Saturday, August 2, 2008

The church that Jesus is building

(Well, here it is - the blog that I've been trying to post since Friday. It's been a wild last couple of days because of the sitemeter problem. I miss my sitemeter but it will just have to wait a while before I feel comfortable about re-installing it. I'm just glad to have gotten my blog back. Anyway, back to the topic of this post.)

A few weeks ago, while sitting in the Sunday morning service, a man spoke who was part of a missions organization. He was excitedly sharing and saying that God is working throughout the world. Well, I got excited too. Of course, I know he was talking about missions and missionaries but my thoughts immediately went to blogging and the internet.

What an exciting medium the internet is for a growing number of free believers who are sharing freedom with others. Tim Kiser in a comment on my Learning to Give Out in the Wild post spoke about a "grassroots movement of freedom." What a marvelous description of what our Daddy is doing! I see it as a group of interconnected circles that are going around the world.

I'm fairly new to this world of blogging. It was only in October or November of last year that I connected with my first blogger, Joel of Grace Roots. That led to connections with other bloggers and, in January, I started my own blog. Since then, I've been introduced to a growing number of bloggers. It's exciting to find new blogs that have been set up by people who are eager to speak and share this wonderful message of God's grace and freedom.

While in religion, we came to believe that there was only one acceptable way to serve God and to share our faith. It could only be done through a local church that was headed by a pastor. The only other alternative was to work for a "para-church" organization with the approval of "your" pastor.

While I'm sure this method has been helpful for some, for others it's been the same as being in a cage. We've been told what we could say and what we couldn't say. We've been told what we could do and what we couldn't do. And, we've been told where we should spend our time and money. Although we followed these rules as best we could, some of us have felt trapped and we've strained against the bars believing that there had to be more than this.

This grassroots movement of freedom is growing and spreading. As more and more people come to understand the message of grace, they are leaving the confines of religion and venturing out into the wild of freedom. Tracy over at The Best Parts has posted an excellent blog describing this life of freedom. She quoted a scripture that I believe beautifully describes the church that is coming out into freedom.

"And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall." (Malachi 4:2b)

What a glorious picture of the joy and excitement as believers are freed from their stalls! I see much of this joy and excitement spilling over into the blogs that I've been reading. We've been held back for so long that now that we're free, this wonderful message of Father's grace has to come out and it's coming out in the form of blogging.

Jesus is building his church. There was a season during which the institutional groups were in the forefront and I don't believe we should despise those groups. While it's true that the religion that tends to pervade them prevented us from coming into the fullness of life in Christ, these groups have been the nursery that protected us while we were infants in the faith.

However, many of us have come to realize that it's now time to leave the security of the nursery and venture out into the wild with Jesus. While this may seem to be a place of danger and insecurity, Jesus has promised that the Holy Spirit will be there to help us navigate through this unknown territory.

What excites me is that I see an ever increasing number of believers who have followed Jesus out into the wild. At times, it may appear as though we're few when compared to the total number of believers throughout the world. However, as more and more believers leave religion, I see the church that Jesus is building becoming a reality. No longer bound by religion, we're more and more being changed into the image of our Father. Now, like the wind, we're free to follow the desires that he has placed on our hearts. (Psalm 37:4)

"The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit." (John 3:8)

22 comments:

Tracy Simmons said...

Aida, this part of your post so struck me: "While I'm sure this method has been helpful for some, for others it's been the same as being in a cage. We've been told what we could say and what we couldn't say. We've been told what we could do and what we couldn't do."

That is so true. Even after many months of blogging (I'm rapidly approaching my #200 post!) I am still surprised by how often I have to remind myself that I am free to saying I want to! I realize how I was so trained within the institution to constantly monitor my thoughts and words since they had to line up with what I was being told was "the truth."

Isn't it glorious when we can finally be so free to discover Truth (as a person no less!) on our own?

You're right: It is exciting. Not only to be part of it, but to watch is spreading like wildfire.

AmyC. said...

Aida,
Great blog...as always! I sooo agree with you! It's been just such a blessing, having only recently discovered Blogland (within the last 2 months) and how many people are leaving religion to join the emerging Church.

It's truly exciting in and of itself, but also be one to discover and share this journey with through Blogging. Although I don't have my own blog (except for the one I have on my MySpace page), I feel quite happy as though I DOOO have one.

I visit quite a few blogs daily (my Feed list is very long up to 35 blogs now). I leave comments, which often turn in to "Comment Dialog." This is so neat.

All being said, this all causes me to feel less alone, and more unified in relationship with others! It's such a gift.

