Many are tired as they run on the hamster wheel of religion, but it keeps you codependent upon its system. So, you can’t really leave (you can, but you feel like you can’t).

  • Devalue. This is the belief that you are of no value or importance if you are not a part of this belief system anymore.

This points to the incomplete system of validation the Church has set up. People look to pastors, church community, no other Christians to validate themselves. Anyone who does not adhere to this value system immediately and innately loses their value.

Your response to this shouldn’t be to cover up or justify how you or your church normally responds. My encouragement to you if you’ve read this through, is ask. Figure out why people are leaving the Church and Christianity as a whole. Don’t make assumptions.

I left because I started to ask, “why do we do what we do?” “What does Scripture say?” Finding the answer to those questions is what led me here.

People are leaving a system they once felt so strongly about. I felt I had to defend this faith. I felt a responsibility and a weight that many feel today.

I’ve been hesitant at times to share more about my beliefs before I left because people use that to explain away why I left. They’ll say, “You just weren’t doing it right. You just weren’t serious. I’ve always been certain about _. I’ve always known that! You were just at the wrong church. Not all churches are the same.”

I’ve reached a place now where I’m okay with the conclusions people will draw. I think one of two could happen if people started being curious when people leave.

One. They will start to look at what the Church has been doing for so long and make radical changes.

Two. Others will start to leave — much like an exodus.

This is what I think some pastors or Christians are fearful of. They’re afraid to look within. They’re afraid to question and challenge. What if I find out something I don’t like? What if everything I’ve built my doctrine on falls apart? Where would I go? What would I do?

It’s okay to not have the answers to those questions. So, if you do find yourself in that place, feel free to reach out to me!

He is good.
Everything will be okay!

Parables And The Torah, Pt. 2

The New Testament isn’t saying anything new. It is echoing Torah. Messiah is echoing and declaring Torah!

In the average Christian church, there is a discounting of the relevance and potency of the Torah (first five books of the Old Testament) and the Writings due to misinterpretations of Scripture.

Statements like, “That’s the old stuff–we don’t need that anymore,” “We’re under a new covenant,” and “We’re not under the law, we’re under grace,” get us in a lot of trouble. 

Many who would profess to be followers of Yeshua (Aramaic name of the Messiah), deny the very doctrine and source from which He taught–the Torah. They use many of the excuses listed above to validate their living out of just a few books in the Bible.

I am convinced that our lives will be much more enriched when we seek to understand Scripture within its complete context.

Refusing to critically and objectively study what some call the Old and the New Testament IN CONTEXT leaves many of us hungry for truth. To apply Scripture out of its context is to starve yourself; for it cannot produce real fruit.

To apply principles of Scriptures contextually, we will have to unlearn much of what we’ve learned.

If you don’t remember anything else I say, remember this: the “New” Testament is commentary on the Torah, Prophets, and the Writings. That means its foundation is the Torah. They derive their thinking and understanding of Scripture from Torah. So, we must know Torah to properly interpret and apply what we read. Additionally, this means these commentaries will not deviate or disagree with the Torah.

The first couple hundred years after Messiah ascended, they did not have what we have compiled today. So, they were teaching from the: you guessed it–Torah, Prophets, and the Writings.

I know. Many believe they were reading out of pocket New Testaments and following along as these events took place; but, that’s just not what happened.

Heck, it’s unlikely the writers of the New Testament would’ve thought what they were writing would be considered Scripture.

So, when Paul writes to Timothy in 2 Timothy 3:16 saying, “All Scripture is breathed out by Elohim and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for setting straight, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of Elohim might be fitted, equipped for every good work;” the Scripture he is referring to is the Scripture they already knew: the Torah, Prophets, and the Writings. 

Most of the time when Christians hear Torah, their mind goes to the “law that Jesus fulfilled so that we don’t have to do it.” There are many things wrong with that perspective. However, we have to start somewhere.

First, it does not mean “law.” That is a common application of it; but, it’s not the most accurate. Many translate Torah as “law.” However, it is best translated as instruction, teaching, doctrine.

Simply, the Torah is YAH teaching us how to live life. It’s His instructions, descriptions, and definitions for life. It is the WORD (Ps. 19:7; Ps. 119:142; 1 Tim. 1:8, Rom. 3:31) and Messiah is the WORD made flesh (John 1:1-14).

In Matthew 22:36-37, 39-40, Messiah has an exchange that helps sum up the Torah.

Teacher, which is the great command in the Torah? And יהושע said to him, ” ‘You shall love יהוה your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your being, and with all your mind.’ And the second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commands hang all the Torah and the Prophets.”

When Messiah said, “The Law and the Prophets hang on these two commands,” he is saying every Word given in the Torah falls within those two categories. Every Word or principle given to Israel instructed them in how to love YAH and love people (including themselves). Also, it is a way of saying, this is the foundation for all instruction.

Recently, I was reading Paul’s letters and enjoying an enriching time in the Scripture when I came across a verse that is a prime example of this.

Colossians 3:5 reads, “Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: whoring, uncleanness, passion, evil desire and greed of gain, which is idolatry.”

When examined in the Greek (the original language of the book of Colossians), these words sum up the instruction of Torah. We’ll explore idolatry, uncleanness, passion, and greed.

Idolatry

The word idolatry or immorality refers to a selling off of ourselves for the purpose of sin (failure). It has a connotation of adultery. It is to cheapen what is valuable. It is to give over to someone what already belonged to another. 

Torah is riddled with instructions against idolatry. Idolatry gives honor to the created rather than the Creator. Additionally, idolatry is a fruit of something. Idolatry is possible when the true value of YAH is not known or is incomplete. 

“You do not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of that which is in the heavens above, or which is in the earth beneath, or which is in the waters under the earth..”

Shemoth (Exodus) 20:4 TS2009

Uncleanness

The word for uncleanness or impurity paints a picture of mixing. Torah goes into depth always about the issue with mixing.

“‘Guard My laws. Do not let your livestock mate with another kind. Do not sow your field with mixed seed. And do not put a garment woven of two sorts of thread upon you.”

Wayyiqra (Leviticus) 19:19 TS2009

“They did not destroy the peoples, As יהוה had commanded them, But mixed with the nations, And learned their works, And served their idols, And they became a snare to them.

Tehillim (Psalms) 106:34‭-‬36 TS2009

The issue with mixing is expounded upon in the book of 1 John. John goes into depth about YAH being light. In Him is no darkness. YAH is not mixed — neither should we be. He is whole and complete — lacking nothing.

