Excerpt from Recover Your Good Heart by Jim Robbins
John’s Story (Not me, though it could be)
My first experience in Christian fellowship after I became a believer was in a large Bible-believing institutional church where know knowledge was equated with Christian maturity. The heart was rarely mentioned at all, and when it was, it was in the context of emotion. I came to understand that if one had deep feelings about anything that indicated they “had a heart”. I was led to believe that it was rare to find men with hearts in the church. I actually had an elder in the church tell me he wished he had a heard like mine, “but,” he said matter-of-factly, “I just don’t.”
In the subsequent 12 years or so, in the same denomination but different locations, that attitude was pretty much the same. Personal interests or desires, let alone passions, were rarely discussed. The concept of “heart” was restricted to the synonym of emotion. The message from the leadership was always more about duty and responsibility. The common theme was simply that Jesus died for our sins and thus, out of gratitude, we should live our lives like this…
The religious spirit facilitated an appropriate comfort zone in my experience in the church body. It did that by justifying the laying aside of passion and the asking of difficult questions. I was confused by much of the Scripture that was quoted and how it related to my life now. It actually seemed like all that was required of me was to know what the Bible said, and then, somehow, when verses were said, we were expected to make the application to our own lives without honest questions. It was all Greek…all didactic, with very little opportunity for questions.
Because everyone was silent, we were like a bunch of cattle going through the rituals of activities, never being challenged. In retrospect, it was settling into an environment which was arrogant and boring…and lacking in life. The religious spirit promoted the attitude of “not rocking the boat” above all, and it was promoted by “strong leadership” which was really very weak…a group of men hiding from difficult questions I their rote memorization of theology. Amazing. For a very long time I allowed my own independent thought, along with my passion, to be locked up, and I actually sought to do the same to others.
The religious spirit caused me to put my faith in theology created by men. I had faith in faith, but not in God. I worshipped the Bible rather than its author, and the natural consequence of all that was that I was kept at a distance from the source of life; I was kept from the very intimate, “personal relationship” with Jesus which was being advocated from the pulpit.
End of Excerpt
For me, church activity WAS the means to the end. EVERYTHING was laser-beam focused around church. If one had any outside interests that took one out of church on a regular basis, that person was not considered "faithful" and, not prayed for, but internally and corporeally scorned by those how WERE "faithful". Remember Jesus parable about the man who paid all his workers the same no matter when they started, morning, noon, or evening? Baptists HATE that THEY are doing all the work while some seem perfectly happy to let them. I was one of them!
I worshipped the Bible rather than its author
Yes, yes, yes!! The written word has supplanted the living Word.
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