I'm beginning to see how Father is providing me friendships in such avenues that I had never before expected! Blogging is definitely one of them!

~Amy :)

Manuela said...

Amen! There is a whole other world out here, unknown and waiting to be known... for each of us who take a leap. It's scary and exciting all at once...

Joel B. said...

The last church I attended (which my wife is still attending) had something I liked called "The Church Has Left the Building." It was basically a way in which 'the church' was not just contained inside the building for services, but was out in the community interacting with people.

Well, to use that phrase in a different way, I too think it's very exciting to see how "the church has left the building" and is meeting together online. Like you, I know there are people who are doing well within the church system, and I'm happy that they're enjoying the journey God has them on in that type of way. But I'm also very, very glad that God has brought so many of us together in this particular "format" (I use the term loosely, so as not to make this out to be just another institution). :)

For several years I really did feel caged up within the church system. I knew Daddy was using me within that 'cage,' so that helped a great deal in not feeling like I was in too much bondage, but yet I knew I wasn't quite free in my mind. I was able to write articles about God's grace for the church's monthly publication... but yet I really felt like I was stifled in what I truly wanted to say, because of some feathers that might get ruffled. So I was somewhat tame, although pushing the envelope from time to time.

But now, as others have said, I feel a lot freer to say what I really want to say. I'm still growing in opening up as to my true personality, and as to what I really want to share about myself, but the main thing is that I've not felt the pressure to try to conform my writings to please anyone else. For the most part, what you see is what you get, and I just couldn't say that before.

I feel like I'm rambling about all that, but I just want to echo your thoughts about the grass roots movement that is happening. I really think more and more people are finding freedom through new friendships that are being formed through the internet. It's friendships and freedom that they haven't ever been able to find anywhere else. They're finding out who they truly are in Christ, and they're finding that while they once thought that they simply didn't fit into Christ's church, they actually are the church that Jesus is building.

amy said...

I totally agree with what you say here Joel. I always felt like the misfit at IC, and only by leaving it and discovering the world of free believers on the internet did I discover the true friends and freedom I had sought but never found in IC. Thanks Aida for another great blog!

Bino M. said...

Aida,
Great post! I loved the verse from Malachi (Thanks to Tracy). I thought Malachi was written only to point us that if we don't tithe , we are robbing God. Thats all I heard Sunday after Sunday in the church, if I am not tithing, I am robing. Anyways, now I have a reason to read Malachi! When I read that entire verse, it is even more beautiful:

But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall.

'sun of righteousness' [Jesus]! It is a good reminder that no one will be declared righteous by obeying the law, but by the free gift of righteousness from God through Jesus.

And that is a good reason to 'leap like calves released from the stall'.

it's now time to leave the security of the nursery

Absolutely! Paul talks about those who are under the law as 'babes' who are still in need of milk (elementary teachings). It is as we become free from the law, we start maturing (growing)...

Set Free said...

Aida, I am new to your blog and I want to thank you for all that you share. All of the resources and links you give are so helpful. You have such a sweet spirit and I look forward to reading all that write in the future.

Aida said...

Tracy, I catch myself doing the same thing at times. Old habits are hard to break but it's good that we're starting to walk in greater freedom.

It really is exciting to see how this freedom is growing. I always get excited about finding new blogs and websites that are speaking freedom. Jesus is really building his church and it's going to be amazing to see.


Thanks, AmyC.

It really is amazing! I feel more connected to the church through blogging than I ever did sitting in a building.

That's quite a few blogs you check. I only have 17 and I never planned for them to grow to be that many. Of course, some don't post often but I still get behind trying to keep up.

However, I think you still have a ways to go before you beat Joel. I think he's our record holder as far as how many he has in his feed reader. LOL

Blogging has really helped to ease the loneliness. The conversations are good and very encouraging. I always learn something and I'm so thankful for the friends I've met through blogging.

Maybe you'll venture into blogging soon. I really enjoyed your blog on the Lord's Supper. It had a lot of truth in it and helped me to get a better understanding of what it's all about.

Joel B. said...

Haha!... Yeah, I just looked and my feed count is up to 82! However, many (probably most) of them are just ones that are fairly new to me, and over time I plan on weeding them out if they really don't interest me... because that's just too much stuff to read! I basically just skim over those particular ones, and most of them I haven't interacted with and most likely never will. I still mostly stay close to the close community of friends that has been formed over the past year or so.

Aida said...

Manuela, you're right. It's scary at times but it's well worth it. It helps me to know that Father is there to catch me and keep me from falling.

