Relationship with Christ

Can I Not Go To Church Without Upsetting God

Short answer, yes, but God may still be displeased with us for other reasons, it is SO much deeper than church attendance…ย 

I’ve said it before in every single post I’ve written about church. I’m not against church. If you want to write a comment defending church, and defending how we need to be the body and not forsaking the assembling of ourselves, go right ahead because you’re right, and I totally support that. ๐Ÿ™‚ I just want to save you some time writing your perhaps lengthy comment to things I completely agree with and support.

I’ve written at least five posts, if not more on the topic of church. This one you may want to check out if you are not familiar with any of them, it’s a summary of how I stand.

Related Post |ย Why I Have Some Posts Warning Against Church

But if you’re curious…you can also check out these other posts.

Church Has Become An Idol Pt. 1 | Appearance of Christ

Church Does Not Mean You Walk With Christ

Itโ€™s Not About Church

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What I am against is the crutch people use when it comes to church, making church a substitute for God. I am against the hypocrisy and judgment that more often than not sits in the seats. And I am speaking BEYOND the fact no one is perfect in church.

Many churches are deceiving. Many fallen believers are toxic in church or outside. Many groups of believers cause division and stumble up others. There are wolves in sheep’s clothing and the sheep are being scattered. Woe to any leader who is strikes the Shepherd’s sheep.

I obviously can say more, and I have previously, and probably will later, but today’s post is about the individual who has more than likely struggled with a past church experience. Someone who is hurt. Someone who is probably confused. Someone who more than likely is growing a seed of bitterness.

Because that is what my toxic church experience did to me.

I’ve written a four-part series on it, so if you want the details the series totally covers it.

Related Post |ย Toxic Church Experience | Godโ€™s Plan?

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The church represents the body, not confined to a building but gathering. It represents a group of people who may or may not claim to be a believer. Who may or may not have an active walk with Christ. The True Church is one body of believers, and these believers all have the right relationship with Christ. Not perfect but there is a love for Christ, a desire for His ministry to carry out the Gospel, a willingness to change, to seek forgiveness, to be humble and have a love for others including our enemies. That is what the True body of Christ is.

It is easy for us to point fingers at people in the church setting who are hypocritical believers. It is easy for us to point to anyone else except ourselves. We are not perfect either and if we had the right relationship with Christ then seeds of bitterness would not grow in our heart. That no matter how horrible a fallen believer may have treated us, we would not take it out on God.

But this is exactly what happens…

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So many people have fallen and get stumbled because imperfect people are not Christlike. Is it REALLY surprising that someone who is not perfect and does not have the right relationship with God struggles to be Christlike? Are these not indicators why it is important to pray for other believers? Are these not good enough reasons to know what it means to be Christlike in our own life?

Because someone has to be! Why do we expect it to be everyone else to be loving towards others and enemies…but not from ourselves?

Jesus told us from the beginning these things would happen. Yet countless times, we see the body fall because they do not have the right heart.

Truth– They can’t have the right heart if they do have the right relationship with Christ!

We expect and desire for people to not hurt us as a believer when we are fallen and imperfect. Shame on us!

Going to church is NOT important!! Argue with me if you want but you cannot deny me this! SPENDING TIME WITH CHRIST THROUGHOUT EVERY SINGLE DAY IS MOST IMPORTANT! Not scheduling “a time slot” for Him. But most people do not continue their relationship outside of church. And many believers whether they go to church or not are not devoting enough time to grow in Christ.

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This is WHY we struggle when people hurt us! We aren’t being Christlike either! We are not humble or patient. We are not forgiving towards others. We carve out lines every time a believer hurts us so we can discuss how “fallen” everyone is but refuse to talk about how imperfect our walk is.

We do more doubting in God than believing in Him. We reflect on our own bitterness and anguish than we reflect on Him and His love for others, even those who do not care for Him.

Do not misunderstand. I’m not saying stay in a church that is constantly toxic and only rotting you. But I am saying we need to let go, move on, and draw close to God regardless of what our church situation is like or wasย like.

The truth is if we honestly love God then we will grow where we are planted. If we struggle because we do not have support from those around us it should be an alert that our perceived relationship with God is not actually through Jesus but through people…

Heard of the love of money? Try the love of people. I see Christians question God when they are not connecting with others. When church is tough on them. When they are not being lifted up from the worship service.

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These are issues with people not issues with God. The wages of sin is death and many who walk the broad path are fallen, believers. Yet we take the brokenness from our circle that once gave us support, now making us bitter and we blame God.

We do not understand Him or scripture…because I think we never did… I think we get caught up in being around other believers and measuring our faith and our walk with Christ on how others perceived us to be. Or even our works in the community, bloggers beware. If we did not regularly, without any obligation to the body of believers, study our Bibles before church (or blogging), how will that change when church is out of the picture. If we did not pray regularly before, that will not change.

Church can easily make our relationship with Christ a routine, we found a substitute, and that is NOT what it means to have a relationship with Christ. This is all on us.

Going to church is meant to be an opportunity to grow, learn and encourage others together while praising God. But going to church does not and never meant you or I ever had a relationship with Christ. To have a TRUE relationship with Christ is all outside of church and Bible study with others. Sure, church may have guided or encouraged our relationship or desire to know Jesus better. But that’s all it is.

Including when the body of believers gather here in the blogging community.

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God is not confined to a building, a scheduled time, a routine, or among other believers. Everything comes down to a heart issue. Your heart issues. My heart issues.

Our issues may have been influenced by people but that is not God’s fault. Just because someone acts like a representative or spokesperson for Christ does not mean they are Christlike. We can’t treat the two as the same.

And God will call us out for it.

Do we honestly know Him? Did we ever know Him?

The time is now.


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51 thoughts on “Can I Not Go To Church Without Upsetting God

  1. Awesome post, T. R! I agree with you that WE are the church.
    I have a prayer request for you if you wouldn’t mind praying. My church, which has been open 65 years, is on the verge of closing. There are just too many problems with the physical building that we are going to have to move. We will be relaunching in January as a new church with a new name and most likely will have to meet in schools until we find a new building to call our own. Please pray that everything goes smoothly as we transition in this phase of life. It’s so bittersweet because I’ve been attending this church since I was 4 years old.
    BUT, like you said, WE are the church, the physical building is just that….a building! Where we go doesn’t matter. WE are the church and our job is to bring others to Christ!

    Liked by 8 people

    1. My home church’s original location since I was 6 was a building built in the late 1800s and it was falling apart when I turned 23 we moved into a new building. May this time be a time of strengthening the community. I will add your request. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Sounds like you are driving at the deception, “Being in a garage doesn’t make you a car.” People go to church and think they are saved, when only a confession of sin, repentance, and faith in Jesus Christ saves you. A relationship with Christ IS the christian life. Yes, churches can be toxic but I wouldn’t say church attendance isn’t necessary – it’s about finding a healthy church. God knows we need accountability and the wisdom of spiritual fathers and mothers.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. Agreed there are some amazing church bodies out there. ๐Ÿ™‚ We need accountability and relations with others and I did not make that as clear because I’ve talked about it in the past. I really like the analogy of the car and garage! I really hope I can encourage people to really look at their relationship with Christ first and foremost because if we are not right with Him, nothing else matters or is as important. But when our desire is for Him our bound with others can be strengthened and we can be laborers in the field.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. It should also be said that going to a healthy church isn’t a guarantee that you subject yourself to authority. Lots of people go to church, Sunday school, grab the doughnuts & juice, say hi to people as they shuffle to their assigned seats and NEVER get real about sin and struggles in their life. So the community surrounding you is wasted…

        Liked by 4 people

      2. Agreed! And I think that reflects more of a religious routine reason for going not gathering together. So you made a good point we can be around the assembly gathering and still forsake people!!

        Liked by 2 people

  3. The verse upon which the concept of not “forsaking the assembling of ourselves together”, that being Hebrews 10:25, has an interesting meaning behind the Greek word for “Forsaking.” Strong’s says, “to leave behind in some place, that is (in a good sense) let remain over, or (in a bad one) desert.” A different Greek Lexicon had this to say about it:

    1) abandon, desert
    1a) leave in straits, leave helpless
    1b) totally abandoned, utterly forsaken
    2) to leave behind among, to leave surviving

