Churchianity vs. Christianity (Part 1)

45 Then, with the crowds listening, He turned to His disciples and said, 46 “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. 47 Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.” 

While Jesus was in the Temple, He watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. 2 Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.

3 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. 4 For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”

~ Luke 20:45-47 & Luke 21:1-4 — NLT ~

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Warning! Many readers may find the following post offensive as it goes against much of what many of us have been taught to believe. I make no apologies for this post, as I am staying true to the Word of God. And though it goes against what most of us have learned in the church, it is truth, and therefore, it must be shared.

31 Jesus said to the people who believed in Him, “You are truly My disciples if you remain faithful to My teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

~ John 8:31-32 — NLT ~

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So, my friends, are you ready for some truth? Did you know that there is such a thing as “churchianity”, and that “churchianity” is much different than Christianity? Did you know that according to Wickepedia’s “Religion in the United States”, 73%-80% of Americans claim to be Christian? Now, I don’t like to be a harbinger of bad news, but the fact is that although many claim to be Christians, the truth is that there are fewer Christians than non-Christians — but don’t take my word for it. Look at what Jesus… Messiah… Son of God… the Christ… founder of Christianity, had to say about the subject.

13 “You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way. 14 But the gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it.”

~ Matthew 7:13-14 — NLT ~

21 “Not everyone who calls out to Me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of My Father in heaven will enter. 22 On judgment day many will say to Me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in Your name and cast out demons in Your name and performed many miracles in Your name.’ 23 But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from Me, you who break God’s laws.’

~ Matthew 7:21-23 — NLT ~

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So, beloved readers, as you can see from these scriptures, many who claim to be Christians don’t even know Jesus, and this includes many in the church. Now, armed with this knowledge, you have to begin to wonder, how much of what we have been taught to believe is what Jesus taught, and how much of it is simply the teachings of those who cast out demons in His name and perform miracles in His name, but in reality, they never even knew Him?  And how can we — you and I — know the difference?

It starts in your heart. Do you know Jesus? I don’t mean do you know Him like you know President Obama, meaning that you know about Him or that you might recognize Him if you saw Him on the street. I mean — do you know Him?

Let me explain it this way… In April, my husband and I will celebrate our 33rd wedding anniversary. I’ve lived intimately with that man for so long now that I know him inside and out. Yes, there are times when his response to something will surprise me, but for the most part, I know what he thinks about different subjects without him saying a word. I know what makes him angry and exactly what buttons to push if I want to get a rise out of him. I know how to make him smile, and I know how to make him laugh out loud. Sometimes, when he looks at me from across the room, though he doesn’t even say a word, I hear him saying, “I love you, Sweetie.” You see, after 33 years of intimacy, I know my husband.

intimacy-with-God-300x255This is how God longs for us to know Him. It is how He longs for us to know His only Son, Jesus, and how He wants us to know His Spirit. The only way we can know Him like this is to spend time with Him, by talking to Him, and by being still in His presence and waiting, listening for Him to speak to us. The only way we can know Him is to read His word, because though He spoke those words thousands of years ago, to many different writers, His word is living and active, and it still speaks to us today.

For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.

~ Hebrews 4:12 — NLT ~

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Are we good so far? I haven’t said anything too offensive yet, have I? You see, before I can get to the meat of this subject, I had to lay the foundation first. For a large number of people in the church and out of it have deluded themselves into believing that being a Christian is nothing more than membership into the “right” church. Sadly, for most, church has become nothing more than being a part of the right club… Just as you have the Lion’s Club, the Moose Lodge, the Elk’s Lodge, the VFW, the Exchange Club, the Masonic Lodge and so many more exclusive clubs, so you also have your choice of the Methodist Church, the Baptist Church, the Presbyterian Church, the Pentecostal Church, the Holiness Church, the Apostolic Church, the Church of the Brethren, the Church of Christ, the Berean Church, the Roman Catholic Church and so many other churches to choose from.

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And, just as the various clubs have different bylaws to follow, so also, the different churches have different rules and regulations for their members to follow…. For instance, some baptize by sprinkling water on the member, some baptize by pouring water on the member and others baptize by immersion. Some claim that you cannot be saved unless you are baptized, while others claim that baptism is merely an outward symbol of an inward change and that salvation can be had with our without baptism.

Some churches believe that when partaking of communion, you must only use unleavened bread, while others believe that only wafers will do, and still others believe that a whole loaf of bread should be passed around. Still other churches believe that you should only drink wine when taking communion, while others believe that to drink wine is sinful and only grape juice will do.

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There are some churches that believe that when you partake in communion, it is symbolic of the body and blood of Jesus that was shed for us on the Cross, while there are still other churches who believe that the bread and the wine actually become the body and blood of Christ when you partake of it.

So, my question is, with so many differing rules and regulations, which is right and which is wrong, and how can I know the difference? Am I practicing Christianity? Or am I practicing churchianity? Let’s begin by looking at the following scripture passage.

45 Then, with the crowds listening, He turned to His disciples and said, 46 “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. 47 Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.”

While Jesus was in the Temple, He watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. 2 Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins.

3 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. 4 For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”

~ Luke 20:45-47 & 21:1-4 — NLT ~

Let’s begin to look at this passage bit by bit, starting at the beginning. The first thing to note is who was speaking, what they were talking about, when this happened, and where this took place…

One day as Jesus was teaching the people and preaching the Good News in the Temple, the leading priests, the teachers of religious law, and the elders came up to Him.

