By CJ Hines
I had a conversation with a woman a while ago who was looking for a new home church. She didn't elaborate on why she left hers but she had visited a few in the area. She made the comment that she hadn't yet found a church's doctrine that she liked.
She wanted the church's doctrine to fit her values and lifestyle. Isn't that backward thinking? We are to follow God’s Word—not fashion God's Word into what fits our life. As Pastor John says, we don't get to pick and choose the parts of the Bible that fit our life, then forget the rest.
But some churches don’t abide by that—that’s the main reason there are so many different religions and so many off-shoots of religions. I know of people who were offended by a pastor's preaching (never mind that the preaching was biblically based) and left their home church. If they couldn't find that 'perfect religion,' they would start their own church, establishing their own doctrine.
Years ago when I worked for a regional newspaper, I became acquainted with the rabbi of the local Jewish temple. He said when we arrive in heaven, there won’t be a section for Catholics, Jews, Methodists, Lutherans, Baptists, etc. Religion isn’t God-made; it’s manmade. We all belong to one family—God’s family, and as such, God desires a deep, intimate relationship with Him, not with rules established by a specific religion. We are to be more in love with the Creator than the created.
Remember the Pharisees in Matthew 23? Jesus chided them for following rules rather than following God; "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside are full of hypocrisy and wickedness" (v27-28).
Please don’t misunderstand—I’m not calling anyone hypocritical or wicked. But it could be a dangerous road to travel if following religious doctrine or searching for that ‘perfect religion’ becomes more important than following God.
As Easter nears and we celebrate and the Ultimate Gift of Jesus' resurrection, I pray we all may embrace this truth.