Passion

The word passion refers to an inordinate desire. A desire that is misplaced or out of order–which indicates something was not covered properly. Usually, when we think about passion/lust, the weight or responsibility lies on the person dealing with it. This is not how things work. Lust/passion is a fruit of something. It is an inordinate desire that comes when one lacks the proper perspective of your value.

The father is the one YAH gives responsibility to to provide identity and value. If a father does not cover properly, this lack will create an inordinate desire that shows up as lust. This could have been prevented if the father had covered properly. Torah is thorough in showing how to cover the vulnerable and the importance thereof. 

Greed

The word greed or covetousness means advantage and aggression. This is a contrary idea to what is taught in Torah. Many have often wondered why did YAH always instruct the people of Israel to get only what they needed. He’d find fault if they took more than they needed.

  1. This was a sign of someone who had not had Sabbath perfected in them. In other words, if they took more than they needed, this was a sign of someone who did not trust YAH. They were not yet able to rest in His provision and decided to provide for themselves.

When Sabbath is perfected in someone, they do not seek to provide for themselves. They see YAH as provider and what they have for others. YAH covers me and I don’t have to look out for myself. They trust. They do not strive. Providing for yourself is strife.

  1. Getting more than you needed meant someone else would go without. They’re always collateral damage when we do not trust YAH to provide.

The Torah is all about how to care for others and trusting YAH to care for you.

The purpose for this post is to draw attention to the connection New Testament Scriptures have with the Torah. The New Testament isn’t saying anything new. It is echoing Torah. Messiah is echoing and declaring Torah!

All of the words and right-rulings of YAH are to reveal (cultivate) two things in us: love for YAH and for people. The Torah makes provisions for the citizen and for the stranger, for the vulnerable, for the weak. 

If we live a life that is me-centered, we are not living Torah.

Learning Torah will change your life!

Torah is for today — and not in a vague “good for reference” kind of way. Instead, it is for today — actively, intensively, transforming its students.

“The Torah of יהוה is perfect, bringing back the being; The witness of יהוה is trustworthy, making wise the simple;”

Tehillim (Psalms) 19:7 TS2009

Stay tuned for more posts on Torah!

You Can’t Escape It!

Worship is life. Worship is behavior. Worship is action. Worship has nothing to do with sound, music, and is not a specific religious discipline. Your entire life is worship! The system of life is worship. You can’t escape it!

The world is changing, so people say. I don’t think that it is. Life has a cyclical nature. I.e. history repeats itself. People are no more evil or good today than any other time. I used to think we were better off now. I see advantages and disadvantages for any moment in time. So, while we’ve seen development, increase in access, extensive knowledge, different uses of resources, the nature of man has not changed. Thankfully, the nature of YAH hasn’t either.

I used to have a particular childlike reverence for Christianity and maybe it was never that. I believed we were the only ones who knew truth and had access to it.

Due to misinterpretations, mistranslations, political interference, and other forces, truth has been distorted into Christianity as we know it today. Let me be crystal clear: Christianity was never a good thing at any point in history. I mention this because the argument I hear to refute criticism of the Church or Christianity is usually something along the lines of, “That’s just modern Christianity. Ancient Christianity wasn’t like this! This is just post-modernism. We need to return to the work of the first-century church!”

(Disclaimer: Granted, by saying Christianity has never been a good thing, I am not criticizing directly the people).

Many desire for the church to go back to what the first-century church was doing — the New Testament Christianity. However, “New Testament Christianity” wasn’t really Christianity at all. It didn’t look the way we think it did. In fact, it looked like what Hebrews were already doing in the “old testament.” The root was different. The fruit was different.

We’ve bought into this idea that what (we think) is old and outdated (Torah) is done away with and it has cost us greatly!

Firstly, the Torah is not old or outdated; instead, it is everlasting. If you were to reflect on the love of God, would you describe it as old or outdated simply because you’ve known of its existence in ancient times? No. We understand the love of God is so intimately Him and is everlasting–meaning: it was, is, and will be.

The Torah is the same.

The Torah was, is, and will be. As a Christian, I imagine this thought would sound terrifyingly heretical. It would sound as if I’m saying we should worship the Torah. And yes, we should; but, not as we currently understand worship.

Worship is life. Worship is behavior. Worship is action. Worship has nothing to do with sound, music, and is not a specific religious discipline. Your entire life is worship! The system of life is worship. You can’t escape it!

Given that humans are behavioral (in that they behave from the belief systems they’ve learned), your behavior, conscious and subconscious, indicates your belief system. This belief system could be control, manipulation, rest, etc. Regardless, you will always behave in accordance with your belief system whether it is healthy or not. Behavior indicates foundation. Foundation is where our loyalty, commitment, and duty lies. We are loyal and committed to it until and unless that foundation is challenged.

So, when I mention that we ought to worship Torah, I mean it must be our foundation. We must live it. We cannot live it if we have not challenged our current foundation or system. As long as our foundation is allowed to stay in place, we will always behave from that place.

John 1:1-14 describes the intimate relationship between YAH and the Torah. It begins, “In the beginning was the Word…” The Torah is the Word and the Word is YAH. YAH has revealed Himself in His Torah.

This may be a hard pill to swallow. I imagine upon accepting or at least exploring this at truth, some of us would become particularly religious and committed to reading this text. And we ought to read it! However, Torah extends far beyond the text itself.

Torah is life. Life is Torah. It is the parameters within which we experience life. This is to say, whether or not you believe Torah, life is happening around in accordance to it. That sounds a bit grand, I’m sure! But, it’s true!

As we live, we have the choice to go with the grain of Torah or work against it. This may be the operation of free will. Many of the institutions, systems, and ideals permeating in society operate from a foundation that goes against the grain.

Participants in these systems bear weight, incessantly attempt to validate themselves, are independent, unwilling/unable to be vulnerable, and do not trust. This is the cost of doing away with Torah.

The Church was built on a culture that goes against the grain of the flow of YAH, of life — of the Torah. Its culture is labor. When we invest our resources (energy, intellectualism, finances, etc.) into validating ourselves to others, we are laboring.

What is the benefit of learning Torah?

The Torah teaches rest. The Torah speaks heavily about Sabbath. Christians don’t often know what to do with that. If I were to suggest that we should keep Sabbath, the response from many would be, “Jesus is my Sabbath.” Most times, they don’t really know what that means. These are just pre-recorded responses for anything that hasn’t been searched out.

