The typical road to and out of the church looks like this:
- You’re born and discover your parents are church going people.
- You follow your parents; they sell you a beautiful picture of sweet, sweet love and you buy it
- You get older and start to think on your own
- you slowly discover that lots of teachings in your church are built on an advanced bullshit
- you leave the church and get kind of angry
- you start writing all around the internet that a church, the Bible, Jesus, Christianity and God are just a pile of huge bullshit and advice everyone to find sweet, sweet love elsewhere
It has become popular these days to walk this road. And no wonder, teachings of most of the churches is in fact built on bullshit.
Oh yes, I know it. From the inside. Been there, seen that. It’s even worse than you think. Quarter of the century of experience tells me this: most of the church members are hypocrites who only play Christians. Most of them are nice enough and quite honest, but they wouldn’t recognise Jesus if he stood two feet away.
Still, that process of getting disappointed with a church is based on a false idea.
People assume that a church that claims to be Christian is full of Christians and that its teachings are more or less teaching of Christ. It’s easy to assume that, but in reality there is only a small bunch of people who are Christians. For everybody else a church is a form of a game, a theater, a club. The point is to be generally nice to everyone and keep the appearances.
But moral behavior is not Christianity yet. Far from it. Was Jesus famous for his exemplary behavior, political correctness, and general politeness? Not at all.
He writes about seven problems that killed his faith. Now I was really surprised to read it. All seven apply to a church and it’s people, but none of them apply to followers of Jesus.
1. Guidance of the Holy Spirit
The problem: if Holy Spirit really worked, there wouldn’t be so many churches. People would just listen to the Holy Spirit and he would tell everybody the same thing. There would be one church and all would be in agreement.
You think? Well, maybe. But I have an even better idea: how about God shows himself on the sky, makes a clearly visible miracle every day and tells everyone “and now you love me”.
If the goal is to make people buy God and his love by any means, it would certainly work. Just keep screaming, advertizing and bribing your consumers. But would anybody have any real choice then?
But the most important thing is to realize that Holy Spirit guides those who follow Christ. A Christian, by definition, is a follower of Christ, not a member of a church. Since there are so very few Christians in churches, no wonder there is no guidance.
The author probably never met a Christian before, so he can’t tell the difference between following a person and following rules. But those who follow the pastor and his guidelines, usually do not care much of Holy Spirit and his guidance. It’s so much easier to listen to the pastor!
Pastor makes it easy for you, so you appreciate him. God makes it difficult, so you must learn.
2. Bondage to Sin
“Humans, by default, are powerless to do anything except sin. But with the saving power of Jesus, the sin bondage is broken. If this is true, shouldn’t Christians be far-and-away the most loving, joyful, peaceful, kind people on the planet?”
First, where did the idea that “people are powerless to do anything except sin” come from? It’s absurd. It’s certainly not in the Bible.
Second, excellent reasoning: Christians should be the most loving, joyful and peaceful people on the planet.
And guess what. They are!
Now I can be sure the author never met Christians before. He would know they in fact are exceptionally happy, free, careless, joyful people. They are different.
But there is also true, that people in churches in general are not the most loving, joyful, peaceful and happy. They are masters of pretending, but inside they are just like everyone else. Fear, worries, depression and all.
Realizing that fact should lead to an obvious conclusion: it’s not Jesus that doesn’t work, it’s church that doesn’t work.
Demos Shakarian once wrote a book “The Happiest People on Earth”. It’s a good story, real life story. I recommend it. Read it, you will see what real Christians think like and what they do.
3. The Corruption of Humanity
“A compassionate and empathetic creator would set its creation up for success. God in this story is either not loving, or not in control”.
I’m surprised how often people can’t stand that God allows things to happen. They would clearly enjoy a tyrant who is also a wizard and magically forces people to love each other and makes everyone successful.
There is a lot I have to say on this topic. But right now I will only say this one thing: grow up!
