“Get in the box God”By Stan Butler
Lately, it seems I’m having more conversations with people who lay claim to the title of being a Christian (literally: follower of Christ), but during the course of the conversation when I ask, “Where do you attend church,” they reply, “Oh, I don’t go to church. I’m not religious, but I consider myself very spiritual.” They want no claim or affiliation to “organized religion” even though the scriptures mention the term “religion” five times and the term “religious” twice, and each and every time in a positive context.
And why wouldn’t the Lord’s church be organized, and in fact, well organized? There are leadership roles to be filled, services to be held, missions to be tended to, prayers to be offered, unified singing and teachings to take place, and much more. All this is to be accomplished in an orderly and organized manner in which the leaders will be held accountable for overseeing.
These “independent” but not religious Christians find the Bible to be a perfect instruction book only when they egregiously reinterpret it and force it to fit their own theology. As long as God is in their box, they feel at ease with their situation. But when shown that they in fact need to get into God’s box…they balk. They insist that church attendance is not necessary to have a relationship with and/or to please God. I find that scripture teaches to the contrary. Let’s put to the test if a person can fulfill God’s wishes by setting in a boat somewhere on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning “at one with the Creator,” or sitting on a back patio with a good cup of coffee and their Bible, or some other like scenario instead of being in a church assembly with other Christians on the Lord’s Day.
For starters, in Hebrews 10:25; we read, “Not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together.” This statement alone should be reason enough to silence all excuses, reasonings, and alibis for not being in a fellowship with other Christians on the Lord’s Day. How many times does God have to say something before we are to believe it? It is written in the form of a command, not a request, but here is where these “independent Christians” start saying, “Get in the box God.”
For the most part, they just ignore Hebrews 10:25 as though the passage doesn’t exist. They tell others how much they love and serve God…they just fail to mention how they live in total disobedience to many of the commands that are in His Covenant, and so in their disobedience, they defiantly tell the Almighty… “Get in the box God.” The usual excuse for not attending church is that they don’t want to worship with hypocrites. This excuse doesn’t hold a lot of water because these “independent Christians” buy their gas at the same service stations, buy their food at the same grocery stores, and dine out in the same restaurants these hypocrites do. Some even work directly with them in the work place. They mingle and manage to live with them six days a week in every scenario imaginable but can’t tolerate to worship with them for a couple hours on the Lord’s Day. Perhaps the God in their box will have a special place in heaven just for them where they can spend eternity away from all the fellowship and jubilant rejoicing of the forgiven saints who were once “hypocrites” but washed in the blood of the Lamb.
Many of these “independent Christians” have been lied to, lied about, been wrongfully accused, mistreated, abused, had their reputation harmed and decided to separate themselves from “organized” religion. I have had every instance mentioned above happen to me. I felt like leaving and getting as far as I could from “these” people, but keep in mind that “these” people are God’s elect even though imperfect. So let’s look at what God has to say about these situations and the reasons I had to “buck up” and remain in His box:
Matthew 6:15; "If you forgive not men their trespasses neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." This scripture doesn’t exist for them, because these “independent Christians” believe that they are being forgiven on a daily basis even though they have not forgiven those that have trespassed them. “Get in the box God.”
Matthew 5:44; "Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you." “Independent Christians” need to start loving, blessing, and praying for those they feel have wronged them. Putting distance between themselves and an “organized religion” problem while expecting God to love, bless and answer their prayers is just another way of saying, “Get in the box God.”
Jesus commanded throughout the New Covenant that we Christians “Love one another.” How is it showing love to separate and refuse to fellowship with the body of Christ? How would your immediate earthly family feel if you were to say you love them, but refuse to fellowship with them at family gatherings? Actions speak much louder than words. “Get in the box God.”
Here is a short and incomplete list of things which God mandates that an “independent Christian” should do but cannot fulfill by absenting themselves from church services:
Hebrews 10:25; exhort one another. “Get in the box God."
Acts 20:7; take Communion with others. “Get in the box God.”
Acts 2:42; fellowship with others. “Get in the box God.”
Acts 2:42; be steadfast as a part of the body of Christ. “Get in the box God.”
1 Corinthians 16:1; bring ones gifts as God has prospered. “Get in the box God.”
Acts 2:42; join others in prayer. “Get in the box God.”
Colossians 3:16; teach and admonish one another through singing. “Get in the box God.”
The list could go on and on. I think you can see the harm they do to themselves and the body of Christ by their act of sovereignty. Where would the church be if everyone followed their example of separation? They worship and serve a God…but it’s a God of their own making, NOT the God of the Bible. There is just no defense for one of His followers to separate themselves from a body of other imperfect believers and attempting to be a church in/of/and by themselves. Throughout the New Covenant there are mentions of churches in various cities in the first century and no mention that anyone has the right to separate because of hurt feelings and other frivolous reasons.
God has given us His instruction on worship, and we are instructed to worship Him as a church (assembly) on the first day of every week. He tells us as both leaders and individuals how to deal with any problems that arise. To venture off and declare ourselves sovereign from His body (the church) is to manufacture a God of our own making, and He has told us that we are to have no other Gods but Him, and on His terms. Any attempt to make Him something that He is not is to say, I’ve got a box over here God and you’ll fit in it very nicely…now “Get in the box God.”
I wish to express my gratitude to Michael, a “brother in Covenant”, who is my corrective grammarian.