"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." John 10:10

Monday, March 31, 2014

Organized Religion

Do you hate organized religion like I do? I know, this is really strange to hear from an ordained minister. But, truth be told, I despise organized religion. On the other hand, I love the liturgy and the personal walk with Jesus. We will come back to that. I remember being struck by church lady syndrome at this time. You know what I mean, the "I am holier than thou" behavior, until the service was concluded and they all race either downstairs to get in line for the best donuts and shove other people aside and then sit with only certain people and speak poorly about others, or they race outside to get into their cars and start to cut each other off so they can get home fifteen seconds faster. I couldn’t help but think that they must not have been paying attention to John 13:34, when Jesus told the disciples "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another." I never quite saw that as loving. But, what do I know?

The church is filled with sinners. As Jesus said in Mark 2:17; "I've come to call sinners, not people who think they have God's approval." In fact, every one of us, myself included, is a sinner. The most frequently used Greek word used by Jesus to express sin is Hamartia. Hamartia means to miss the mark. We are always missing what Jesus wants from us. Yet, he still loves us and wants us to come to him. There is nothing you can do that Jesus won’t forgive you for as long as you ask him for forgiveness. Jesus tells us in John 12:47, “I did not come to judge the world, but to save the world."

I know, nobody likes Jesus’ fan club. They have earned the disdain. Many of them in their current state of sinfulness, is incapable of loving in the way that Jesus wants us to love. But, the most important of the church’s is our own home. God, from the beginning, has always wanted us to worship Him first with our family. As Moses taught us in Deuteronomy 11:18,19; "Remember these commandments…teach them to your children.” Home and family is the first place we learn of love. Home is our safe haven, though, because many have turned from God and embraced selfishness, they have destroyed their safety. They have destroyed their homes.

Building a home is a daily operation. We build our homes through love, respect, and thanksgiving. We build our homes by loving our Creator, loving our spouse, and loving our children. We build our homes by respecting the hard work our spouse does for us. Whether, that is getting up in the morning, getting the kids ready for school, getting our meals prepared, cleaning the house, good grades, cleaning their bedrooms or going to work. We must respect the activities that our loved ones do for the sustaining of our lives and our home. Finally, we build our homes by expressing our appreciation to our family members for the activities they have performed and by expressing our appreciation to God for providing this family with life, employment, food, and health. You do not need to go to church to be a church. A church is a community. The first and most important community of any society, is our family.

If you have fallen away from or have never known Jesus, then start by saying a prayer in the morning together as a family. There is no right or wrong way to pray. Just speak what is in your heart and express it to God. If you need some ideas, here are a few ideas. "Dear God, thank you for giving us life together. Thank you for giving us employment. Thank you for giving us our children. Please watch over my family while they are out in the world today. Keep them safe from harm. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen." Then, at meals, say a prayer, thanking God for provding meals to you." Dear God, thank you for providing us with this wonderful meal that my wife made for us tonight or that somebody else made for us. Thank you for providing us the funds to be able to pay for this. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen." At night, say a prayer together before bed. "Dear God, thank you for a wonderful day. Thank you for allowing us to be together tonight. Watch over us tonight and keep us from harm so we can be together again in the morning. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.” You can begin to add to this over time by studying the Bible together as a family. Do one section a night before bed for story time. You can find wonderful books for children of all ages. As head of the household, begin reading the Holy Bible before you go to bed. Begin with one section per night. You can complete the whole Bible in three years by that practice.

The liturgy is so beautiful and comforting. You can learn so much from organized religion. You can sit with bishops, priests, deacons, and friars, and monks to learn about having a personal and intimate walk with God. I hope that some day you can find comfort in that at a church. When I left the church, I did not come back for 20 years. I studied other religions all over the world seeking to find a true relationship with our Creator. I found that only in Christ. So, if you are having trouble with organized religion. That is great. God wants you to seek. As Jesus taught us in Matthew 7:7; "Seek and you will find." Just keep an open mind and Jesus will reveal himself to you over time just as he did to me.

God bless,
Friar Tuck

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