May 9, 2007

The Religious Substrate: The Idol Operating Behind The Scenes At Church

The definition of substrate: The material or substance on which an enzyme acts. A surface on which an organism grows or is attached. An underlying layer; a substratum.

Jesus on one occasion warned a group of teachers and Pharisees, the latter an intolerant teaching religious sect of his day, that they had heaven shut up. He added that they were not going into the kingdom and that they were preventing others from entering into the kingdom. He went on to say that they would cross land and sea to make one convert, and then 'make him into twice the son of hell' as they were already. Matthew 23:13-15. What a terrible inditement!

The Apostle Peter in his second epistle 'to those who had obtained like faith as the Apostles had' warned, that some among them were being brought back into bondage by those who were claiming to have helped to liberate them from the bondage of sin. And therefore, instead of being 'free in Christ', they were instead being re-enslaved by and to the ones who purported to have helped to deliver them from original bondage.

They found themselves in bondage, as well as debtors to their new captors, in effect owing them, instead of Christ, their time, finances and allegiances. Peter added, that it would been better if they had never known the right way to live than to know it and then reject the holy commandments that were given to them. 2 Peter 3:21.

Finally, the Prophet Jeremiah warned that among my people are wicked men who lie in wait for victims like a hunter hiding in a blind. They are continually setting traps for other people. Like a cage filled with birds, their homes are filled with evil plots. Jeremiah 5: 26 -27.

1). How can this be?
2). Have you suspected, or experienced anything like this happening at your place of worship?
3). Were you one of the those who came to Christ and subsequently became a part of a fellowship of believers, and just as suddenly found yourself again in the grips of bondage to some pastor, preacher, prophet teacher or organization who had you under the impression that they were there to help foster your growth in Christ, when on the other hand they took over your life, your wallet, your spouse or your time?
4). Is there an anonymous or sub-anonymous layer operating at the church that you attend or are anticipating becoming a part of, and do you know anything about the sub-layer and the impacts that it can have on you as a Christian?
5). Are you a part of a group that has heaven shut up?
6). Does your religious group 'catch men and women', and prevent them from ever truly rising to God's will.

With respect to church denominationalism, I consider myself agnostic. For being a member of God's body gives me kinship with every church that God ordained, and therefore kinship with all of the members of Christ's body on earth.

I discovered in the past that existing within bonafide mainstream church groups, one could find himself enslaved to a sometimes invisible sub-layer that members of the church weren't even aware that existed; they were not even aware of its formidable power within the organization that they were a part of, usually until it was too late.

Many times the true power of the organization, and the organizational structure itself wrests within and is driven by this sub-layer, in spite of all appearances to the contrary. In effect 'the church' is used as a lure to draw unwitting individuals, who are seeking Christ, into a hidden organization that has an agenda all of its own - usually some kind of personal empowerment by its hierarchy of leaders. The latter can and will place a burden on the members of the organization, that Jesus Christ never intended for his followers. And, the underlying layer is responsible for preventing disciples from ever reaching their true potential in Christ. The real motives of the organization in the long run are usually at odds with the teachings of Christ.

Praxis: This sub-layer operates, comcomittantly, with established church creeds and teachings. And at times it operates as 'a wheel in the middle of a wheel', holding more sway over church members than God does. Many church members looking back, have been stunned once what they realized what they had been part of in the past (having believed that they were members of a Church group that was sanctioned by and fully submitted to Christ). These individuals discovered that it was the substratum within their religous organization that actually took precedence over the teachings of Jesus Christ. They found new meaning in the scriptures that read, "...come out from among them and be seperated...", and, the blind being led by the blind.

Anecdotally, I suggested on one occasion that all of God's children, should go and join every church that they could find. Whenever I visit a church that is of God, I am already a member. I never stand up when I attend a church and they ask for visitors to stand, and on those few occasions when I was forced to stand up, I explained that I saw myself as more of a guest than a visitor. If nothing else, by joining every church, it would attenuate the notion that some pastors have that the church is theirs, and the members of their flocks are their 'personal slaves'. Having said that, all pastors are not guilty of this charge. I have never been accused of being a 'slave pastor'.

This whole substrate phenonenom that exists in our religious organizations today, reminds me of a story recorded in the old testatment, where the pagan holders of the Ark of the Covenant did not know what to do with it. So what did they do with it? They carried and placed the Ark in the spiritual house alonside one of their own deities, Dagon. In one sense they did the logical thing by bringing the Ark into a religious setting. However, they did not understand that the things of God and the things of an idol simply do not mix!

Many religious organizations today have sat up their idols; self-devised teachings, manmade organizations, syncretic ideas, organizational teachings, creeds and structures; controlling and celebrity preachers right up inside the church, alongside Jesus Christ. And at times, Jesus Christ is less important than their manmade, personal or organizational representations, teachings and creeds. In effect, they teach God's people to unwittingly worship, and be subject to 'the idol' which they have created or supported!

Who is truly in control of the narrative where you worship? Who really controls the power and the direction of the church where you attend? Perhaps you are, wittingly or unwittingly, a part of the substrate, an enzyme that is causing havoc to be piled onto your brothers and sisters in Christ at your place of worship. Perhaps you have helped to set up an idol substrate/construct at your place of worship. The Apostle Paul was once guilty of doing the same, that is until God turned him around on the road to Damascus!

What agreement hath the temple of God with Idols? 1 Cor. 6:16.

Peace & grace
Rev C. Solomon

To be continued....

No comments: