What if everything so many Christians in Western culture have said about the importance of attending a local church is true? That you either attend a local church or become a spiritual nomad? You either submit to the leadership of a local church or be a rebel living in a wasteland of churchlessness?
What if you met Jesus face to face, and He asked you, Why don't you go to church?
Well, I really do not believe Jesus' questions are much in any way like ours, nor do I believe that what we have come to, excuse me, exalt, maybe even idolize, in our Western ideology, are things that Jesus Christ deems of any importance.
What if Jesus did condemn people who did not go to church every time the doors are open, as I heard many times in my old fundamentalist church?
I have had many invitations from co-workers to visit "Bible-believing" fundamentalist churches. I have also seen the damage caused by ultra-fundamentalist churches and want no part of it. My memory recalls many instances, when a group of people, in my opinion, were not authorized to be the church in the area, and caused damage as a result. I remember befriending a man named Doug twelve years ago, when he was losing his wife in divorce, he told me that he had developed a chauvanistic attitude toward women, which his church Bible Baptist Church of Pensacola helped foster in him. How many women are driven away from their husbands because of a husband's allegiance to this militant fundamentalism, who promote anti-intellectual mindsets that are not really based on the Bible. There are other casualties I have seen along the way. A few years ago, my wife was making meals for the wife of a former member of the church, who had committed suicide. From what I recall, this man had a public testimony of being a "witness" and being of good character, but struggled with being rejected and disowned by an ultra-fundamentalist church in Pensacola.
My experience has been, along with other churches, that fruitlessness abounds and the person of Jesus Christ is not really being seen in these so called "local churches." There is so much fruitlessness that I could not even begin to expound. Jesus said,"Wisdom is justified by her children." Does that not tell you something about the nature of fruit bearing in Christ?
Of the harsh words that I read from the words of Jesus, I have never once seen an indication that if one feels that a church is fruitless, especially one that claims to stand on the Bible alone, that if one stays away for fear that it is toxic and unsafe for attending purposes, that Jesus Christ will personally condemn that individual. Maybe, many pastors and clergy leaders will, but not Jesus Christ.
Yes, I been have been invited more than one time to church in Pensacola, and I shudder when I think of attending. Usually, it is a kind co-worker who is inviting me, who does not really know the way themselves, but thinks I could benefit from their brand of fundamentalism.
But I have met with quite a few people who have been wounded by this kind of militant fundamentalism and I fear for the lives of my wife and children to keep them from a fruitless type of living, that is not in accordance with the principles of humble, loving submission to Christ.
The question has come to me quite frequently, as I do not attend a institutionalized religious 501C3 corporation also known as a local church, is it even permissible to do nothing for church out of belief that none of it locally represents Christ's authority and the ascension gifts manifest in the true church spoken of in the book of Ephesians? What about spiritual nomadism? Is it even Biblical?
After reading much of the Old Testament, I see many examples of people who did not have a local church, and were nomadic. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Daniel, and all of the prophets were nomadic, in that, they had no faith community or local setting in which they had to dwell every weekend of their lives. These people were nomadic and had no certain dwelling place, but this does not seem to play into the picture of who they were in the eyes of the Lord.
The local church is everything in the eyes of the Westernized Christian. It is the place where God bestows His authority, and outside of its leadership, you are sure to fail. But what about those people who do not trust the local church, or at least the one in your given locality in which you plan to live for a while? Is it Jesus that it really putting the pressure on you to join? What about Jesus Christ? In ministering the kingdom of God, did He ever call people to join a building? Was He unsympathetic to those who were afraid of the religious system, those who were broken? Remember, Isaiah's words, a bruised reed He would not break. Yes, those who are His sheep, who shutter at the thought of getting involved, does he force them to go join a church? Consider the words of Chapter 34 of Ezekiel in the English Standard Version, considering the Lord's shepherding heart: