Posts tagged Christ
Guest Post: I Hate Church







A friend of mine shared this blog post on Facebook this week. I was so blessed by reading it that I just had to share it. The author, Andrew Alleyne, runs his blog at andrewalleyne.com. Enjoy!



I Hate Church

If you’ve seen me preach in the last few months you might have noticed a bit of a change in my attire. Instead of a nice pair of jeans and a blazer you might have noticed my hat worn backwards coupled with earrings in my ears. What I’m about to share with you is the reason why.

My wife and I have made a habit of randomly showing love to strangers wherever we go. It could be a waiter/waitress at a restaurant we’re visiting or a homeless person on the street asking for money. We’re not always the most consistent with this, but we have quite a few stories we could share. One of these stories is about this time when we decided to go on an adventure downtown and we saw this beautiful young lady sitting on the ground asking for money. Immediately we were moved with compassion and decided to invite her to come with us to get something to eat and then proceeded to give her some money. While we were sitting down getting to know this amazing young lady it came out that we were Pastors and she went on to mention how there have been times when she’s walked into a church and people have simply stared at her because of her piercings, tattoos, and how she was dressed, ultimately making her not want to immerse herself in that kind of an environment.

Another time I had the incredible opportunity to share the gospel with 100+ bikers inside of a Walmart Parking-Lot. Closer to 80% made decisions to do life with Jesus, but then afterwards several of them came up to me and made statements like “I would never step foot inside of a church, but I would come to your church,” or “I’m not welcomed in churches,” etc. Keep in mind many of these guys and girls were saying they came from pretty hard backgrounds and if I can be stereotypical for a moment, they also looked like it.

Then I would hear outrageous statistics about abortion rates within the church and how studies have shown that abortion is highest where religion is highest… (insert screeching car sound effect here). Say what??? How does that happen? I thought church was supposed to be a safe place. I’d walk through downtown Toronto and see “Christians” on street corners yelling at people with signs in their hands telling them they’re going to hell. I’d even engage a few of them in conversations asking them how effective they’re evangelism attempts had been, often times they didn’t have much fruit to speak of. I’d get into conversations with young people in bars about me being a Christian and at first I was written off because of their previous experiences/encounters with people who profess Christ.

Fast forward a few months and my wife and I find ourselves deciding to visit some prominent churches in our city, as well as churches that we have preached at in the past. She would wear a mini-skirt, I would wear some baggy jeans with a hat put on backwards, with big diamond earrings in my ears, and we would pretend like we didn’t know much about how “church worked.” In almost every single church no one would say hi to us, people would simply stare at us, I had people in services tap me on my shoulder and tell me to take my hat off… Some of my Pastor friends didn’t even recognize it was me and were absolutely shocked when I revealed myself. All in all… most places left me not wanting to ever come back. I remember in one service I couldn’t even focus on the message because I was so infuriated as to how this one lady treated me. I wanted to tell her I’m an ordained minister and read off my rap sheet out of some misplaced sense of pride, but I managed to keep it together. Then I got it.

I began to understand why an entire generation can feel more loved and welcomed in a club than in a church. We preach revival, we talk about the harvest, but how many Christians are really stepping into the dark places of our city and shining their lights? How many Christians only have “Christian” friends, go to “Christian” events, and speak “Christianeze.” Are churches really ready for the day the prostitute walks into church after she just finished her night shift? Or when the back of the church smells like weed because broken people are coming in through the doors? Or the day when they can’t leave their purse on their seat during worship because that visitor might just steal their wallet? For the first time as a minister of the gospel I poorly attempted to put my feet in the shoes of “non-christians” and I confess… I would have probably written off church/organized religion if I wasn’t already a Christian.

I think Ghandi said it best, “I would have become a Christian until I met one.” The will of God is always displayed in Jesus but not always in his followers. We as Christians do a really good job of screwing that up. It’s as though church has become about good meetings and good music, and unless you look like, talk like, and act like me, then we cannot walk together, be seen together, or hang out. We’ve created this movement, this culture that is so anti the very world we are called to reach. We’ve demonized celebrities, stepped out of society, and we’re afraid to come close to “darkness.” Show me Jesus in that. Can you imagine if they had social media in Jesus’ day? Instagram, facebook, or twitter? Someone would have taken a picture of a prostitute washing Jesus’ feet and someone would have posted it online and it would be an absolute media frenzy. Jesus wasn’t afraid to touch that which was unclean, sit with sinners, or be their friends. By the way, I’m pretty sure he dressed like a modern Jew in his time.

