Leaving Religion for the Way

If you are happily involved in and with a local church, then please don't read this. God bless you.

If you have been wondering what will happen if you take the red pill, how deep the rabbit hole goes ... and if there's a bottom or not, read on. There are many other blogs and websites, eg http://www.truthforfree.com/ http://awildernessvoice.com/which approach following Jesus in the same way, in fact the number is increasing all the time. More and more people all over the world are waking up to the fact that there is Life outside the organised expression of church, so I probably won't say anything particularly original, except as it has affected me and my family.

In 2006 I met a man in Scotland who told me that he had been living outside organised church for 23 years, by which I mean that he wasn't a member of a local church, didn't go to church services, pay tithes, or feel that he needed to be 'under' the covering of any pastor, priest or pope. He was down to earth, non-religious, fun, and obviously loved Jesus. This unsettled me. When I asked the Lord why I felt uneasy and even threatened by this, He immediately and clearly said, 'Because your security is in church and not in Me.'
That began a journey which is still continuing.

In 2004, in connection with the loss of the fourth of my children from miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies, I was recovering in hospital,  and my aunt, who is a Spirit-filled follower of Jesus, telephoned me. She said that the Lord had told her that my gynaecological problems were the result of Freemasonry in my family. What she didn't know was that my maternal grandfather had been a Freemason. I had discovered this fact years before and knew that there was a connection, but hadn't put two and two together. She recommended I find someone who could pray me free from this family curse and bondage. I asked the Lord to put me in touch with such a person.

Two years later, I was at a celebration for a new baby, and found myself sitting next to a lady who, it turned out, was the granddaughter of a man who had also been a Freemason. She put me in touch with another lady who helps people get free of this kind of thing.
Long story short; I visited her and she prayed for me and my living children. She also prayed for my (then) husband to be freed of Nazi spiritual inheritance, as his grandfather had been in the Waffens SS in WW2. She gave me a link to a website called Kanaan Ministries, which I began looking at once I got home again.

It was coming up for Christmas, and I was feeling as I usually did before that time; under pressure, stressed out and fed-up with the feeling that I had to run round in ever-increasing circles to conform to social, family and religious tradition. So I sat down to look at the above website.
20 years before, I had read Alexander Hislop's 'The Two Babylons', which exposes the spiritual connection between the ancient mystery religion of Babylon and the Roman Catholic institution, and so when I saw the list of decrees which the R.C. church had imposed on people from 300 AD onwards, I was reminded of the fact that it was around 336 AD that Christmas first began to be celebrated commemorating the birth of Christ. It suddenly hit me like a ton of bricks that it was completely unnecessary to celebrate Christmas if it was simply a decree of the Roman Catholic Church. That was the first domino to fall.

Subsequently, I prayed through a large number of the prayers of renunciation from spirits of control, witchcraft, Jezebel and Ahab.
The next thing to happen was that was able to confront my mother on issues of control which had been a problem for years. I had always been too afraid to do so before. It set me free from manipulation and helped me to relate to her without coming under the old childish ways of the past. This was the second domino.
The third was the realisation that the church system which has existed since about 200 AD had nothing to do with the dynamic, living Way which Jesus lived before His friends.
I had been part of a local free evangelical group which had begun 25 years or so before and was full of wonderful people and good friends, but which had gradually lost the dynamic life and relationships it had originally embodied. It would take too long to say how, but it began to happen once we began to rent our own rooms, elected a pastor, a treasurer, began to hold pre-planned and organised Sunday morning services, chose worship leaders, those responsible for children's work etc; all the positions we felt were necessary for a church.

We hadn't realised that we had been church already, ever since two or three had started to meet. But we looked around and saw other more established groups, who all had what we thought was necessary, and thought that we needed the same. We lacked the understanding that all that Old Covenant religion had been done away with by the Cross and that now Jesus Himself was our King-Shepherd-Priest. We were His Temple and worshipped Him by our lives lived loving Him and others. We had never needed a set pattern of service before - why now? We had shared our meals with each other before; now we had an occasional 'Lord's Supper' which was shared in the church rooms during a service. Yes, we had meals together still, but because of the necessary organisation needed to keep the rooms going, the pastor's salary flowing, the number of members growing, the shared life began to ebb away. We began to do more, work harder, improve ourselves, to try to bring back the life. It happened so slowly, few noticed until several years later.

