Someone once asked me how I could continue to endorse, by silence, religious meetings that go on in the name of the Lord. He mentioned the fact that in the Gospel of John, Jesus virtually began His ministry by cleansing the temple, not ending with it.
Well, I don’t know the exact number of those who have already dropped out of religion (with a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ), but my impression is it’s enormous. Perhaps even greater than those who continue to go to meetings! Add to this number those turned off by what we, as believers, have done with Jesus. Then try to add those still going to meetings, but who haven’t yet come into their inheritance because the “gate keepers” want to keep them in religion, rather than life.
What does this number total up to? It seems to me there’s not many left for me to offend—if I was even called to offend!
That’s my brief summary of the multitudes. And it’s pretty hard to get very passionate about the multitude. Jesus did at times, but for me, I have to have a very uncommon anointing, or someone to share with in this connection, to be in a place by the Spirit where I am moved by a multitude.
But what I am moved by, much more often, is by individuals who I love, being hurt, trivialized, trashed, shelved, or deceived by the religious system. It is very common for the Spirit to bring me to a very emotional, and very passionate place about this.
I recently went to a conference for believers who meet in house groups. It was a wonderful time, but robbed somewhat by religious factions. That served to make it even more clear to me: the issue is not where we are meeting in a physical sense, but where we are meeting in a Spiritual sense. “…Not in that mountain, house, or church building, but in Spirit and in Truth.”
From my paraphrase of what Jesus said to the woman at the well, it is past time that we go up to God’s place, not the place our flesh finds comfortable or familiar.
With some people I can speak candidly about this; others I cannot. But I will say it nonetheless. Big meetings and pixie dust is not what we need. God’s “Church” is relational, not institutional. It should be passionate, like Christ was/is passionate, about a spiritual reproduction that raises and nurtures babies in a spiritual family. It should not be passionate, as the devil was/is passionate, about a carnal reproduction that raises and nurtures multitudes who support the religious institution!
The saints are being worn out with meetings, conferences, training programs, schools of ministries, seminaries, seminars, crusades, camp meetings, prayer meetings, ministries, and all such other spin-offs. Where is the impassioned, fruitful, reproductive life that Jesus came to bring? I’ll tell you where it is: it lies in ruins, both in, and outside the gate. Why? Because life empowered by Jesus has always been bad for the business of religion.
On a positive note. Relationships in the Lord are awesome and fruitful! They cost a lot, but Jesus warned us about the cost going in. And they are really all that is worth being passionate about.
“You will not have to be in Jerusalem or on this mountain to worship the Father… God is a Spirit (a spiritual Being) and those who worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth (reality)” (John 4:21,24).
Written in August 2000 by Jay Ferris. To read more of his messages go to: Lovinglikegod.com