    Basically, I would say that the word forsaking probably has more to do with totally apostatizing than anything. Verse 26 which follows adds “For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth” kind of confirms my thoughts on the matter to an extent. I would go so far as to suggest that the issue is not occasionally missing church, perhaps even attending a different one from your home church every now and then, but a complete and total abandoning of any church attendance period. Generally I only miss church myself when I’m sick. One day there was a presentation by Ken Ham at a weekend conference thing, which given my interest in Apologetics I didn’t particularly want to miss that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I definitely agree with a lot of what you are saying. Instead of church referring to a gathering in a building, what many know of church to be. I view it as an assembly, an actual group of people whether meeting in person or gathering together like in the blogging community. And you are so right we cannot forsake getting together with believers. That is where it is at. Be it in a building with people, gathering in homes, or communicating and encouraging each other online. Conferences can be great!! A lot of opportunities and perspectives to hear out.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. The actual church buildings are not going to stand through persecution. Believers could be quickly reduced to a point where they’re meeting “underground” in each others homes, if not hiding out in the woods or mountains somewhere as in the case of those who’ve endured extreme persecution in the past. The fact that we have the freedom right now to go to church, study our Bibles, pray, and freely blog online is a tremendous blessing that maybe some of us might take for granted.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Amen!!! This is why I write the posts on church that I do because I think it has easily become religious and not something we get to do because we are blessed with the opportunity. There is a heavy judgement among believers if people are not attending church they are not saved or do not have a walk with Christ and this assumption is simply judgemental. There are many people in church who do not have the right relationship with Christ, which is why this is my main take home point in these posts.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Something I think most people miss is the fact that there is no such thing as a “perfect church.” It is full of fallen human beings, which means you’re likely going to run into all the baser parts of human nature. Sin, crime, fanaticism, cold formalism, hypocrisy, a seemingly overwhelming lack of compassion, and attitudes that fit the description of “Laodicea” in the book of Revelation are all likely to be there. Not to mention self-rightousness thrown into the mix. On the fanaticism angle you’ll get things that are just plain whack where some are bringing in new heresies, and others are just dressing up old ones in new garbs and the Scriptures are ripped out of their context or read Esiegetically [reading something into a verse which isn’t really there]. People seem to think that either the Church should be perfect, or they themselves need to be before they attend church. I like to think of Church as more a hospital for the sick, which is why you run into the mess I described.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Again totally agree!! Which I talked about briefly in this post. It is like you discussed finding a healthy church where sure, not everyone is perfect but overall the desire to reach and connect with others is fairly genuine. I’ve been in churches like that and you of course have a handful of people who may be stumbling blocks to others but the pastor is not like that and the overall congregation isn’t like that. I’ve been in churches where the pastor preached holiness but the congregation did not know how to connect outside of church and made it all about church which it is not. This is why I say for people struggling if they are in a church that is toxic and only stumbling them (rotting) it is ok to leave. But we can’t hold onto our bitterness either. Thanks for the discussion by the way! Love the points you are making. You may really enjoy the other posts I’ve written in church, no pressure!!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I have had bad experiences myself, but naturally I find myself biting the bullet and holding position. A friend of mine once stated that it was kind of like Omaha beach, where people would get picked off by the devil almost as soon as they gave their lives over to Christ. Beyond the fact that I feel like I go for God and not for the people, I seem to have a bent toward holding position in even view of bad experiences and whatever negative things I observe. I’m in for the long haul.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s wonderful. My home church I visit when I visit family even since I was 13 I have felt misunderstood by many. But I love the congregation and I am so thankful for the positive God has also done for the church and myself. I think when the good is there and when you are there for Christ there may be a reason He has you where you are. But should He want you somewhere else I am sure you will know. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  5. Completely understand where you are coming from. I was once involved in a terrible form of “church hurt” with people who claimed to know and believe in Christ but their actions displayed differently. Some time has passed and I believe God works everything out for our good if we choose to love him first! I use to not want to step into any church that resembled any look or feel of the church that I had come from. I was confused as to why God would allow these kind of people to continue on their paths of deceit. Truth is…life will happen, evil will dwell within and among us, but it is our choice to not allow it to become something out of the alignment of His word. God is still God regardless of any situation or outcome and we as believers still need to support and encourage one another because we were created for community! Today my beliefs in congregating at church are different from the tainted views I had before. Why? Because I decided to have a personal relationship with Christ Himself and not to depend solely upon the man/woman of God that Pastor’s a church. We are all frail and live in sin, we need Christ’s strength and spirit to keep us holy and righteous. We can’t depend on our own human limitations. But our Creator created us to commune not only with Him but with those around us. The problem is truly indeed that humanity’s dependency is on one another alone and not walking out ones own faith. So that they can encounter and experience Christ for themselves and NOT depend on the knowledge and seemly power of man alone that can only come from the Lord. I enjoyed this post, it got my wheels turning ๐Ÿ™‚
    P.S. the church I attend now is AH-MAZING! My perspective has changed, we DO need each other for support, encouragement and uplifting in prayer. Small groups should be a requirement lol

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh I am so blessed by reading this and how God has reached you and healed you!!! Praise be to God! I love every single thing you have shared and agree with it SO MUCH!!! This is why I try to e courage people if they have a church they attend to try to gather outside of the walls. So important we do not stay located in only one area. This is why God pushed me to reach out to other Christian bloggers outside of blogging and I recently started to Skype one of these friends and we now are doing Bible study on Skype! I also have a home church when I visit my family and I’m so grateful for it. God taught me a lot after having my toxic church experience. He gave me a voice for understanding the pain people feel and He opened my eyes to things He has been placing on my heart about the church since I was 13 years old. I’m so thankful He has allowed me to open up to the body of believers through writing. God is so good!!!