I had been part of a small group which met to pray and ask the Lord what He was saying to us as a larger group. So we began to hear things like,

'I am tearing down the walls of my church, so that you can go out on the streets and find my lost sheep out there.'
'I want a jungle, a perfect, organic eco-system which I keep alive, not a managed forestry commission plantation, in which the trees stand in orderly rows, allow no plant life to grow beneath them and where it is dark and no bird sings.'
'It is time for you to begin living in tents, not in buildings.'
'Leave the big, motor-propelled ship and begin to sail in small sailing boats, directed by the wind again. Altering the organisation on the liner won't change a thing. Sooner or later the liner will sink and all that will be left are a few small boats, sailing around.'

These words were not received by the leadership of the church, or if they were, they were not understood. I began to ask more questions, which unfortunately made those in leadership feel criticised. I think they felt I was being disloyal. Looking back, I can understand. I thought in the same way once. With hindsight, I’m glad I was no longer in such a position. My identity was not in what I did, so there was nothing to threaten me when I left.
At about the same time, over the new year, an old friend was visiting who had lost his wife the year before. He was an elder in his own church at that time. After a year of nursing his wife through the ravages of liver cancer, he was exhausted, grieving and couldn’t bring himself to go to church services for several weeks. During that time, only one or two people phoned him and he was criticised for not ‘coming to meetings’. This shook him so much that he began to ask, ‘Well, what IS church?’
I was asking the same thing from my own experiences. We talked together for a very long time. I also researched in the internet and prayed.

Over the coming months I carried on, reading everything I could lay my hands on which could help me make sense of what I was beginning to see. The dominoes kept falling:

Sunday morning services.
Front-led worship.
Ordained ministers.
Bible schools.
Church buildings.
Pastoral position.
Church hierarchy.

I saw that there was nothing in the New Testament which said that any of these things were necessary.
Jesus didn't tell anyone to go out and build or rent a church building. In fact He ignored Peter when he offered to build Him one. (Matthew 17:4).
He said that He would build His church. He didn't tell anyone to organise worship services on a Sunday in a building.
He said that the Father sought people to worship Him in spirit and truth. (John 4:21)
He said that He was the good shepherd and all others were hirelings.
When I thought about it, I realised that all the pastors I had ever known took money for what they did, which wasn't something that the New Testament commanded.
He said that his friends weren't to lord it over each other and to be called leaders. (Mark 10:42-3) But what did we see? Positions and titles, and politics being practised, even unwillingly, by the best of men, at the best of times, and at the worst, hypocrisy and pride where it should not have been.

People were enslaved by a spiritual system which they could not see. The leaders themselves were caught up in something which was controlling them, without their being aware of it. It was the reason why there was so much spiritual abuse in the churches, perpetrated by good people, for what they really believed were good reasons, but it meant that position and programme were being placed before people. Tasks were more important than relationships. Truth, honesty and love often fell by the wayside in favour of authoritarian control. Submission was demanded and questioning this was called rebellion.

So I left the System. I stopped going to services (I could only cry through them anyway). I stopped paying tithes.  Funds were low in the church and the leaders asked the treasurer why, and she told them that some had stopped paying tithes, including us. The pastor (who lived in the flat above) confronted us. It was a hard time. Eventually, because of the manipulation and pressure, I withdrew my membership. I would have liked to say goodbye to the group I had been a part of for 15 years and explain to the church what I was doing, but I was not allowed to. The pastor felt that this would cause more people to leave. So I left without saying anything. It was a difficult time. I had no contact with those with whom I had been so close for so long, although they lived in the same house and I had seen them as my best friends. The grieving took several years and was deep. The children left home for school in the UK at the same time. Only one or two people contacted me occasionally, afterwards. I didn't try to explain to others in the church as I knew it would make matters more difficult for the pastor and his family.

God is faithful. He brought me through and I have been healed. He taught me to bless others and thank God for those who caused pain, realising that these experiences have been permitted to shape me more into the image of Christ, and forgiveness has to be like breathing. It will not always be possible to walk together with others, but Jesus is the Lord of relationships, and He gives and takes away as He wishes. He is Lord of everything. If I thank Him for what He allows, I come to see everything He permits to happen in my life as a blessing. If Jesus is central, then people won't be. I can let go, and the natural will cause no sting when it's taken away, as it must be one day. If I love Him, every other love will be subordinate to His.
I can enjoy friendships now, but not cling to them. This was a great error of mine. If church, an ideal, or anything else is central in our hearts, then it has taken the place of Jesus Himself and has become an idol. Because I clung to idols, it was correspondingly painful when He took them away.

If Jesus is central in our hearts, then ekklesia - the gathering of His people to love Him and love each other, will happen automatically.