I do believe we ought to keep Sabbath, but my understanding of Sabbath is deepening. Sabbath is more than a day. Sabbath is a constant. It is a cycle by which we experience healing and can determine where we are truly resting. Rest signifies confidence. Rest signifies trust. When I learn to rest, it means I am confident in YAH, have trust with others, and am confident in myself. Rest signifies understanding your place in the world and seeing YAH for who He is — the Provider/Source.

The Torah teaches vulnerability. The culture of religion leaves no room for real vulnerability. The culture of religion fosters a need to cover deficiencies, immaturity, or lack of knowledge. We have this idea that we need to be at a certain place by now and this “certain place” is often manufactured by people. This creates an unsafe space to be exactly where you are and identifying exactly where you are is the starting point for healing. Because the Torah offers a different perspective on sin, life, God, family, prayer, baptism, etc. than those pervading Christian circles, those that know it learn to live lives of vulnerability before YAH. They understand the way YAH sees them and there is no fear in approaching Him. So, doing away with the Torah (though it can never be done away with) keeps vulnerability away. As long as we stay unsure about how God sees us, we’ll never come boldly to the throne.

The Torah teaches trust. An underlying precept in what the Torah reveals is that nothing exists in isolation of anything else. Everything is connected. Nothing can provide for itself. To allow myself to be provided for, I must trust. To continue the cycle of healing, I must trust. For the family to be whole, I must trust. Trust is a beautiful picture that is displayed in all things. We often talk about trust in two main areas: romantic relationships and spiritual matters. It’s so much deeper than that. Trust is the foundation of the worlds. This is why it is imperative that we learn trust. When we learn trust, we operate with YAH and not against Him. It breeds rest. It elevates us to peace!

The Torah teaches YAH. Have you ever said these words: “I just want to know You” or “I just want to be like You”? The Torah is the answer for that! You see, YAH is light. Light is a picture of knowledge. Knowledge is light. Light is standard. YAH is standard. YAH is truth. To obtain knowledge is to obtain YAH — to know Him, to know truth, to know peace. That’s all knowledge is. It’s Him. How can you know Him if you do not know His Torah? His Torah reveals His heart, His ideas, His nature.

The Torah is the answer for all calamity in the world. The very topics that Christians debate about, doctrinal differences, sin’s rampant run in society, etc. can all be healed through Torah. But, we have to be willing to challenge the things we say we believe. Whether we submit to it or not, the Torah is happening around us every day. You can’t escape it! It’s happening in our lives, daily, weekly, yearly. Will you wake up and know it? Will you perceive it?

Who Is God?

Most of the time, figuring God out looks like describing Him. “He’s the God who heals.” Good is an understatement about who He is. Evil is a falsehood about who He is. So, who or what is He by definition?

There is perhaps no other verse quite as significant as the one that records the conversation between Mosheh (Moses) and YAH (God).

“And Elohim said to Mosheh, “I am that which I am.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Yisra’ĕl, ‘I am has sent me to you.’ (Exodus 3:14 TS2009)

At first glance, I’ve always found this declaration significant. But, my perception paled in comparison to the depth of significance of such a statement — of such a reality! It would be difficult to understand the magnitude of this declaration if I simply read it within the context of this one story. As I read and live Torah, the significance of this statement takes shape.

Any being that would introduce themselves this way would spark great curiosity. I’ve always believed we should always be curious about YAH. If we can completely figure God out, or think we can, it’s probably that we never had Him figured out in the first place. Most of the time, figuring God out looks like describing Him. “He’s the God who heals.” “He’s the God that sees.” But, we rarely ever truly define Him. There is a difference between description and definition. (But that’s a blog for another day). Who or what is He by definition?

  1. God is not A being. He IS being.

We often say, “God is the most powerful being.” This is faulty. To put Him in a realm with other beings is to say he can be matched. It is to say there are others like Him or there are others other than Him. “I am יהוה, and there is none else – there is no Elohim besides Me.” (Isaiah 45:5). This sounds good; but, what does it really mean? It does not mean there is a being that is beneath Him or He is greater. It means, He is all there is. If He were a being, then He would derive His identity and being from another. He would exist through emulation or comparison. But, because He is being (existence itself), He is complete within Himself and does not need to inquire to gain insight as to who He is.

2. God is omnipotent.

He does not go to another to tell Him who He is or what He can or cannot do. For there is no other to go to. This speaks to the power He has. A lot of us would love to not have to answer to anyone. But, “with great power, comes great responsibility (shout out to Stan Lee).” He does not have to request permission to be or to create. Wow! He can create? Cool! This makes God sound like He has superpowers. Let’s take a closer look. It is not to say that He has ‘more powers’ than another. It is to say, He literally has all of it. He is the only one with it. Whatever is ever given power or life must be sustained through Him. Nothing can exist on its own. He is never caught in the act of existing, He is existence. In this way, He is omnipotent.

3. We have existence. God does not.

God is not given existence. Who would give it to Him? What can He interact with outside of Himself to authorize Him to exist? He is existence. “I AM THAT I AM”: I was being. I am being. I will always be. He gives us existence for as long as He desires — even what/who may dare to oppose Him must be given existence from and through Him.

4. God is omnipresent.

All things don’t merely exist because he gives existence externally. An image comes to mind of humans being handed rations of existence. It is to say humans can go away from Him and handle their existence as they will. This is inaccurate. Nothing exists outside of Him and never leaves His presence. The psalmist David speaks to this truth. 7 Where would I go from Your Spirit? Or where would I flee from Your face? 8 If I go up into the heavens, You are there; If I make my bed in She’ol, see, You are there. 9 I take the wings of the morning, I dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, 10 There, too, Your hand would lead me, And Your right hand hold me. 11 If I say, “Darkness shall cover me,” Then night would be light to me; 12 Even darkness is not dark for You, But night shines as the day – As is darkness, so is light (Psalm 139:7-12).

I used to think this set of verses was pointing to the compassion of God. Sure. That may be true; but, it is incomplete. David, having been raised knowing the Torah, understood this complex truth.

All things exist within Him. The universe is in Him. We are in Him (John 1). In this way, He is omnipresent. There is no space in the universe where the presence of God does not exist. For all things have their existence through (INSIDE) Him. “In Him, we live move and have our being.” If we can grasp this truth, it will be revolutionary.