Now… I don’t hate church, and not all churches in Toronto are like the churches I described in this blog. This is just a title to catch people’s attention. I love church. I find myself falling in love with this awesome church plant downtown called C3 Toronto. A church filled with broken people, who don’t have it all together, but genuinely love Jesus and are allowing him to transform their lives and the lives of those around them. I’ve realized that some of the sweetest worship doesn’t come from the most perfect people, but from some of the most broken people who need him the most. I’m not sure where the invisible wall we’ve created in churches that says “unless you act like us and dress like us, you don’t belong,” but it’s so far from anything I see in the life of Jesus. This blog isn’t an attempt to bash churches, or speak negatively of organized religion, but to some of my friends who are Pastors, I hope it’s more of a challenge. When we preach this message of unconditional love do we live it when people step through our doors? When was the last time we decided to go and hang out where the “Zacchaeus’” of our day hang out? Would we even go to their home if they invited us? This is why some of my modern day heroes are guys like Carl Lentz, the pastor of Hillsong Church in New York City, who we just had the privilege of visiting during our stay in New York. Thousands of misfits, x-gangsters, celebrities, hipsters, gather together for 7 services in rented out clubs right in the hub of the concrete jungle. He’s got alot of haters, but religious people always despise people who do things they are afraid to do. I’ve gotten emails from people and had conversations with individuals who think I’m crazy, are concerned with the way I dress, and I find myself feeling a bit more like Jesus, and to me they’re beginning to look alot more like Pharisees :s.

Something has to change in our city. Before revival comes to a city or region, God puts his finger first on the church. I hear people say “we’re waiting on God” but I believe God is waiting on the church. To all those who wouldn’t consider themselves Christians and are reading this post, on behalf of the church, I want to apologize for the way you’ve been treated. I hope that our actions don’t serve as a barrier that stop you from being able to receive the authentic and unconditional love of Jesus. You are loved, you are wanted, and you belong. To the Christians reading this post, take a look inwards and evaluate your life. Your city needs you to communicate and display the truth in love. If it is truth without love it isn’t the truth, and it isn’t the gospel.
"How Adventists are Blessed by Other Christians"



Below is a guest post written by Seventh-day Adventist pastor, Martin Weber. His website www.sdaforme.com (where this blog is published) is an excellent resource of SDA apologetic's. I think Weber hits the nail on the head on this one. I hope you are as blessed as I was!
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Christmas season draws together brothers and sisters in Christ from all denominations to celebrate our common faith. Despite doctrinal differences, believers around the world unite in appreciation for the gift of our Savior. However, some Christians feel duty-bound to abstain from such inclusive fellowship. They imagine that interfaith interaction betrays their own biblical distinctiveness. I regret that more than a few of my fellow Seventh-day Adventists fall into that exclusivist mindset.

Invariably they quote Ellen G. White in holding themselves aloof from fellowship with the larger Christian community. It’s true that Ellen White initially was a separatist who shared the “shut door” mentality of ex-Millerite Sabbatarians. But as she matured in her theology over the years, she extended herself into connectivity with the wider Christian community. (This is an aspect of her ministry strangely overlooked by most of her fervent followers.) 

For example, in the 1880s Ellen White joined forces with the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, a group of Protestant prohibitionists. She spoke at their rallies and even recommended that some of our best Adventist talent should work for that organization.

In 1892, she braved much criticism from narrow-minded Adventist brethren when she entrusted her signature book,Steps to Christ, to non-Seventh-day Adventists for initial publication. Few today are aware that she contracted with Dwight Moody’s brother-in-law, Fleming Revel, to print that treasured book. 

Even her controversial “borrowing” from non-Adventist authors, in writing her later books, is a form of collaboration with Christians outside our denomination. The enemies of Ellen White allege plagiarism, while her friends point out that copyright standards back then were much more relaxed than they are today. Lost amid this arguing is the undeniable reality that Ellen White thought so highly of non-Adventist theologians and historians that she incorporated their insights—not just their language—into her own books. This amazing fact is highly instructive for Adventists today who wish to quarantine themselves from Christians outside our denomination.