Life is not about success! And if you claim you know how to take care of your creation, raise your children. Make them happy and rich, but not spoiled. Keep them well fed, but not fat. Keep them free, but no stupid. Comfortable, but not lazy. Can you do it they way you want God to do it?
When you’ve done it successfully, tell us all how you did it and how easy it was. I’m sure we’ll all vote for you to be our next God.
But until it happens, let’s just try to be adults here and accept the fast, that dealing with the reality is not the same as playing with your imagination. It’s not that simple. If you can’t see, well, maybe you should leave your right, comfortable house in rich, comfortable country, learn a new language or two and move you ass and explore the world.
I did. And I’m telling you: life is not simple at all. Only a child can assume there is an easy solution to make everyone free, happy and successful.
It’s easy enough though, to create a prison and control robots. That version on universe is possible, I’m sure.
But as for me, I’m glad that God of this universe didn’t go this way. He respects your free will and your independence.
The problem: why should choosing against God result in eternal torture?
I don’t know what nonsenses churches preach these days, but the Bible says something else. Nobody goes to hell just because he chose not to love God! A man is punishment for he did. The idea of justice is really simple and it has never changed in the Bible.
So if you’ve never done anything that deserves punishment in your life, you’re perfectly safe. You have nothing to worry about. Forget hell, it’s not for you.
But if you did stuff that you’re not very proud of, if you ignored people you could help with your resources, you better stop thinking about God’s problems and think about yours. Was your life so incredibly full of goodness, love and sacrifice that all that you have left to think about is God’s way of organizing eternal judgment? Lucky man.
The Bible doesn’t say much about hell. Jesus just kept saying there is a place of suffering (“gnashing of teeth”) for people who deserve to be condemned. It will not be a pleasant place, whatever it is. We don’t know any details.
The imporant things is that in all those stories of punishment the Bible is clear: God is always just and punishes people for real things. For what they did or didn’t do. Not for virtual ideas, thoughts or choices, like “not choosing God’s love”. What does that even mean, for goodness sake?
And if hell was a real threat, wouldn’t it be reasonable to find a way to avoid it? Do you think something doesn’t exist just because you don’t like it? I tried it once with diharreah. It didn’t work.
The question here is not “do you like the idea of hell”. Who cares. The real question is: “does hell exist”. Try to focus on that.
I agree with this sentence though:
“Hell does make perfect sense in the context of using fear to manipulate people and keep them obedient”.
Well, there’s a church for you. Fearmongering is a fundation of a church.
So I’m glad you left it. But please, don’t confuse it with Bible, God or Jesus. It’s not that simple.
5. God’s Answers to Prayer
“Why do Christians worry about losing their jobs if they can pray to the God of the universe for food and shelter, trusting that he will provide? If God’s provision is as guaranteed as the Bible says it is, they should have realized long ago that he always comes through.”
This question is valid. But the answer is simple:
Why? Because they are not Christians!
I do not worry. I did realize long ago that God always comes through. And so does each one of my christian friends. I don’t know Christians who worry about it. Unless they are very fresh Christians and still learn to deal with basics.
Besides, what sort of problem it is “loosing a job”?
Right now there are 250 million Christians that are persecuted for their beliefs in the world. So losing your life in some poor country in Asia might be a reason to worry about. And you say you’re a Christian, you live in a rich, civilized western country and you worry about loosing your job? How pathetic are you?
Cowards will not enter Kingdom of God. Isn’t it what literally Bible says? Trusting God to work in real, every day life is a very foundation of being a Christian.
6. Draw Near to God and He Will Draw Near to You
“why is it, then, that so many Christians like myself never felt any real presence of God, despite years of authentic devotion and honest attempts to open up to his love”.
I have no idea. I don’t really know you.
But usually in those cases the answers goes something like this: because you did nothing. Your Christianity was only a theory. It was all about you, rules and a church. All it really changed in your life was your behavior on Sunday.