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  6. You hit the nail on the head, T.R. Church has replaced a relationship with Christ for too many people. I know you agree that Christians should be in some sort of faith community, but that community can become a crutch. We wonder why believers and non-believers alike have the notion that Christianity means trying to be “a good person” or following a set of rules in order to go to heaven after death–a shallow understanding of faith that essentially excludes Jesus (and disregards the foundational concept of grace). Perhaps it’s because so many who claim the title of Christian do not know Jesus–through reading His words, praying to Him, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, etc.

    Liked by 3 people

  7. Great post! God has planted me in a church, and Iโ€™m even an Elder, but despite that level of involvement, I also seem to see it as you do. People may interpret your message as an attack on church, but thatโ€™s NOT what I see here at all. Thank you for including links to other related posts. Good reads too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much! Yes, no matter how often I say it I know some people still struggle with these posts and feel that I’m against the assembly gathering. I’m not and it is not about the gathering as much as it is about Jesus. We are not good to the body if we have no connection to the head, and True Vine.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. This has nothing to do with your post, lol, but I have an update for you on R.C.
    Basically, as far as I know, he was about to be able to go home, but they called him back. He had some sort of treatment in which they gave him the wrong sort of blood plasma so his leg got really swollen! He’ll be alright, though.
    Super good news: the cancer cannot be removed, but is containable. His condition will likely remain stable and he is in no danger of dying. Thank you so much for praying!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. I think the confusion comes into play when we make the church our God instead of making the Lord of the church our God.

    And, I believe this “church worship” is being strongly promoted within today’s modern institutional churches, too. I have seen it repeated over and over again, and I do believe it is intentional, too, for it is a way of manipulating and controlling the people and getting them to follow humans over God.

    Loyalty to “the body” is being promoted over and above loyalty to our Lord. Memorizing of human goals and objectives over memorizing of scripture is also being pushed. Unity with man-made religion and with marketing objectives over unity with Christ and his word is also being impressed on the minds of God’s people.

    Unity with denominationalism and with their theologies above searching out the truths of God’s Word for ourselves is also being strongly promoted. Even giving people the impression that the building is “God’s house,” and that the sanctuary (worship center) is where we meet with God or know his presence is putting the structure of “church” above our relationships with God.

    So, what I am saying here is that much of the reason that people are worshiping the structure of church is because the leaders within our church fellowships (a lot of them) are being taught to encourage such worship of church over true worship of God, because it puts humans in the place of God over the people so that they end up controlling people’s minds and thinking and believing instead of the people seeking out God for themselves and forming personal relationships with Jesus Christ.

    So, we need to break out of that, if that is where we are. We need to see the church, not as the structure, and not as the building, but as the body of Christ, with HIM as the head, not people. And, we need to seek out our Lord and a relationship with him, and then let our fellowships with other believers flow out from that, even if what we discover in our walks with the Lord finds us standing in opposition to some of those human-based structures, and challenging false teaching, and going outside the mold of institutional religion in order to have genuine vital relationships with our Lord Jesus.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. As you know, I wholeheartedly agree, Sue ๐Ÿ™‚ there really is nothing much I can add to this already! We have discussed this issues in multiple emails and comments but I hope your comment reaches out to others. It is so important to make sure He is first that is how everything will flow. As I’ve told a fellow commenter, if it is not about God we are not much help to the body.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. โ€œSo many people have fallen and get stumbled because imperfect people are not Christlikeโ€ You are absolutely right about this. The congregation is full of people with varying degrees of spirituality that can stumble others. That is why the Apostle Paul constantly tried to help those in the congregation to not stumble others and warned them to โ€œstop keeping company with anyone called a brother who is sexually immoral or a greedy person or an isolated or a reviled or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a manโ€ (1 Corinthians 5:11-13). However, neither Paul nor any of the other apostles ever wanted spread the notion that meeting together with the congregation was not important.

    Jesus Christ set the example and was always in the synagogue reading and being taught Godโ€™s word. You are absolutely right that we must take time to spend time with Jehovah God through our own personal study and prayer. This is how we build a personal relationship with God. But meeting together is equally as important. You mentioned the scriptures say we should not forsake the gathering of ourselves together. The reason why is because we need the encouragement and support (Romans 1:12). Jesus mentioned that his true followers would be hated by the world. We would be persecuted and despised because of adhering to godly standards. I canโ€™t imagine facing that type of opposition without the love and support of the congregation. It helps us to keep on going and stay faithful.
    We can have a relationship with God and we can learn about him and draw close to him without the congregation, but if we want to stay on the cramped road leading to life we will need the support and encouragement of others traveling on that same road.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Absolutely!!! I love and agree with all of the points you have made. I’ve have written a lot in previous posts how I encourage people being together, so that’s why I did not talk about it much on this post. But your response is a great refresher for anyone who is not familiar with scripture. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    2. And as I always say in these posts church is the body of people, not a building.:) so surrounding ourselves with those who are like minded still helps us grow in encouragement and scripture.

      Like

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