Our mental views of God shape our attitudes toward God. Misbeliefs about God hinder engaging with God to pursue spirituality. If you think there may be a God, I am convinced you will not regret pursuing more of a connection with your Creator than regretting having a closer relationship with your partner, children, or friends. In this series of Posts the Bible is referenced because that is from where views of God are often formed. What if you discovered God didn’t demand certain traditions such as church you must abide by to have a relationship?
- The Apostle Paul expressed concern to the Galatians that they were distorting the gospel that Jesus taught (1:6). They begin to insist all peoples follow their customs (2:17) and stressed special occasions as most important (4:10). Religions may try to control where and how people pray during the day. We may insinuate that people must attend a church if they are truly spiritual. Traditions can obscure what is really important.
- The Bible never speaks of church as a place to attend. Individuals were called the church and encouraged to care for others as themselves. The church doesn’t go to church. We can be seduced into thinking that attending church is all that matters and not how I treat others the rest of the days not spent in church. Traditions forced can lead to thinking that God only loves me if I honor certain customs. God, like any loving parent, love their children even if they act immoral. Loving parents simply encourage children to make for a better world.
- People may form their views of God by observing and assuming churchgoers are God’s representatives. The world often seems better off with churches because whether Catholic, Protestant, or Jewish, places of worship teach Jesus’ main message of treating others like you want to be treated. The church can be a place for people to organize to serve others in need. Some will admit though often the church gathers only to be with one another, thus isolating themselves from others in a world in need. Layers of structure can take money away from those who need it most. Groups outside the church can serve others but they aren’t claiming to represent God and adhere to a set of beliefs other than obvious moral laws
- We must not assume church teachings or creeds necessarily represent God’s beliefs. The mere presence of so many religious and denominations suggest no one has the corner on truth. Such divisiveness can hurt God’s reputation. The presence of Denominations suggests followers do not believe the same thing or even get alone. Why would those possibly interested in hearing what we believe want to join us? Organized groups by nature develop structured beliefs but biblical interpretations are fallible. Individual beliefs typically only happen when “the church” meets wherever without an official structure.
- Jesus was a calm person in interactions with others but the religious, who claimed to represent God, got his dander up the most. Jesus was more of a spiritual than religious person. Religions tend to emphasize rules and obedience rather than a relationship and God’s unconditional love. It is a friendship with God, without fear, that best transforms followers to being the kind of unselfish person they deep down desire to be. It is very challenging for a church with an organized structure to encourage a relationship versus adherence which is simply another form of legalism.
Each person in their relationship with their Creator can decide which environments give the most encouragement. No one though needs a mediator between God and them such as a pastor or priest. The institution of church worked for me for years and continues to work for many, but people need to feel free than obligated to pursue God on their own terms. Obligatory relationships are seldom life transforming. Church is not always a place where genuine relationships are built. I certainly didn’t share my burdens openly in that meeting. Do not feel obligated or believe God thinks any less of you if decide to not attend the traditional church. Seek encouraging relationships anywhere. There doesn’t have to be structured leadership.