Aida said...

Joel, great comments.

I think your use of the word format is a good one. I really think that's the way it's supposed to be. Jesus using a variety of formats to gather his church together.

When we're under man's authority, we basically have to do things their way. They may give us a long leash but we're still on a leash.

I agree. The freedom I'm finding outside of the system is exhilerating and it's great to connect with others who are also experiencing that freedom.

Aida said...

Thanks for the comment, Amy.

Religion with its emphasis on conformity is set up to make us feel like we're the problem. It's only when we start looking outside of the system that we find out we're not alone. There's a large group of believers who have experienced the same thing and have chosen to break free rather than continue in the status quo.

Aida said...

Bino, you're so funny. I guess that's the only scripture from Malachi that we've ever heard preached and taught in church. They definitely don't want us to read the whole thing because if we read the book of Malachi from the beginning we'll realize the rebuke was given to the priests, the leadership of the people. It was not given to the regular people.

Thanks for your comments, Bino. They're great!! I'm glad you gave us the entire verse. The whole thing is powerful.

BTW, here's another great Malachi scripture that I love. "Then those who feared the Lord, talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. A scroll of remembrance was written in his presence concerning those who feared the Lord and honored his name.

'They will be mine,' says the Lord Almighty, 'in the day when I make up my treasured possession, I will spare them, just as in compassion a man spares his son who serves him.'" (Malachi 3:16-17)

Aida said...

Set Free, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I'm glad you've enjoyed my blog and have found it helpful. Just curious. How did you find it?

I hope you'll stop by again and comment and share whatever Father is speaking to you.

Aida said...

Don't do it, Joel!! Don't weed them out!! Go for 100!! Then we can send your record into Guinness Book of World Records. I'm sure you have them all beat. LOL

Seriously, though, I've been having trouble keeping up with my measly 17 blogs so I understand your problem. Most don't post very much so they're no problem. It's mostly our chatty group of blogging friends that I have trouble keeping up with. I love reading everyone's blogs and there's so much wisdom be shared that I don't want to miss anything.

Since I go back to work next Tuesday, I'll have to figure out a better system than I have now since I'll have a whole lot less time for blogging.

Joel B. said...

Aida,

I have a few teacher friends, and it's weird to interact with them during their free summer months vs. the rest of the year when their schedules are so very different! And in my case, things are kind of the opposite. I don't go to work until the afternoon, so during the summer my mornings are busy due to the activity of my kids. But during the school year I have the 'freedom' of time to myself! Anyway, I'm hoping the upcoming year will be a great one for you!

Aida said...

Joel, I didn't think about your children being home. That must be why you seem to have been less active the last few months.

My school district blocks out blogger so I can't check it during the day. Yours is the only blog I can check at work since I can go through your website but I can't read the comments.

I really have enjoyed the summer. Daddy has done some really neat things through the community of bloggers that I've connected with as well as other online friends. I'm really going to miss the freedom but I guess it'll be good to get back to work.

Thanks for the good wishes. I appreciate them.

Free Spirit said...

Yes!! It's utterly beautiful!!
I'm finding so much more life outside of religion's bars (and I'm not talkin' 'bout the places people go to get drinks). Great post!! What the Spirit can build far exceeds our man-made attempts!!!

Aida said...

Free Spirit posted a comment which for some reason is not showing up here so first I'll post her comment before I respond. She wrote:

"Yes!! It's utterly beautiful!!
I'm finding so much more life outside of religion's bars (and I'm not talkin' 'bout the places people go to get drinks). Great post!! What the Spirit can build far exceeds our man-made attempts!!!"

That is so true! It's going to be exciting to see what the church that he's building will look like in the future as we become freer and freer to be that church without all of the restrictions man has put on us.

Utterly beautiful is a wonderful description!

Aida said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Aida said...

Free Spirit posted a comment which for some reason is not showing up here so first I'll post her comment before I respond. She wrote:

"Yes!! It's utterly beautiful!!
I'm finding so much more life outside of religion's bars (and I'm not talkin' 'bout the places people go to get drinks). Great post!! What the Spirit can build far exceeds our man-made attempts!!!"

That is so true! It's going to be exciting to see what the church that he's building will look like in the future as we become freer and freer to be that church without all of the restrictions man has put on us.

Utterly beautiful is a wonderful description!

Aida said...

I was having a problem with comments not being posted so I removed a widget and the comments have been released so I'm getting really suspicious of these widgets. I'm getting a little paranoid about all of this but it looks like the problem has been fixed.