A quick thread by which I hope to pique your interest on the purpose & potential of true religion, which is, as the Apostle James said:
James 1:27. “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep
oneself from being polluted by the world.
What does this mean other than what it says? Religion is not fundamentally about the way we gather, hear teachings, and worship - it is principally
noted as being extant where CHARITABLE ACTION is taking place - essentially, a definition would read:
"True Religion = Caring for those who are unable to care for themselves due to unavoidable hardships that they have no control over, specifically we
are to act swiftly to mitigate the suffering of those who are in emotional, spiritual & personal distress - and remaining in purity/righteousness
while living in the world.."
If that is religion, then 'true church' is a different, yet related thing - it is a set of customs which have grown up around the recommendations of
Christ Himself, and the Apostles of the first century AD, later winnowed & distilled by the early church fathers (who got some things wrong), and much
of the corruption of the medieval church was corrected, or at least improved, by the reformation & the development of the Protestant church. There is
only one Roman church, but there are 8,000 Anglican/Protestant denominations, which should perhaps tell you something about the valdity of each. The
Roman church remains corrupted in several principal & glaringly obvious areas. The Protestant denominations all largely confess the exact same set of
beliefs based on the Nicene Creed, but the style of the buildings, the ministers, the worship services & the outreach all varies according with
personal preference. I don't know much about the Lutheran church but it is rather similar to typical Anglicanism apparently.
The original Apostles recommended hierarchical organisation, teaching ministry, prophetic ministry, intercessory ministry, evangelism ministry, and so
on. They recommended singing all types of spiritual song together, and they recommended seeking to abide in the presence of God. That has led us to
the various types of worship experience which are extant today. These practices are 'church', and I have already defined 'religion'.
So you basically find yourself a church that suits you, and you volunteer amongst the needy, and voila, you have the basis of a living & active
Christian faith. But you also need one other thing, if at all possible, and this is what Jesus called the Pearl of Great Price, for which the trader
sold all his other pearls simply to purchase this one true prize - it is a living & active relationship with God the Father, God the Son, God the
Spirit.. Yes, the Trinity is complicated. No, I haven't fully understood it. The Father seems remote from my understanding at times, but that is
seemingly a natural state of affairs, as the Son must reveal the Father at the appropriate time, and I seem to be receiving revelation piecemeal. I
have suffered from a wrong understanding of the Father in the past, where I felt that He was always watching me, ready to catch me out when I screwed
something up. Intellectually, I know this is false, and my signature line reminds me of that fact, whether or not you hold the apocrypha to be useful
- some of them, I do, others, are heretical. Be careful & discern what you're reading. Moving on, I believe I have a reasonable understanding &
experience of the Holy Spirit, often felt through worship, prayer, meditation, and a strong 'witness' to certain actions or decisions, or pieces of
Scripture that I am supposed to focus on in a given situation, etc. Thankfully, I am convinced also that the Son is near to me, abiding with me at
all times, "an ever-present help in times of trouble". I find that the major part of my meditation is upon His likeness, to be conformed to the
pattern He has laid down for my heart & character.
And so, we have true religion, and we have true protestant-centric church (though naturally God loves Catholics too - just slightly less).
The title of the thread "To live is Christ; to die is gain". I chose that title because I wanted you to know, if you are on the fence about religion,
church & God, that it is a grand adventure, and if you participate, and you find a church which is living & active by the 'anointing' of the Holy
Spirit, you will find a grand adventure, an incredible fusion of intellectual, emotional & deep spiritual sustenance. Working with those in need, in
a charitable manner, will enhance your experience of life, and will give great joy & thankfulness to others, potentially also helping them along the
road to the point where they too sign on for the great adventure (though you should never consider the needy as less simply because they haven't
bought into what we're promoting, obviously). Everyone comes along the road in their own time, and hopefully they can see the truth for themselves as
early as possible, so they can spend even more time in this life enjoying & growing throughout the grand adventure.
And once it's done, this living business? Well, I have died in my dreams at least five times, and I can tell you that God is faithful, that to pass
from this earth & find yourself in His presence, is an unfathomable wonder, grace, blessing & joy. To live is Christ, being near to Him in joy &
suffering - to die is gain, because we are freed from all sadness & suffering, able to enjoy an eternal Heaven which is beyond our vast imaginations
(& our imaginations are pretty good by design!) Everything we ever wanted to experience, unparalelled nearness to God, connecting with all your
'friendship soulmates', vast landscapes, worlds, universes ~
1 Corinthians 2:9
That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who
Join the adventure!
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
edit on MarchFriday2113CDT09America/Chicago-050010 by FlyInTheOintment because: clarification