As I walk alongside people in discipleship, I’m learning many of their deeply rooted theological beliefs come from what someone’s told them along the way. Things like, “When you’re not hearing from God, it’s because there’s sin in your life,” or “Good Christians, fill-in-the-blank and avoid, fill-in-the-other-blank.” They’ve heard pastors say fear is an indicator they aren’t trusting God enough. Essentially, for most of our lives, many of us have been told to look in, instead of up.
Stuart Briscoe said we often have to unlearn some things before we can learn something new. Many of us have a lot to unlearn. Many of us have to unlearn theology that’s secondary to the primary point of Scripture, that Jesus Christ died for our sins and rose again to give us eternal life. But how do we do that? Well, to one of my children I suggested this action item,
Stop going to church.
Not forever, of course, but sometimes the church can inhibit unlearning. The church can convolute the gospel of grace under the guise of religion. It can emphasize doing for God, rather than simply resting in His Son’s finished work. Church can over-spiritualize, consumerize, and glamorize Jesus instead of lovingly, patiently, and compassionately pointing people to Him. How do I know?
I am the church.
I taught my kids Scripture that focused on what they should and shouldn’t do. Every day before school I told them to be set apart. I emphasized and modeled the importance of improving by trying harder. I esteemed success, obedience, and the power of good choices. In a nutshell, I taught them how to avoid needing the cross altogether,
By working hard to be better.
If the principles, programs, and preaching coming from the church or our own mouths doesn’t first emphasize the comprehensive work of the cross of Christ, but focuses more about what we do, maybe skip church next week. Maybe stay home and ask God to show you His love made manifest on the cross. Perhaps spend time reading the Bible to learn about God’s love and character, instead of reading it to find out how to succeed more and fail less. Skip listening to that podcast or your Christian friends telling you their take on religion, and spend time asking God to meet you in your doubts, frustrations, and partial beliefs about Him. Maybe this week, simply begin unlearning the importance of how to speak, think, and act better.
Because if we could figure that out, Christ wouldn’t have had to have come in the first place.