Many of my exclusivist Adventist friends want Sabbath worship services to include only songs from the official SDA Hymnal, to preserve denominational distinctiveness. I’m wondering . . . do they realize how many songs in the SDA Hymnal were composed by non-Adventists (including contemporaries of our good brother Dwight Moody—the most popular Sunday-keeping preacher in Ellen White’s day)? Think of it! Every time we hold Sabbath services, we are effectively welcoming non-Adventist influences into our worship. 
Like it or not, we are one body in Christ with fellow believers of the larger faith community. Thus I’m dismayed and ashamed that some influential Adventists are restricting fellow Christians from speaking at our youth rallies, women’s groups and other church meetings. No matter how sincere their concerns, I believe they are guilty of the inconsistencies already cited here regarding worship music and the example of Ellen White. Moreover, I fear they are quenching God’s Spirit, who operates throughout the general body of Christ. They also limit the sovereignty of God, who exercises His right to anoint anyone He chooses for ministry, whether or not he (or she) carries Seventh-day Adventist credentials. And so God is blessing the songs, sermons and books of many Christians outside our Adventist community.
Some may wonder: “Well then, if God is working everywhere, why should I be a Seventh-day Adventist?” Because this is the only denomination on earth where we don’t have to sacrifice biblical convictions that are dear to us. All Seventh-day Adventist doctrines—when (and only when) they are interpreted properly—are special truths about Jesus for these last days. 
That said, I affirm again that God is alive and well throughout the general Christian community. Despite the exclusive mentality of some Adventists, there is much benefit to keeping our minds and hearts open to the ministry of faithful people outside our community. Just as Ellen White was enriched by fellow Christians (Sunday-keepers!), Adventists today may be likewise blessed.
Speaking personally, the folks at Logos Bible Software are dear to me and friendly to Adventists (they recently published the digitized version of Andrews Study Bible). My friend Pete Heineger at Logos told me that he attended a meeting at Saddleback Community Church where Rick Warren affirmed all the good Seventh-day Adventists are doing in Africa through medical missionary work. Warren’s books Purpose Driven Life and Purpose Driven Church have been a major blessing to me. So have books by other non-Adventists such as Phillip Yancey and Lee Strobel (The Case for a Creator, etc.). Every evening while driving home from work, I listen to Chip Ingram’s “Living On the Edge” broadcast—nobody explains Christian living to me better than he does. I get his podcasts on my iPhone along with “Just Thinking” from Ravi Zacharias, perhaps Christianity’s finest advocate against atheism and secularism. Although I can’t agree with everything I hear from these esteemed fellow believers, neither do we Adventists see everything alike.
If you remain unconvinced that fellow Christians have anything good to offer Seventh-day Adventists, I’ll let you borrow my scissors so you can get to work on the official SDA Hymnal.[1] And while you’re clipping away, maybe you can explain why Ellen White collaborated with non-Seventh-day Adventists whose descendants some of us feel we must shun.
- Martin Weber, How Adventists are Blessed by Other Christians. www.sdaforme.com

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[1] The SDA Hymnal contains songs written by both pre-reformation (Catholic) and post-reformation (Protestant) believers most of whom held theological views that are antithetical to SDA doctrines. (Footnote supplied by Marcos Torres, www.Jesusadventismandi.com)
Ellen G. White on Legalism
photo credit: Daniel*1977 via photopin cc
Having grown up Christian and walked by the borders of legalism for too long, the issue of salvation, grace, and assurance are among my favorite topics to discuss. For those of you who don't know, legalism is the belief that you can earn salvation by how good you are. The problem is, you never feel you are good enough. This teaching is in direct opposition to what the Bible teaches about salvation  - that it is a free gift given by God and cannot be earned by human performance. Though many Christians would never say they are legalistic many live the lifestyle of a legalist. This lifestyle is characterized by rigid moralism, strict and often nonsensical rules, and a lack of joy and assurance in ones Christian experience. The following are some quotes by Ellen G. White, one of the founders of Adventism, on the topic of legalism. Though many have accused her of being legalistic, these quotes help to see what she really thought about the concept of performance based religion. I hope they bless you as much as they blessed me. 