5. God is truth.

He is not truth because there is right or wrong. There is simply Him. He is the basis for reality — therefore, what is truth. He is the context within which all things exist. His essence provides the principles by which this life/reality is governed.

6. He is knowledge Himself.

God does not learn. What is there that He does not know? He is complete within Himself and can do what He wills. What can He teach Himself? In this way, He is omniscient. He knows all, because He is all. We acquire knowledge by going through the process of challenging what is about us and come to the conclusion of truth — Him. When we acquire knowledge, we acquire Him. When we acquire knowledge, we learn to exist as He does — complete, lacking nothing. Ponder these verses:

The fear of יהוה is the beginning of knowledge;”

(Proverbs 1:7 TS2009)


“And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.”

Colossians 1:9

“In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Colossians 2:3

7. He is one.

“Hear, O Yisra’ĕl: יהוה our Elohim, יהוה is one” (Deut. 6:4 TS2009)!

Much of the perspectives that pervade society align with the idea of a dualistic world. One dualistic perspective indicates there are two (potentially equal) forces in the world that exists in every being — good and evil. Sometimes, unknowingly, we subscribe to this belief that God is dualistic. It is problematic to apply this filter to Him.

God does not consist of parts or contradicting forces. He is not confused, wrestling with whether or not He’ll be evil or good today. He is who He is. “I AM that I AM.” He is existence itself. Good is an understatement about who He is. Evil is a falsehood about who He is. He does not need to subscribe to our small ideas about what it means to be good. Truthfully, the reason he is good is because we know exactly what we can expect of Him — to be one. He is one. He is whole and complete. I can always examine the work of His hand and it will produce and reveal oneness.

“And Elohim said to Mosheh, “I am that which I am.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Yisra’ĕl, ‘I am has sent me to you.’ (Exodus 3:14 TS2009)

YAH sent Mosheh to tell His people that I AM is with you. In other words, “Existence itself has come to rescue you.” Taking into account everything written in this blog, this is to say that YAH has decided to give existence to the people of Israel and therefore, absolutely nothing can oppose them! YAH would have to give existence to the opposition in order for it to prosper.

“No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue which rises against you in judgment you shall prove wrong. This is the inheritance of the servants of יהוה, and their righteousness from Me,” declares יהוה.

Yeshayah (Isaiah) 54:17 TS 2009

“Who can stand against?” “No weapon formed against you shall prosper.” These commonly known verses speak to this truth and how Hebrews understand the power of YAH.

YAH is power. He is not merely powerful. He is power. So, you can trust that the force at work in your life is Him and you can trust Him.

“For thus said יהוה, ‘When seventy years are completed, at Baḇel I shall visit you and establish My good word toward you, to bring you back to this place. For I know the plans I am planning for you,’ declares יהוה, ‘plans of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and an expectancy” (Jeremiah 29:10-11).

The Church: We Got It All Wrong

Much of the traditions a church practices are someone’s idea of what metric is appropriate to measure progression or right and wrong. People often ask, “Why is the Church so divided?” We don’t know the real metrics. We don’t know the standard.

“This will be quick,” is what I tell myself every time I begin writing a blog. I’m wrong a lot of the time. But, we’ll see.

So! I just had the most enlightening and encouraging conversation with my sister and so many things were brought out that I’m sure I’ll be meditating on for some time. I’d like to share one of them to challenge our perspective and encourage us on our journey.

The two major questions posed by my sister and I were:

  1. What is sin?
  2. What if it’s (life) not about maturity, but about humility?

Today, I’ll focus on the second one.

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time, you’ve probably noticed a change or shift in perspective– especially in the last two years. Almost two years ago, I left the church and Christianity behind with no idea as to where I was going. What I’ve experienced in my time since leaving has been monumental and incredibly life changing.

As a Christian, unknowingly, I would create big and tiny metrics by which to measure my success or failure at living right or pleasing God. This process is something I see Christians do all the time. It is the general foundation for religion in general. Honestly, I’m still in the process of unlearning and challenging these metrics because there are moments they still have authority or influence in my life.

Much of the traditions a church practices are someone’s idea of what metric is appropriate to measure progression or right and wrong. Some churches emphasize baptism, how you dress, operating in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, consistency in disciplines like praying, fasting, reading the Bible, outreach, or going to church. Most, if not all, emphasize the appearance of a thing and make inferences about what that indicates about your spiritual maturity (i.e. purity culture, your excitement for the “things of God” vs. the “things of man,” your profession, etc.).

It gets even more convoluted when you observe what metrics each individual has set up. “Did I curse today?” “Ooh. I’ve been tithing regularly!” “I’ve been serving diligently at church.” “I haven’t listened to any secular music in a while!”

People often ask, “Why is the Church so divided?” The picture I’ve just painted is precisely why. We don’t know the real metrics. We don’t know the standard.

Another way to say this is: we have no root. Because we have no root, we have to make up (manufacture) fruit and a process (religion) by which to attain it. Christianity is a rootless tree. Its participants spend time validating themselves one to another with their various metrics and live with an uncertainty/anxiety about how God feels toward them. “My metric is better or more important than your metric” — hence all of the infighting.

In all my time in religion, I never found rest. There was always someone to whom I could compare myself and make myself feel more mature or someone I’d feel inferior to. This is the continuous cycle that religion aids in. It arms you with the tools to make fig leaves, to seek and reject validation, and to go against the grain.

We are uncertain of who God really is. We know the God we’ve made up for ourselves. And because we’ve made Him up (or others have done so for us), we have all of these made up ideas about what it takes to please Him.

We are afraid to find out what does please Him because we’re afraid we’re not enough. This idea of us being born sinners and being undeserving of Christ is keeping people bound to a vicious cycle that will refuse to release us. It keeps people believing, “I don’t deserve it. He’s so much greater than I am.”

Aside: It makes me wonder about the relationship between a parent and child. No parent living from light desires to always be greater than their child. They desire for their child to elevate and surpass their level. God is no different. “Greater works shall you do…”

We are afraid to face Him.

We are afraid to truly know Him and be known by Him. So, we create processes and milestones that make us feel worthy to be associated with Him. We seek maturity, spiritual mastery, knowledge, accolades and such to validate ourselves to Him.

This is where the second question comes in.

What if it’s (life) not about maturity, but about humility?

There are many quotes that seek to define humility. I’m sure there is a precise way to define the word, but I’d like to look at the picture of humility. It involves ‘light.’

