Church

There was a time when I did what I was told. Thought how I was I told to think. Judged how I was taught to judge.

I’m no longer that robot. 

Robot is a strong word. It’s negative. Cold. Programmed. Robots don’t have humanity. They conform and obey.

I felt like that for a while at church.

It’s not that I don’t love the people at church. They’re some of the most mild, generous, helpful, loving people. I was recovering in a hospital once and no one really came to visit. It was my church people that did. Brought me flowers and food. To someone in a hospital bed, that’s all you need. Company. Knowing that people care enough to make the trip and show up.

But there’s a caveat. They love you, yes. Those at church love each other because they have Christ in common. It is the unspoken pact. The moment someone decides to leave the brotherhood – denounce Christ, go wayward, as they say, or just plain stop attending service due to exhaustion, the friendships seem to cease there.

It’s not that they don’t ‘love’ you anymore. It’s just not the same. The understanding and underlying oath of oneness is broken.

Building friendships that way has it’s curse. If you, like me, have spent some very formative years in a church setting, being pounded by the concepts of sin, salvation, Christ’s coming again, and that the world is an evil, fallen, broken place, your world view is very different than that of the secular person. It’s a view that’s based on love – yes – God is love. But it’s also one of fear, of being sinful, of feeling imperfect, of feeling incomplete, of despairing again and again for this world.

And…depending on your church community’s culture and fellowship’s (small group, tutor group etc) subculture, you can either

  1. be completely vulnerable and honest about your struggles with sex, porn, jealousy, drinking, wanting to pet your girlfriend/boyfriend, sexuality, gender, doubts about Christ, etc. – and subsequently receive the corrective treatment and prayer; or
  2. pretend that you are pure and dutiful and perfect; keep your questions at bay and your struggles private.

For the record, my church culture conforms with number 2.

You can salvage yourself from these harrowing thoughts of the world being beyond salvaging only by surrendering to God, day in, day out. Church teaches you that the moment you leave, you will die, spiritually. It’s said in the bible:

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 

To the layman, this is a death sentence. Remain in Christ, walk with him, else wither and die. There is no third option.

Christianity is based on free will. God grants salvation freely – all you need to do is accept His gift. But if the message is accept His grace, otherwise go to hell (quite literally…), then…is there really a choice?

That’s the biggest issue I struggle with the faith. The way I see it, the ‘choice’ is all form and no substance. The seasoned Christian will know, will feel that he is making the correct choice by following Christ, because he can then be certain about his salvation. Meanwhile, he will weep and pray for the unbelievers, because he knows that their denial of God’s grace will bind them to hell after this life.

Such is the blindness of this certainty that haunts me. How can one be so sure? They call it blind faith – it is precisely because of the lack of scientific evidence that faith is blind. Yet, how can one gamble their whole life and live it a certain way based on faith alone?

To the Christians out there, apologies in advance. By no means was this to attack you or your faith. It’s merely an honest question directed to a complex and wide-spread system of thought.

Do you have a church? Do you identify yourself with a religion? Is it something you happily conform to or do you have questions as well? 

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8 thoughts on “Church

  1. I feel like I’m something in-between, neither robotic nor human, but an amalgamation of the two. In keeping with the metaphor, I’m like a liberated Borg. The collective will always be a powerful lure, community family, friendship, and more can be difficult to resist. The problem is in the underlying principles of hierarchy, judgement, malevolence to sin, and procedure. The collective thought that by assimilating people (destroying their individual identities and connecting them to the one hive mind) they were bringing chaos to order, making everybody born again into a new world with a higher purpose. Most drones weren’t aware that they were destroying families or wiping out whole races. I’m separated from that collective, I wish to do no harm but I’m afraid people will always see the Borg in me and associate me with the Borg.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Liberated Borg – what a creative way to think about it. Why are you still a Borg? So it seems that you see church (or religion) as a collective that destroys communities, and that those following Christianity (or a religion) do not think for themselves?

