Faith is our substance, the hope of His plans for us. Yet without proper direction it can be a self made stumbling block rather than leading us to Christ. My son doesn’t fear the things that I’ve explained to him; he fears the unknown, imagined bad guys of stories and fables. He fears the big bad wolf hiding in his room because daddy cannot show proof of it leaving, since it never existed. Yet the loudest power tool in my hands as I show him how it’s intended to be used instills awe and some adventure, as he knows I would never allow something to harm him. I hold the power to either build a sense of wonder into my son or a sense of fear. So when I tell you I have seen this very thing inside the churches I was raised in, those of us that preached there used it well. We would use fear to get obedience from the faithful. See when someone has faith in what you say, hope in what you preach, there better be a substance there, otherwise you’re just selling snake oil.
“…fail on one thing, and see what happens, the Spirit will leave you right there. That’s what’s happened to our churches, failed.” 64-1212 – The Harvest Time – William Marrion Branham
I lived my life worried that God would be around every corner ready to strike on my short comings instantly. It didn’t matter how many times I looked under the proverbial bed and saw that the Bible held no monsters for me. When I sat in the pew and listened to the sermons, I was taught to fear myself. My sins would limit what God could do in my situation, hinder the prayers of not just myself but those around me, and cost the church the revival we sought. I was walking on eggshells rather than experiencing the freedom Christ provides. When Proverbs 15:29 or John 9:31 came across the pulpit or in the pastor’s study it was not to show us how close and near our God was to those that love Him. It was to make sure we knew that a single misstep might separate us from our redeemer.
When I was worried more about the approval of my pastor, rather than that of my Heavenly Father, I jumped through any hoop put in front of me. The Bride is in the pew reverently thirty minutes early? No problem. Tithes is required, but the blessings really come with giving beyond 10%. Anything for God and His church.We can all look back and cringe at the things done in the name of the church. I remember reading about the Children of Israel and thinking how on earth could they fall for that, all while wandering my own wilderness claiming to hear from God directly. Consider this. The fruits of the spirit are not tithe paying, attendance, dress codes, recruitment, etc. In fact the closer, we get to God it says the fewer laws needed at all. The gift Christ gave was to all freely: no terms and conditions, no middle men, no mark up.