“God is light and in Him is no darkness” (1 John 1:5). Scripture also refers to Jesus as light. “Therefore יהושע spoke to them again, saying, “I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall by no means walk in darkness, but possess the light of life.” (John 8:12). The Torah is light as well. “For the command is a lamp, And the Torah a light, And reproofs of discipline a way of life” (Proverbs 6:23).

There are a few important precepts to understand about light.

Light gives life. This is to say it is the only Source/Provider.

Light challenges. This is to say, light will expose what something is or isn’t. It will call it to its highest self or truth.

Light reflects. This is to say that light provides identity.

Light is authority. This is to say that light is foundation, seed, root, and dictates the identity of someone or something. It IS the standard.

As a child of Light, we can expect: for God to be our provider, to show us who we are, to challenge and remove what isn’t Him, to be the authority by which we function in this world, and to reveal His standard. Doesn’t this kind of sound like Jesus? “I only do what I see my Father do.” Jesus was called a Son of God because he learned from (submitted to) Light. He’d gone through the necessary process/cycle by which light becomes the only standard.

We often see life as a process by which we are growing to maturity. This is true. But, maturity and humility do not cancel each other out.

Humility is a state of being in which I am submitted to light. Humility is vulnerability. It doesn’t matter if I think or others think I’ve matured if I am untrained in vulnerability. Humility is a picture of trust. If I have not trusted God to provide for me, to show me who I am, to challenge and remove what isn’t Him, to be the authority by which I function in this world, I have simply reached a level of “mastery” in the eyes of society/world.

To describe this humility: I’m not worried about tomorrow and the alleged milestone that may be waiting there for me. I’m not worried about what metric I’ve set up to feel like I’m progressing. I’m not worried about my wants and needs. I’m not worried about giants. I’m not trying to pave my own way. I am present today resting, trusting, open before Him so that He may show me Him.

My sister said this and it drove it home for me. “A child isn’t worried about being able to walk. A child isn’t worried about what they sound like. A child isn’t worried about how to eat or where their next meal will come from.” A child trusts. A child is surrendered. A child rests. A child explores. A child has no care of danger.

In the Church, they talk about having child-like faith. This is a description of it. I am vulnerable and open before my Father. I trust my Father. I see He is good. I see I am good. I am not concerned with getting to a place where I no longer need help of a particular kind. That time will come naturally. It is not my concern the appointed seasons in which I’ll develop this or that. My only responsibility is to stay connected to Him through vulnerability and trust. The connection is what signifies real maturity.

Considering these ideas, my perspective shifts when I think of popularly quoted verses. “I know the plans I have for you.” “Trust in the LORD with all your heart.” “Come boldly to the throne of grace.” “Do not worry about tomorrow.” “Does he not feed the birds?”

Every day, I’ve begun to wake up with the expectation that God will provide for me. God will show me who I am. God is the authority by which I navigate and learn. God is my Father. God knows me. God loves me. God thinks I’m worthy. God knows.

The system and surrounding systems of religion ask us to bear responsibility that isn’t ours. Again, my only responsibility is to stay connected to Him through vulnerability and trust. The steadfast connection is what determines and signifies real maturity.

You Don’t Owe God Anything

“Because He saved me, I owe Him my life.” “He’s been good to me. So, I owe Him ______.” Does this sound familiar? Then, keep reading.

Many of us have been taught, “Because He saved me, I owe Him my life.” “He’s been good to me. So, I owe Him ______.” “Jesus died for me; so, I owe Him..” “It’s the least you can do.”

You may have never said this overtly, but this is the foundation of the faith of many people. Before reading further, you might say, “I do what I do for God, because I get to or because I want to.” Maybe. Don’t let that stop you from reading further.

There are many problems with living from this idea of “I owe God.”

  1. It’s built on conditional love.

The love we experience from YAH is not conditional. We think it is, because we’ve misinterpreted Scripture. Infamously, the passages that speak to the people of Israel saying, “If you do _____, you will be blessed. If you do _____, you will be cursed,” have been understood to list conditions by which YAH exists in relationship with us or what we have to do to make God move or what we shouldn’t do to keep God happy. Then, there are those that completely dismiss it under the impression it has no relevance today. (It is of utmost importance that we understand the true meaning of blessing and cursing; but, that’s for another blog.)

Instead of seeing them as computation sequences for a relationship with YAH, we should study those passages to discover what YAH values (it’s not what a lot of us think).

Additionally, we can study those passages and see them as principles or laws governing everything (and YAH himself). See, YAH is One. He is whole. He is complete. He is holy. Being One is what it means to be holy. YAH is bound to His nature — meaning He cannot and will not act outside of His nature. So, when certain things happen, He will naturally respond a particular way. We never have to guess. He is governed by laws or “ways” that reveal something about who He is intrinsically. He desires for us to walk in those ways — His Way.

Trust in יהוה with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; Know Him in all your ways, And He makes all your paths straight. (Prov. 3:5-6)

  1. Everything you do is to be a NATURAL response — not a weight placed upon you.

See, this is the issue with Christianity as the system it is. Unknowingly, many, if not most, are living life bearing weight. Many Christians are carrying weights and responsibilities that are not theirs.

You are not the “last Jesus” they’ll see. That’s a weight.

You don’t live a certain way for the appearance of things. That’s a weight.

You should be “here” by now. That’s a weight.

“But, I’m the pastor, so I got to..” That’s a weight.

“I can’t stop working. Leaders don’t stop.” That’s a weight.

The lack of vulnerability in the lives of Christians (the leaders as well).. This is due to a weight.

Most Christians and those brought up under the system of Christianity are still bearing weight. The foundation of their relationship with YAH is, “I’m a sinner and while I know Jesus paid my debt, I’m going to live a life of paying it off by going to church, being nice to my atheist neighbors, by serving in the church, reading my Bible, etc. It’s the least that I can do.”

This was me — a checklist Christian. I had a checklist in my heart of what I needed to do to be considered a good Christian in the eyes of God and man. Many are choosing their church, ministers, friends, music, and ministry based on who and what aligns with the checklist they have in their minds. The checklist we feel we need to create that would yield a “holy” life is due to weight. We’ll think we’re coming further along because we know more Scripture, have been more consistent, etc. We’ll find some sort of validation from man and begin to feel “a little less like a sinner.” In reality, you’re only slipping further and further into slavery. Debt is a weight. To live from a place of “I owe God,” is to live from a place of slavery.