~ Luke 20:1 — NLT ~

Who was speaking — Jesus 
What was He talking about — He was teaching the people and preaching the Good News 
When did this happen — One day 
Where did this take place — In the Temple

Now, one important thing to notice is that the passage I am writing about, as well as everything else that happened in both chapters, is that it all took place on this “One day“. Right before Jesus warned the people to beware of these teachers of religious law, they had already tried to trap Him several times. I encourage you to read both Luke 20 and Luke 21 in their entirety, to get a clear picture of what was going on, when Jesus spoke to the people.  Also, as you read these 2 chapters, keep in mind that when Luke wrote this book, he wrote it as a personal account to a man named Theolophilus, and there were no chapters and verses when he wrote it. Therefore, Luke 20 and Luke 21  both flowed together as a part of what happened “One day“.

With this in mind, we see Jesus addressing the people after the priests and the elders had come, challenging His authority, followed by the teachers of religious law (scribes and Pharisees) and their spies, who tried to trap Him into saying something against the Roman government so they could have Him arrested, then followed by the Sadducees (who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead), who tried to ensnare Jesus with a question about the resurrection. Boldly addressing each one of their attempted ruses, Jesus displayed both His wisdom and His authority, as He turned His focus on His disciples, warning them.

46 “Beware of these teachers of religious law! For they like to parade around in flowing robes and love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces. And how they love the seats of honor in the synagogues and the head table at banquets. 47 Yet they shamelessly cheat widows out of their property and then pretend to be pious by making long prayers in public. Because of this, they will be severely punished.”

~ Luke 20:46-47 — NLT ~

Jesus warned His disciples to watch out for the teachers of religious law. Back then, the teachers of religious law were the priests and elders, the scribes, the Pharisees and the Saducees. Today, it could mean pastors, priests, bishops, elders, prophets, evangelists and televangelists, cardinals, popes and many other religious leaders. And how can you recognize those leaders that Jesus is talking about? He made it real easy for us to recognize them. They are the ones who like to parade around in flowing robes and receive respectful greetings when they walk in the marketplace.

Think about some of those who love to preach in their flowing, lavish robes. Oh, they claim that they are their “priestly garments,” and that it is biblical, but is it really? (I warned you that I was going to offend some people and challenge your beliefs.) Only the levitical priests were ordered by God to wear specific robes, and those robes were not man made designs, but according to God’s pattern. “But,” you might say, “These robes show my office… my calling… my status… I am a royal priest…” Perhaps, but isn’t the same true of every Christian?

 But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for He called you out of the darkness into His wonderful light.

~ 1 Peter 2:9 — NLT ~

I’ve been told that I need to purchase a robe, so that when I preach the Word of God, I will look the part. Really? When Jesus, the Son of God preached the Good News, He didn’t have a special robe to wear. In fact, as we see here, He even spoke out against it. So I ask you, are those who wear these robes and demand that others wear them as well practicing Christianity or “churchianity”?

Before you get too angry with me, please note that I’m not saying that some of these people aren’t genuine Christians. Many are, but they, like all of us, have been misled about many things in the church. It’s time for Christians to wake up and begin practicing Christianity as Jesus taught us, and not the “churchianity” that the church has taught so many of us.

10 Carefully determine what pleases the Lord. 11 Take no part in the worthless deeds of evil and darkness; instead, expose them. 12 It is shameful even to talk about the things that ungodly people do in secret. 13 But their evil intentions will be exposed when the light shines on them, 14 for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said,

“Awake, O sleeper,
    rise up from the dead,
    and Christ will give you light.”

~ Ephesians 5:10-14 — NLT ~

So,  we see Jesus warning His disciples not to parade around in flowing robes like the scribes and Pharisees, so they can receive resectful greetings from people in the marketplace. How many preachers, evangelists and televangelists revel in the respectful adoration they receive from their followers, who dare not call them by name, but are instead required to address them as “Pastor… Prophet… Evangelist… Minister…?” 

Far too many times, I’ve seen various ministers followed by an entourage of servants, expecting them to carry their bibles for them, as well as water and something to wipe the sweat from their brow. Some even expect their servants — er – followers — to wipe the sweat for them. How is it that Christ’s ministers, who are called to be Christlike, expect others to serve them, when Jesus came to serve others? Doesn’t anyone else see something wrong with this picture? Look at Jesus’ instruction to His disciples…

42 So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. 43 But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, 44 and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. 45 For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many.”

~ Mark 10:42-45 — NLT ~

Now, my friends, if this was Jesus command to His disciples over 2000 years ago, and if He is the same, yesterday, today and forever, has this command changed? Of course not. Jesus calls us to serve, not to be served. He doesn’t want us dressing up in flowing robes, or the finest clothes,  so that people will admire our finery, as we lord it over them and preach. He doesn’t want us preaching to draw attention to ourselves, rather, all focus should be on God. And understand this, God isn’t impressed by our flowery language, flashy robes and the things that impress people. He looks at our heart, and it is the love and passion for Him and for His word that draws Him to us.

Therefore, beloved readers, let’s ask ourselves, are we practicing Christianity or “churchianity”? Do you love Jesus with all your heart, soul, mind and strength? Or do you love the attention you get when you stand before people, preaching and/or prophesying? Do you serve others? Or do you expect others to serve you? Do you follow Christ? Or do you follow those who walk around in their ostentacious robes, seeking the adulation of others? Do you follow those who expect you to serve them?

Beloved reader, I urge you to pray about the things that I’ve shared with you, and more importantly, see what God’s word says about them. Then, we’ll continue with part 2 of this series – Churchianity vs. Christianity.

© 2014
Cheryl Showers

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