If you want to become a Christian, here’s a real deal: Jesus is not going to be your servant, he is going to be your master. He will not give you attention, we will give you orders. And your task is not to be served, fed, loved and taken care of. Your task is to work. To do what you’re told.
Sounds like an army? Well, there is love, support, friendship and all those nice things. But fundamentally, it’s much more like an army than a kindergarten.
“Opening up to his love” is not a work. It’s whining of a spoiled kid for more attention. If you want God who is your personal Harry Potter and Santa Claus, do not be surprised if it doesn’t work.
It worked for me. And it worked from day one. It’s been working for the last 25 years, in four different countries, up and downs, failure and success.
But here’s why there’s been plenty of God in my life: my attitude was completely different. I worked.
When I was told to go and I went. When I wasn’t told to go, I was preparing for the next adventure. I learnt, trained and looked for opportunities to serve. They are not difficult to find. I worked for 15 years as an interpreter. Never been payed, but was happy about it. I’ve talked, taught, traveled, quit jobs, moved between town and countries. Often alone. I’ve done a lot of little things.
And I never had a problem with “never felt any real presence”. If anything, I had too much of that presence. At times God tends to push his servant to do things they don’t really want to do. That’s a big life problem of a Christian to deal with. Not enough of God’s presence is not a problem.
You’re honest and it’s always a good thing. But you don’t talk like a servant. You talk like a child.
Do not think of yourself “I am a Christian” only because you’ve agreed to accept some gifts from God. Consuming is no serving. And Jesus of the Bible has always been looking disciples, never for customers. Think about it.
7. Anyone Who Leaves the Faith was Never a Christian
The problem: well, all that I just wrote above.
Answer: this one slightly more complicated, so let’s me explain.
It is common for ex-members to leave churches these days. They get disappointed by the Christian experience and they go away. The pastor then says: “this man has never been a christian in the first place”.
Is he right?
Well, yes and no.
The pastor is probably right, because the escaping man was something else. He was a consumer of God’s love, not a slave of Jesus. The pastor is probably not the slave either. And neither is the rest of his church.
But it’s also true that the man who leaves a church honestly believed in something! He was dedicated and joined the club of consumers with all his honesty. So it is not fair to say “he never believed”. It’s a plain lie. He believed what he thought was right.
The pastor has to say things like that to keep his sheep in under control. To keep the illusion that Christianity for Consumers is solid and it works.
Well, it’s doesn’t. And I’m glad there are people out there who realize it and leave the game to write about it.
The only problem is they insist on calling the game “Christianity”. And the consumers who grow fat under power of almighty pastors, are still being called “Christians”. Would you stop already?
Just look at those scared guys with masks on their faces doing everything they’re told behind locked doors. Isn’t it obvious that real Jesus has nothing to do with those poor, miserable cowards?
The real problem is this: how can an honest man find real Jesus in this mess?
Honestly, I don’t know.
The history shows it’s never been easy. The mainstream version of “Christianity” was always a distorted version of a real thing. These days it is an ideology of consuming “love”, aimed at people obsessed with their own asses. People who approach God from the position of a hungry baby who keeps screaming “feed me, feed me, feed me!” And when he cannot get what he wants, he gets angry and looks for a better offer elsewhere.
The pastors use that mindset to sell stories, keep people satisfied in their egoism and keep their mindless sheep under control. And so it goes. Everybody got what he wanted.
Well, good luck with that. But I highly doubt the real God will be present in any of that. The entire thing is obscene.
No wonder Jesus said once:
“Enter in by the narrow gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leads to destruction, and many are they that enter in thereby. For narrow is the gate, and straitened the way, that leads unto life, and few are they that find it”.
It seems he was right.
The good side is that the narrow gate still exists. And the small path is still there. And the servants of Jesus still live among us, although the more West you go the more difficult to find they are. And God still is quite real and everyone brave enough to go against the current will get his part of the experience.
But have no doubt: it’s not a road for cowards, babies, consumers or idlers. You want to find it? Take some effort.