Aside: It has been fascinating to me that many Christians have criticized Jews and Hebrews for following the teachings found toward the front of the Bible due to it being seen as a list of rules and regulations (I was one of them). Meanwhile, Christians have simply created their own lists of rules and regulations and are under the impression YAH is more pleased.

Living from the checklist or passed down doctrine, though common, is unnatural. The book of Romans talks about the invisible evidence that YAH is real. Nature mirrors who YAH is and what He does. No tree’s function is based on this idea, “I owe it to the birds to grow” or “It’s my responsibility to have leaves on my branches.” Instead, they live and function freely and there is a natural result produced. The birds can perch. Certain animals can eat. Humans find shade. Trees function the way they do, because that’s how they were designed. The reason the tree is able to function as it should is because it has first received what it needs.

Much like this, our relationship with YAH functions the same way. My life is a natural response to how I’ve been conditioned to think and see (negative or positive). When I explore the relationship with YAH as my Provider (Father), I receive and am conditioned to think and see as He does. My life begins to transform and I function as I should — freely and wholly — without weight.

3. It positions you to give to God without having truly received. (Whether something has been given matters not if the recipient will not receive it. Let’s see if we’ve really received.)

Think about this for a second: “My life is a natural response to how I’ve been conditioned to think and see.” Another way of thinking about this is: My behavior is a result of how I’ve been conditioned to think and see. My behavior is a result of what I value. See, we all learned a value system as we grew up. We act from this place. Equally, Christians learn a value system in Christianity and act from this place. A step further: My life (my behavior) is my worship. We only get there by exploring relationship with YAH as our Provider.

This is a wide shot of the process and its components: YAH is holy. YAH is Light. Light reveals. Light nurtures. Light causes things to grow. If God is Light and is my Provider, He reveals what is broken and fixes it. If God is my Light and my Provider, He will cause me to grow. If God is Light and my Provider, I will see as He does. I will value what He values. I will function as I am meant to.

The value system of Christianity is backwards and takes its cues from the world around it. Therefore, it cannot produce the process I just laid out above. Many have questioned for years why the Church looks strikingly similar to society. It is built on the same values. Until the foundation is completely rebuilt, the Church will be ineffective.

The emphasis and foundation has long been “doing” and not “being.” That’s one description of the system of Christianity. For example, Christians keep seeing worship as the first 30-minutes of a service (something we do), rather than our lives (who we are). What’s worse is Christians say, “worship is more than a song,” but continue to relegate the “worship experience” to music — saying one thing and doing another. This is the major issue with Christianity. It is a breeding ground for hypocrisy. I’m saying this as one who was very deep in this system of Christianity and am still having to unlearn the slavery and religion I didn’t think I was learning all that time.

Taking up the stance of “I owe God,” is to say many different things at the same time. It is to say: God requires something of me. I am in debt. I have something of value to give God. God needs me. God is lacking. The list goes on.

It is most interesting to study the Torah and see how YAH instructed Israel to handle debt. YAH understands that a person cannot ever truly be free if they are in debt. This is why our relationship with Him is not based off of debt. Our relationship with Him is based on trust. Society is built on debt/credit and is predicated on a lack of trust and value of people, hence the interest rates and fees.

If you have not learned YAH as your Provider (Father), you have not yet received. If you have not experienced YAH as your Provider, you will accept the weight of providing for yourself (hence the checklist; an attempt to provide validation for yourself). Many of us think we know Him as Provider because we can recount a time or two we were blessed financially or with an opportunity. Unfortunately, we’ll claim He provided for us in those moments, but won’t let Him provide true validation (we’ll keep seeking it from man). We’ll keep seeking validation through traditions and habitual practices. We’ll refuse to be vulnerable because our standing with Him depends upon us being our “very best.” If you have not learned YAH as your Provider, you have nothing to give.

This means all your religion has been given from an empty place. Religion is always empty. So, you’ll likely return to the altar still feeling like you’re not good enough. You’ll likely return to the altar to “rededicate” your life to Him. You’ll likely return to the altar to have an emotional experience through worship. You’ll likely return to that church service faithfully to never jeopardize the validation that comes from man.

The foundation upon which you’ve built your faith could be what’s keeping you from experiencing true freedom. If you are willing to examine your heart over the next year for any ideology that says, “I owe God” or “I owe God because __,” do it. There’s so much freedom on the other side!

You don’t owe God anything.

Religion: System Failure

Religion at its core is the packaging of what was sacred and intimate and creating a system of it. Religion will never have the power to heal, just as fig leaves will never have the power to truly cover.

The world’s confidence is a false confidence.

Any confidence that positions itself to never be vulnerable is not true confidence. It is insecurity masked as pride or confidence.

The systems of the world perpetuate an illegitimate means by which to be confident.

One’s ability to make oneself vulnerable determines the magnitude of confidence (and wholeness) they’ll develop. To be naked is to be vulnerable (to be whole).

We see this condition with Adam and Eve. Before the curse (what many call “the fall”), Adam walked with YAH in the  garden, naked (whole). He had nothing to hide and could be perfectly confident/free.

This changed. Once they had the knowledge of good and evil and heard YAH drawing near to them, they hid. Then, they sewed fig leaves together to cover themselves.

Many wear fig leaves in an attempt to secure covering or to present themselves as whole, together, not lacking in anything.

While YAH does desire that we be whole, any covering we make outside of Him is illegitimate and not capable of proper covering.

Covering is not for hiding flaws, but a safe place in which you receive the nutrients to be whole.

As long as humans will make themselves vulnerable to YAH and each other, they will find the nutrients or supply to be whole or complete.

You don’t have to look far to find representations of fig leaves.

Fig leaves are what I use to appear whole instead of doing the work to be whole. Fig leaves are those things we present instead of presenting the truth of our broken condition.

Religion is a system of the world and one expression of fig leaves. (This does not mean there isn’t an absolute Truth or Deity we are to be in relationship with).

Religion at its core is the packaging of what was sacred and intimate and creating a system of it.

Religion, as people have organized and packaged it, is a means by which we attempt to appear confident and together. Religion reverses the natural order of relationship with YAH. Relationship with Him transforms you from the inside to the outside. Religion places weight in outward works that do not truly bring about an inward change or healing.

Religion will never have the power to heal, just as fig leaves will never have the power to truly cover.

Simply put:

Religion: fig leaves

Relationship: vulnerability

Many different things can serve as fig leaves (this is not an exhaustive list):

Image
Personalities
Positions
Reputation
Religion
Philosophy
Intelligence
Power
Resources

Many of us are not as confident as we think we are. We’ve placed our confidence in things that are not of substance.

