I remember when I was young my parents used to sensitize the importance of Church to me. They used to wake me up every Sunday morning and prepare me for Church. I sincerely used to hate Church with all my heart. I never saw the essence of it as it was the same thing being taught in the CRE lesson, the only difference is that you had the liberty to make jokes awaiting play time.
As a child, Sunday school was important and mandatory for every if not most children and those who do not go to Church were profiled as non-believers who would never see the kingdom of heaven. I grew up knowing that our Church was right and everyone else was wrong. I grew up knowing that some churches serve the devil and others do not serve the true God.
I grew up with routines on when and how to pray. The church really sensitized the importance of holiness and created a picture of an old man up there with a rod always ready to punish you whenever you do anything wrong. I grew up in fear of the old man who doesn’t die and who hates evildoers with passion. I grew up knowing that every sinner (every person who took alcohol, who smoked, who chewed miraa or who stepped in a bar) was filthy and God really hated them.
But then I grew up and Church taught me of this man Jesus who was fully God and fully man who came to die for sinners because He loved them. It taught me how He came to seek and find the lost and of how He came to set the captives free. I was made aware, many times of how he mingled with sinners, how he even dined with the ‘filth’ of that time and how He broke most of the rules of how to relate to the murk of the society.
It felt redeeming to get what the Church taught me about Christ, I mean, Jesus came for someone like me? FIlthy and unworthy? I learnt about His love and how he came to set captives free. I loved how at first the Church was welcoming and felt like home.
But the same Church was emphasizing so much on sin. The more I spent time in Church the more I felt that I never belonged. I was always guilty. Guilty that I lied, guilty that I listened to secular music and guilty that I said some bad words. The Church really emphasized on perfection and the more I tried, the more I failed.
Sermons turned out to be, “You need to do good so that God would bless you” and “You need to give more to receive more”. Church told me that I needed to pray more especially in the wee hours of midnight and dawn so that God can hear me. Church taught me that I MUST fast and go high up to the mountains for spiritual nourishment, else my salvation won’t be as strong. Church told me to read the Bible and know it inside out. It gave me a yearly plan to read it every day for 52 weeks.
Church really concentrated on the dos and don’ts and I became I slave. I realized I was in religion, the same thing the Church told me to fight. I was always making notes during sermons, notes like “5 ways to know if she is really the one”, “10 ways to know if you are spiritually mature” or “The 5 ways to keep pure from sexual sin.” It was sad that all these remained in my notebook and not in my heart. And that’s when it hit me that my pastor had to have a university degree to pastor in that church. I was merely taught from books like in any other field and not through discernment from the Holy Spirit.
I realized that I was learning theology and not the deep things of God. I had done years of research, apologetics and getting to know what is right and what is wrong but the more I dug in, the more I realized that I knew nothing because everything was confusing and I would never figure God out. And this is why ‘Men of God’ mostly never agree on each other because many argue from their intellect and always want to be right. These days a good teacher is judged from the punch lines he makes. How sad.
I asked myself so many questions that even my pastor friends couldn’t answer. I asked them why heathens prosper and they really do not care about the Lord while ‘we Christians’ suffer in poverty and we give our tithes and offerings and abide by God’s laws. Why should a pastor tell me that I am healed but still give me statistics on medicine? Isn’t the healing divine? Why should a pastor tell me I am rich while he is also suffering in despair waiting for the Lord? Or is it God’s Plan?
Why do we look for perfection in every other field, say in arts we look for CVs and portfolios and see that that person is qualified but we ignore to ask if we can see God moving in our preacher’s life? Or we shouldn’t ask too much in this realm because it is not worldly?
I realized that I was choking on religion and I was saving myself using my own flesh. I realized that I had gone back to the law and was striving so much to obey the commandments. I was striving to make myself pure and free but in real sense, I was in jail. The jail of guilt and striving to be perfect. I was in this jail of trying to unmask God and know who He really is and try to defend the faith. But who said we needed to defend the faith? Did Jesus really defend the faith? Is the battle mine or the Lords?
I had to relearn everything. I had to tell God to give me His wisdom and not those from books and quotes that are mostly shared by ‘Christians’ on WhatsApp statuses and social media stories.
We are blinded by religion while we say that we are free, that Jesus has set us free. We are busy chasing pregnant girls and immoral boys from the Church because of ‘visible’ sin but get away with our unknown or unseen filth. We have made sin have levels while God says to His eyes all sin is equal. We have created routines and timings to pray, because maybe at those times the demons are asleep. We have really concentrated on sin and the devil that we have lost the true meaning of salvation. We have forgotten that the curtain was split. That’s why with our weak flesh we try to please Him by trying too hard. We think of ourselves as always filthy and imperfect but did you know that you are righteous?
But who said a Christian, a remnant cannot be rich? Who said they are to be poor on earth because their riches are in heaven? How much seed do I need to plant? Well, I have seen many giving their all to Church and have remained poor year after year. I am really not against giving but what if the Church taught its congregants about who they really are, about how God sees them and about how much they can achieve? How about the Church preached less of crying to the Lord and more of rejoicing in the Lord? How about the Church preached more of the Resurrection Power and less of Sin and Satan?
I want to be free. I want to worship God anywhere and everywhere. I want Him to be my best friend, literally. I do not just want to find Him in Church. I want to walk with Him like a friend, not mumbling and repeating nonsensical words like the pagans but I want to know him deep through the Spirit. He gave us a helper, remember? Does your Church teach you about the helper? Don’t you think it is time maybe you learned from the Holy Spirit? From God himself?
I rather live with one verse and meditate upon it day and night rather than have a Bible Reading schedule and boring devotions that we must all follow so that we can finish the Bible in a year. I have done that severally and learned nothing. How about you stopped being a slave to your own faith and be free because He came to set the captives free?
I say, teach me about the light and darkness will automatically disappear rather than teach me about darkness that will make me live and fear and worry..