      While I do see much good the church community carries out – charity, goodwill, setting up hospitals, schools, shelters – there is also the underlying structure that asks its attenders to obey and not question God’s love, God’s will, the bible, or teachings from pastors and leaders. I think any organisation where you cannot question authority ultimately brings trouble. I understand armies need that kind of unquestionable obedience. But it is precisely that kind of blind follow that leads humanity to disaster.

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  2. None of my family ever forced me to go to church and rarely did they attend. I had my first taste of bitter religious people when I moved to Utah. I meet a few mormon people while sick in in a hospital in Utah. They were friendly, kept me company, brought me food. I let them know that I was very appreciative of them but they were under no obligation to do anything.

    Anyway, when I was better they invited me to church and they were extremely nice. When I broke the news to them that I had no interest in church they all cut me off from their friendliness and I never saw them again. Your post reminded me of that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s very tough. I think the hardest part of accepting kindness from strangers is that you don’t know what they expect in return. In your case, the Mormon folks, although it seemed their kindness was free, in fact it was not. The end goal was to get you to attend church and join their community. And when you were not able to offer that, you were dropped.

      While I don’t agree, I understand the behaviour. Be it Mormons, Christians, or any type of organisation where there is an underlying agenda to expand and gain more followers, one has to use time wisely. Time is finite. One cannot be all things to all men.

      I cannot speak for Mormonism. But for Christianity, especially say, Evangelicals, there is a responsibility to preach and spread God’s word to the ends of the earth. While the overarching message is love, and that should always, always be at the centre of all Christian activity, it’s not uncommon to see preaching and evangelising as ‘the’ end goal. If so, when someone realises the other person will almost never convert, there’s no point continuing to preach and use resources on him.

      I think the take-away is, if you ever find someone who loves you for free, no strings attached (parents aside – as they naturally would), be thankful for that love, cherish that person. There ain’t no free lunch in the world 95% of the time.

      Thank you for sharing your story, Sulfen.

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  3. Hi!
    I really liked your post. I always like to answer the tough questions. I don’t like to follow something blindly so I have to research and question everything. My personality is an INTJ, which is the least trusting. I believe there’s a higher being(let’s just say that for now) because it’s hard to imagine that everything created itself. Maybe the Higher Being used the various methods that scientists say. I watched this one scientist show and I was amazed by their statements. There were these two asteroids in the middle of space and if they didn’t collide with each other, our planet wouldn’t keep forming into what it is today. Say, some person created a clay pot…well, we would call that person the creator of that. The clay pot can’t make itself for it needs help.

    Sometime in my past life, I did something that caused me great guilt. It kept coming up in my life and I just wanted peace. I don’t crave money, power, etc…I just wanted peace. So I basically watched other people and read the Bible, Koran, and other religion books. Christianity caught my eye. I heard this Christian rap artist (Lecrae) and his music and story changed my perspective. Check him out! Great music and his life story is amazing! I do believe that it really depends on what Christians you meet. Some have more maturity and other don’t. Some Christians who say they are Christians these days are aren’t. At first, I didn’t totally dive into Christianity at first and I didn’t totally understand. However, I talked to my pastor and he really helped me out.

    So what’s church to me. I’ve learned a lot going to church. No one has forced me to go. I mainly go to church so I can be around other believers. Although, I have to admit some of them aren’t Christians. I think people still don’t get what Jesus has done for them so other people can still look down on Christianity. I don’t think “real” Christians should ever give up on people even when their life-style might not be the best. Christians shouldn’t join in that life-style.

    Anyway, those are my really long thoughts. Look forward to hearing back from you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s amazing, I’m happy to hear you to go to church at your own will and enjoy it. I trust you’ve made an informed decision and it’s great you stuck by it.
      No doubt Christianity helps out people who are struggling, are in need, are at a bad place in life. I’ve heard numerous Christian stories of hope and turnaround, and people’s lives changed for the better. Though this is not restricted to Christianity. People’s lives can change for the better with other religions too, alongside other pursuits like music, art, travelling, psychological understanding etc.
      You’ve said it – the fact that we’re here on this planet, and intelligently creating, writing, conversing, is a miracle in itself! From a scientific vantage, the creation of life on earth post big-bang and gaseous star/planetary formation is nearly impossible. Which is why I think the intelligent design argument has gained so much momentum. Life on earth without an intelligent creator is just too implausible! That’s why we need to stick in a creator there for it to make sense…
      Well at least people from the past saw it this way before they could understand our place in the universe. As we understand the universe more and have a better grasp of how we got here (I’m thinking Darwinian evolution, how the earth formed, what the rest of the universe looks like), we can start better answering the question of ‘why’ we are here. Some resort to a purpose designed by God, and others resort to living this life and ceasing the moment, perhaps even making the world a better place, because of the odds they beat at existing at all.
      I sort of went on a tangent. Back to your point of church being a great place to learn, and being surrounded by like minded people – true. And I think for a teenager growing up in the vastness of this world it is a wonderful place to start. At least church doesn’t advocate bad behaviour or patterns of thinking like promiscuity, drug-use, malice, stealing etc, and instead promotes healthy habits like camaraderie, loving thy neighbor, generosity and self-reflection. But a word of caution for too much “group think” – there are teachings at church that not only hinders free thinking, it also quietly indoctrinates the mind through years of preaching and instilling set thought patterns. The moment you’re curious about something and ask in earnest for an answer (after of course, consulting the bible and other credible Christian sources – but even the bible’s wholesomeness should be questioned sometimes – nothing should be infallible), but find yourself being suppressed, or your question dismissed as heresy, or you accused of blasphemy, then you know something fishy is going on. The reason people get jittery over tough questions is because they don’t have a sound explanation for them. And telling others to blindly believe something based on faith because of a lack of logical explanation isn’t really …. intelligent.
      I comfort myself with this: if God were true, real, loving, and omnipotent as we so preach he is, he will withstand any question, doubt, challenge. Nothing is too outrageous for him and no query too hurtful. And if we continue to seek the truth, what is true will always prevail.

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  4. Hi! It means a lot that you answered me and Followered me! I mostly talk about fun things but I’ll add some of my own thoughts. You know, you’ve earned some respect for yourself. I honesty hate it when people disagree with something I’ve said and don’t have the backing. Even if their reason was the dumbest answer, I wouldn’t be upset. I’ve always thought that people don’t think for themselves on these very serious topics. They just follow what other people say so your blog has given me hope. I know that I didn’t want anyone, even my parents influencing my decisions as to what I believe because I know that if you only believe something because of other people, you won’t be grounded in it. I guess that’s why so many young Christians after they leave their parents home, start drifting away from Christianity because they’re not grounded.

    I promise that I will try to keep this short. No promises though since I’ve already written a lot. I absolutely believe that God that I worshiped is the only God or god that could’ve created the world. How he created it, that’s still a mystery. However, I totally disagree with creationists. Yes, the Bible says the universe was created in 7 days but God’s not in time. A year could be a million years for all we know. I was watching some debate where Bill Nye and some famous creationist got together. Bill Nye was even saying that he has nothing against Christianity…maybe even God created it but what he can’t stand is people like the creationists who believe that the earth was created in 7 days. There’s scientific evidence that the earth is a lot older. So it’s people like creationists who are also ruining Christianity.

    Actually! I love your last paragraph. I kind of just want to die to know that what I believe is true. However, I kind of want to learn more. In a way, I want to prove myself to God that I believe in Him and His son. I don’t follow blindly, I think for myself. I’ll close this comment with a quote that I just love by Philip Yancy. He’s a very famous Christian writer. He says, ““Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.” I may not know everything now but I’m hoping God will tell me everything that I need to know…let’s just say to put my mind at ease so I can enjoy Heaven. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s great! Keep seeking and questioning and critically thinking! If God and Christianity make sense and gives direction and purpose to your life, it’s a beautiful thing. As long as it doesn’t infringe on the freedoms and fundamental rights of others. While no one can know for sure if heaven exists since it’s not observable nor proven by evidence, to have faith in such can be a crucial driving force to living a purposeful life. The bible preaches faith, hope, love – all which are elements of what makes us human.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

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