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Eph 2:8-9)
Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (2Ti 1:9)
Our Own Works Can Never Purchase Salvation: A legal religion can never lead souls to Christ; for it is a loveless, Christless religion. Fasting or prayer that is actuated by a self-justifying spirit is an abomination in the sight of God. The solemn assembly for worship, the round of religious ceremonies, the external humiliation, the imposing sacrifice, proclaim that the doer of these things regards himself as righteous, and as entitled to heaven; but it is all a deception. Our own works can never purchase salvation.  {DA 280.2}

There Is No Safety For One Who Has Merely A Legal Religion: The fountain of the heart must be purified before the streams can become pure. He who is trying to reach heaven by his own works in keeping the law is attempting an impossibility. There is no safety for one who has merely a legal religion, a form of godliness. The Christian's life is not a modification or improvement of the old, but a transformation of nature. There is a death to self and sin, and a new life altogether. This change can be brought about only by the effectual working of the Holy Spirit.  {DA 172.1} 

The One Great Offering… Has Been Made: A legal religion has been thought quite the correct religion for this time. But it is a mistake. The rebuke of Christ to the Pharisees is applicable to those who have lost from the heart their first love. A cold, legal religion can never lead souls to Christ; for it is a loveless, Christless religion… Works will not buy for us an entrance into heaven. The one great Offering that has been made is ample for all who will believe. The love of Christ will animate the believer with new life. {1SM 388.1}

Christ, Our Only Hope: The spirit of bondage is engendered by seeking to live in accordance with legal religion, through striving to fulfill the claims of the law in our own strength. There is hope for us only as we come under the Abrahamic covenant, which is the covenant of grace by faith in Christ Jesus. The gospel preached to Abraham, through which he had hope, was the same gospel that is preached to us today, through which we have hope. Abraham looked unto Jesus, who is also the Author and the Finisher of our faith (YI Sept. 22, 1892).  {6BC 1077.7} 

Firm as a Rock: Legal religion will not answer for this age. We may perform all the outward acts of service and yet be as destitute of the quickening influence of the Holy Spirit as the hills of Gilboa were destitute of dew and rain. We all need spiritual moisture, and we need also the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness to soften and subdue our hearts. We are always to be as firm as a rock to principle. Bible principles are to be taught and then backed up by holy practice.  {6T 417.3} 

Dear Brother M: Brother M, you have not taken a judicious course with your family. Your children do not love you. They have more hatred than love. Your wife does not love you. You do not take a course to be loved. You are an extremist. You are severe, exacting, arbitrary, to your children. You talk the truth to them, but do not carry its principles into your everyday life. You are not patient, forbearing, and forgiving. You have so long indulged your own spirit, you are so ready to fly into a passion if provoked, that it looks exceedingly doubtful whether you will make efforts sufficient to meet the mind of Christ. You do not possess the power of endurance, forbearance, gentleness, and love. These Christian graces must be possessed by you before you can be truly a Christian. You cannot in your own strength put away your errors and wrongs; they have been increasing upon you for years, because you have not seen them in their hideousness and in the strength of God resolutely put them away. By living faith you must lay hold on an arm that is mighty to save. Humble your poor, proud, self-righteous heart before God; get low, very low, all broken in your sinfulness at His feet. Devote yourself to the work of preparation. Rest not until you can truly say: My Redeemer liveth, and, because He lives, I shall live also. {2T 88.1}

If you would gather together everything that is good: If you would gather together everything that is good and holy and noble and lovely in man and then present the subject to the angels of God as acting a part in the salvation of the human soul or in merit, the proposition would be rejected as treason.{FW 24.1}

Christ for our sakes became poor: Christ for our sakes became poor, that we through His poverty might be made rich. And any works that man can render to God will be far less than nothingness. My requests are made acceptable only because they are laid upon Christ’s righteousness. The idea of doing anything to merit the grace of pardon is fallacy from beginning to end. “Lord, in my hand no price I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling.” {FW 24.2}

When men learn they cannot earn righteousness:  When men learn they cannot earn righteousness by their own merit of works, and they look with firm and entire reliance upon Jesus Christ as their only hope, there will not be so much of self and so little of Jesus. Souls and bodies are defiled and polluted by sin, the heart is estranged from God, yet many are struggling in their own finite strength to win salvation by good works. Jesus, they think, will do some of the saving; they must do the rest. They need to see by faith the righteousness of Christ as their only hope for time and for eternity. {FW 25.3}





Sources

Ellen White (CD Rom)

egwdatabase.whiteestate.org