Several months ago when I left the controlling church that I was in the one thing that was of foremost importance to me was to GET OUT. I knew that there was an urgency to get away from the manipulation and control. I knew that I had spent over a decade at that place not just making friends but being part of a family. It was a family within a family. A body of believers within the body of Christ. A family that the pastor of the church had no desire to actually be a part of other than to rule over and control. I was seeing the family I had come to love dearly being torn apart. Some were forced to leave and others left because they had come to the realization that to stay was spiritually dangerous. Those who left were shunned, and those who stayed were warned not to associate with them lest bad things happen to them. This was all orchestrated by what was supposed to be loving and Godly leadership. Those who stayed and chose to associate with those who left were looked down on by those who chose to shun. It broke my heart to see all the unkindness and dissension being shown. I watched the family that I had seen stand behind one another in good times and bad being scattered all over.
Many who left went to other churches, some have no desire to ever go to church again after what they have experienced and some have church at home. In the midst of what seemed to be a hopeless situation, however, I saw some who had "ought against his brother" go to each other and talk things out. I saw families restored, friendships restored, people prosper, peace flood their lives, and love flood their hearts. When I have seen them, many actually look years younger.
I have had to repent before God for giving His honor to a man. A man that demanded it, basked in it and taught that it belonged to him but a man none the less. I have realized that I should never given a man this place in my life. I was told he was qualified to occupy this place yet I have no one other than myself to blame for listening to this wrong teaching. AGAIN, I did not read my Bible. I have realized what a heavy burden it was to constantly struggle to live up to a false standard, and how debilitating it is to sit under false teaching.
A while back, I went to dinner with several others who had also left the church. It was such a time of refreshing. We were all so glad to see each other and so glad to be together without the shadow of control over us. It didn't matter that each of us went to different churches. We didn't have to hash out the mysteries of the deep things of God before we could enjoy each others company. There were no doctrinal agreement requirements for us to qualify to be together other than we all love Jesus. We didn't have to spend the entire time trying to convince each other that one knew all the truth. We didn't have to guard every aspect of out personalities for fear that something we said or did didn't line up with some rule being imposed over us. We just loved each other. We just enjoyed the company. Each of us knew we were just loved, not judged. How wonderful when the realization comes that we can just love and be loved for who we are. As I sat at the table and looked into the faces of these precious friends that God has placed in my life it brought tears to my eyes. It didn't matter if we all agreed on whether tongues were for today, if every or any "word from God" delivered by a man was real, if God wants us all to be rich or not, or what we should wear to church. What matters is that God put us in each others lives. He brought us together and gave us to each other to hold each other up, be there to encourage each other, pray for each other and desire the best for each other. I refuse to casually discard these treasures that I have in my life that will last for eternity like an old pair of shoes that have worn out their usefulness the way that some do.
Yet we all do agree on some things. We love God with all our hearts. We want to see others come to know His love. We want to see the hungry fed. We want to see broken hearts healed. We want people to see His love in us. We want to be His hands and His feet allowing Him to minister through us to those He gave His life for. We love each other and we are friends...real friends.
I was taught at my old church that "it is a matter of life and death where you go to church". Paul said that to live is Christ and to die is gain. I intend to LIVE! I am going to live for Him with all I have and I will never again let a man tell me how to do that.
My friends, I love you with all my heart. I treasure each and every one of you more than you will ever know. I thank God for you. You, along with my actual family are the greatest treasures in my life.
Your church or my church? Who cares. I am privileged to be a part of "His Church" along with you.