If you are not one who makes yourself vulnerable, your confidence is false and will not stand. It may fool many, but it will fail when you seek the greater truth of vulnerability.

Be vulnerable.

Letting Go of Something Good

“Letting go” isn’t usually easy — especially for me. It doesn’t matter what it is. It’s much easier for me to let go of things I know I don’t need and don’t care about — but what about when it’s something I really care about?

This one’s for me.

“Letting go” isn’t usually easy — especially for me. It doesn’t matter what it is. I’m incredibly sentimental. My closet in my living room has been opened a total of 5 times since I’ve lived there (3 years)! I have yet to clear out its contents because I have some sort of sentimental attachment to those things (awards, memorabilia, etc.). Also, I’m pretty sure there are spiders in there and I’m not really built for that kind of battle.

It’s much easier for me to let go of things I know I don’t need and don’t care about — but what about when it’s something I really care about? What if I have to let go of something God has said is for me? What if I have to let of something that’s good for me? What if I have to let go of something I never expected to part with?

Well, that’s me right now. I won’t go into great detail; but I wanted to express some ideas that have been swarming through my mind.

  1. My trust cannot be in the good “thing’s” ability or likelihood of coming back. I must trust that if God needs me to have it, it will be God’s ability and responsibility to restore it.
  2. I have to consider that what’s good isn’t necessarily what’s best.
  3. When I give up something good, I have to realize that I’ll always win. If I give it up and cling to God, I’ve automatically won. Although, if I’m honest, I don’t always know what that looks like nor am I amped to cling to God in moments like these. Sometimes, I just want to stomp my feet, pout, and demand that God does things my way. This sort of reaction indicates a certain idolatry in my heart toward the thing(s) I let go of.
  4. Although it may be good for me, it may not be good for me right now.
  5. How secure am I in who God has said I am? Do I need this thing in order to feel secure, confident, worthy, etc? Nah.
  6. God will often draw you to Himself in moments of loss (of any proportion). This is almost always the highest purpose or result when loss occurs.
  7. There are no shortcuts for dealing with the pain. There are many seemingly worthy substitutes that make it easier to cope with the pain. They help soften the blow of the loss. However, if maturity is what you seek, you’ll know that eventually you will have to part with the temporary for the ultimate. You’ll have to embrace and face the pain head on.
  8. God is not cruel nor is He interested in making you suffer without purpose. In most cases, our suffering is not due to God bringing some judgment. It’s often due to our poor decisions, decisions of others around us, or attacks from the enemy (Satan).

While God does not cause much of our pain, He will use it for our good. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

All things — suffering, work together for my good.

All things — loss, work together for my good.

All things — obscurity, work together for my good.

All things — rejection, work together for my good.

All things — (fill in the blank), work together for my good.

It is important when you are walking (sometimes crawling) through a season of loss to watch where you put your focus. Social media is a trap I’ve found myself falling into many of times.

Scrolling through highlight reels of the lives of those around me serves as a constant reminder of what I’ve lost or doubt I’ll ever have. Eyes up. Meditating on what was and being worried about what will be — eyes up. Getting stuck in grief, bitterness, self-hatred, frustration with God — eyes up.

God will always be the remedy for what we’ve lost.

He can be trusted. Let this verse permeate your heart in this time:

“The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3).

 

The Law and Grace: Not What You Think

There are some things we believe because they’re true. Then, there are things we believe because we’d prefer to believe them. This is proof that we take our perceptions of God into conversations like these and refuse to expand our view of Him.

When you hear “The Law” mentioned in Christendom and Judaism, people are referring to the sum of about 600+ laws given by God through Moses to the people of Israel. God gave them numerous laws, rituals, and regulations, meant to keep them pure and holy.

Many have created resources that attempt to provide understanding of the functionality of the Law and Grace in our lives as believers today. It is a point of great spiritual and doctrinal controversy.

Some believe we ought to still keep the law as strictly as the Israelites of old. Some postulate that because of the Messiah’s sacrifice, we are no longer under law, but under grace; and are free from the requirements of the Law.

What makes these conversations so difficult to process is because of the various verses that speak to how the Law and Grace operate in our lives today. It can be difficult to interpret them.

One of our biggest obstacles for understanding Law vs. Grace is our desire to believe a specific thing. Some WANT to believe we have to follow the Law in the specific way in which the Israelites did. Some WANT to believe that GOD’S grace cancels the Law.

For some, following the Law seems to be too oppressive and it doesn’t sound like God to them. For others, Grace seems to offer more freedom than they could fathom God giving.

This is proof that we take our perceptions of God into conversations like these and refuse to expand our view of Him.

No matter where you fall on the proverbial spectrum of this idea, choose to lay down your preconceived notions to perceive God in a new way. Allow God to reveal Himself afresh to you. There are some things we believe because they’re true. Then, there are things we believe because we’d prefer to believe them.

It’s dangerous to get to a place in which God doesn’t surprise you anymore–or God agreeing with EVERYTHING you do, say, or think. At that point, I’d begin to question whether or not it’s God you serve–but you.

I’ve been craving depth in my relationship with the Most High and understanding of who He is. I’ve prepared myself to think and live differently depending on what He reveals about Himself, me, and others.

I don’t want to believe what I believe because it’s comfortable for me. I want to believe what He says is true. Sometimes, that will put me in a position to look foolish to the world and that’s okay; because I’m not living for them.

I live for God in hopes that others would see and know Him. But He is my Authenticator, my Refuge, my Father, my Friend, my Savior, my Deliverer, my Judge, my Answer, my Everything.

My prayer is that if you’ve made it to the end of this post that you receive the blessed opportunity of knowing Him.

You can pray this prayer below and continue on a journey of knowing Him. Once you pray this prayer in belief and faith, there are some things that will automatically change. You may not feel it, but it has.

There are other things that will require a journey of becoming in relationship with Most High (God). Have faith and be encouraged.

Most High,

Thank You for revealing Yourself to me. I believe what you’ve shown me. I believe that You sent Your Son to Earth to die to reconcile me to You. I believe He resurrected in victory over sin and death — the very things that separated me from having relationship with You. I have faith and believe that You are the one true God. Thank You for saving me. I ask that You continue to show me who You are and teach me Your ways. My heart will never be separated from You. I ask that You connect me with people who will help me grow in my relationship with You and knowledge of You. Thank You for loving me.

In Your Son’s Name,
Amen.

