the weblog of Alan Knox

Running from God

Posted by on May 23, 2008 in definition, discipleship | 8 comments

About a year and a half ago, I published a blog post called “Is our understanding of ‘church’ important?” In that post, I talked about a discussion that I had with a young lady concerning the church, and specifically what she learned about “church” by growing up “in church”. This was primarily what she communicated:

What did she learn? She learned that church is a place to go. She learned that what happened outside of the building was of negligible value to God. She learned that only professionals are capable of understanding and communicating the Bible.

I concluded that our actions are communicating things about the church that are not scriptural.

Last weekend, while we were helping a friend move, I met a young man from South Carolina. At one point, he and I were riding in the same van, moving some boxes. He started asking me about seminary and church. Since our mutual friend and I are part of the same church, he had heard some things about us – some things that were different. We talked about these things for a long time.

Then, I asked him, “What is God doing in your life?” He said, very honestly, “Well, right now I’m primarily running from God?”

Without asking, he began to share part of his story. I found out that this young man grew up in a situation similar to myself, attending churches that were both conservative and traditional. He was given alot of rules to live by. But, when he questioned some of those rules – specifically asking for scriptural backing for the rules – he was deemed a trouble-maker and a rebel.

He was taught that questioning his leaders was the same as questioning God, and disagreeing with his leaders was the same as rebelling against God. He (and those teaching him) had no category for humility in their understanding of God and the church. This is the current state of much of the church today. Either we agree on everything (that we decide is important), or we cannot remain friends and brothers/sisters.

So, the only way that my new friend could understand his current state is one of “running away from God”. Since he didn’t agree with the man-made rules that the “church leadership” tried to make him live by, he must be rebelling against God.

Again, what we think about the church, and what we teach about the church, are very important. Through our teaching and our actions we can work to help people grow toward maturity in Christ, or we can hinder them.


8 Comments

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  1. 5-23-2008

    Sounds like my story as well. We recently tried to do something not against scripture but against my organizations policy and we were treated the same way. Because of my past, I immediately starting thinking and believing that truly I must be disobedient. I even had a senior member of leadership write me and rebuke me, telling me that surely the Lord wouldn’t lead me to do something against policy. It’s been a difficult few months dealing with these “curses” spoken upon us.

    The truth is this isn’t who we are. We heard God’s voice, affirmed it with trusted counselors, went against policy, got turned down and paid a significant personal price with the loss of some relationships (like you said in your post.) But we know for sure we heard from the Lord and if we had to do it over again…wouldn’t change a thing.

  2. 5-23-2008

    I had a very different conversation today with a good friend. We were talking about how we might see churches planted in the very restrictive difficult villages of Gondor. We concluded that church can not be a building, a meeting, or an organization. Church must be equivilent to the Kingdom of God. As such ‘Church’ is our relationship to God and to each other. Villagers will have to live under tight scrutiny and this will mean that what defines ‘Church’ for them will be the casual encounters in their homes and at the workplace. Church will be their loving relationships with each other as they point each other to Jesus who is their leader. I know one village where that is the case. If it ever happens in the US it will be a light on a hill indeed.

  3. 5-23-2008

    Camel Rider,

    Thanks for sharing part of your story. I think that these situations are caused when leaders forget that they are called to be servants – not to exercise authority.

    Strider,

    You said: “Church will be their loving relationships with each other as they point each other to Jesus who is their leader.” What an awesome way to think about the church! Thank you!

    -Alan

  4. 5-23-2008

    Alan,

    I was deeply touched by this comment. Over the years I have had the sad privilege of meeting quite a few people such as the one you speak of.

    It took a long while but God used encounters such as this to cause me to re-examine all of the practices and traditions which we have unquestioningly deemed “biblical”.

    We only understood them as “biblical” because we had developed a theology of God “after our own image”, which, as a consequence meant that our understanding of what was truly Biblical,became twisted and warped, “after our own image”.

    Of course, our stinking sinful spiritual pride won’t let us believe that we could make such serious errors, and won’t let us examine these issues.

    How I agree with Strider.

  5. 5-23-2008

    Aussie John,

    I don’t suppose you’re interested in moving to the US?

    -Alan

  6. 5-23-2008

    This definitely is all to common of a problem in the church today. Many church leaders today want to make you think that your relationship with the church is the same as your relationship with God. They have a very unscriptural view that church is a place you go to. But, the Bible say that the church is who we are as believers in Jesus Christ, just as you said Allen when you were quoting the young lady who was led to believe that God really didn’t care about was goes on outside of the four walls of the church building.

    These are the very reasons why people are driven away from assembling with the saints of God. We should be living like we are the people of God everywhere we go. The institution of the church has become a self-sustaining organization unfortunately.

  7. 5-24-2008

    Lightbearer,

    I agree. Many leaders also want to make you think that your involvement and commitment to the programs and events of a certain church organization (i.e. XYZ Church) is the same as your relationship to either God or the church.

    -Alan

  8. 5-25-2008

    Alan,

    I wish!