Scriptures to study: (the whole Bible…but here’s a few to get started)

  1. John 1-3
  2. Romans 6-8
  3. Genesis 1-3

In the World, But Not of It: Reverence Over Relevance

I found the reason I was trying to be “relevant” was not because I wanted people to accept God, but I wanted people to accept me.

Disclaimer: This is for the Christians. It is not to be used as ammunition toward any specific Christian, church, or denomination; nor has it been written motivated by the actions of any specific person, church, or denomination.

Instead, I’m writing because of something I’ve periodically observed in myself. I believe it’s something many Christians might observe in themselves if they’d search; this desire to be relevant. This is not specific to Christians, but that’s what we’ll deal with today.

Relevance in and of itself is not evil; but the desire for it must be qualified. Why do we want to be relevant? What does relevance look like in the life of the believer? Does it mean I can’t be fun anymore? How do I serve God without being out of touch with “reality?” To whom do we want to be relevant?

These are all important questions and our answers to them reveal something about the posture of our heart toward God and the things of God. So, let’s dive in.

First, I want to deal with two different perspectives we may observe in the Church (the Body of Christ, followers of Christ) concerning relevance. People often swing to one extreme of the spectrum or the other.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “in the world, but not of it?” Yes? Well, this is an understanding of several verses in the Bible; though it is not a verse itself. Basically, it means even though we exist in this world, we are not of the same nature of the world. There is a culture and citizenship we possess that supersedes that which we experience here. We (children of God) are of a different world which is unseen. Below are some of the verses which compile this theological idea of ‘in the world, but not of it.’

John 15: 19
“If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.”

1 John 2:15
“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.”

John 16:33
“These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Mark 4:19
“…and the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things entering in choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.”

The First Extreme

Some interpret these verses to mean we can’t do anything that appears even remotely secular‘– which means ‘worldly.’ For example, some believe we can’t have any sort of relationship with those who aren’t believers–not even any association. Granted, a believer must be wise and discerning when pursuing intimate relationships with unbelievers.

However, there is a difference between being separate and being separate. What? The kind of separation required of believers is one that distinguishes. It is not to isolate or quarantine our faith but to live separate to GOD. Being separate to GOD means we seek to become what GOD desires for us to become.

This was a common issue the Messiah encountered while He walked this Earth. He was constantly brought under scrutiny for spending time with sinners and the ‘unclean’ of society. This didn’t line up with the idea the religious leaders of that time had about being separated or holy.

In one account, the Messiah is eating dinner with tax collectors (oftentimes manipulative con men) and other sinners. One of the ruling religious groups in Israel at the time, the Pharisees, reasoned among themselves and concluded that He was unclean because of this.

You can find some accounts of this encounter here: Matthew 9:10-17, Mark 2:13-17, and Luke 5:27-31.

Believers, we do ourselves and the world a disservice by segregating (isolating) ourselves and the truth we know. Be careful not to build and sustain cozy environments that only welcome those who agree with you (even specifically those of the same faith as you). In response to His being questioned about His interaction with sinners, the Messiah responded, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 32 I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance (Luke 5:31-31).”

This inclination to isolate in comfortability without challenge hardens the heart of the believer and allows religion to calcify our minds. This causes us to lose sight of the call of EVERY believer–that is reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:11-21). We are called to reconcile people to GOD. This cannot be done if we’re walled up physically or spiritually within four walls of a quaint church that make us feel comfortable, secure, and unchallenged.

There are people who are falling away daily and many more who have not heard the truth and love expressed in the Gospel of the kingdom of GOD. If we’re honest, in our hearts, there is often fostered this culture of ‘staying’ — of finding a safe, comfortable place and resting there; comfortable in our religion. Our call was never to stay, but to ‘go.’ (Matthew 28:18-20) That doesn’t mean everyone is going to live the life of a traveling missionary or what have you. It does mean that we have to come outside of ourselves to reach the lost and those who have fallen away wherever we find ourselves.

The Second Extreme

The other extreme of the spectrum typically involves this need to prove likeness. “I’m just like you.” “We’re the same!” “I like that kind of music too.” Have you ever met a believer who is always trying to convince people to follow Christ or accept them by proving believers aren’t that different from everyone else? Better yet, have you ever been that believer? I know I have.

It didn’t happen overnight though. I’ve always been very vocal about my faith and the importance thereof. However, over the years, I saw a gradual change. I started wanting to compel people to come to Christ by convincing them that things wouldn’t change much or that I was still like the ‘Darveiye’ I was before.

This is problematic because I was compelling people based on a lie. I’m not just like you. We’re not the same. We may seem incredibly similar on the surface, but there is an inner change that differentiates us. It doesn’t mean I’m better, it means I’m renewed. It means I’m saved. It means I’m redeemed. It means my mind has been changed. It means some things will not and cannot stay the same. It means I have a new nature. I may be “in the world, but I’m not of it.”

I found the reason I was trying to be “relevant” was not because I wanted people to accept God, but I wanted people to accept me. I’d spent so much of my life being rejected and bullied for my interests, my looks, my faith that I found I started to work hard to prove I was normal. However, the reality of the life of a child of God is that you will not be accepted by the world and you are not normal. It’s not something that “gets better” or changes with time.

If there comes a point at which I am completely embraced by the world or indistinguishable from it, I’ve ceased being separated. I may find I’ve begun to seek relevance from the world compromising my reverence for God — which is the result of seeking relevance.

For you cannot completely love and embrace God and still look like, think like, and live like the world. You will hate one or love the other. “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other (Matthew 6:24a).”

This dynamic isn’t often easily detected. Sometimes, we’re still doing all of the things we usually do (go to church, read the Bible, talk about God) but will find our hearts are far from God in the process. This is why checking your heart is so important. Always ask, “why am I doing what I’m doing?” “Why am I saying what I’m saying?” “Am I trying to get people to accept me or accept God?” “Am I cutting myself off from the people who need to hear about the God I know?” “Am I discerning or am I just judging people?”

We often treat this walk with Christ as a one size fits all. Granted, there are elements that are one-size-fits-all (salvation, loved by God, call to reconciliation, and many others). However, we have these misguided ideas of exactly what it should look like and get lost in trying to look like that (clothes we wear, how we talk, going to church, reading the Bible, being kind to people, etc) and forget to check if our hearts are truly one with God’s heart.

To sum all of this up, choose reverence over relevance.

Be sensible. Be fools.

Over and out.