I have said this many, many times in the past. I have written viral blog posts about it, shared videos about it and even taught about it in small group classes before. Yet, I still find myself needing to say it again:
Religion is killing the Church.
Legalism is butchering the Gospel.
“Rules” are rendering the Message ineffective.
I grew up in a small town, raised in a small Southern Baptist church in Alabama. I thought there was only two translations of the Bible—the King James and the NIV. We sang hymns out of the hymnal long before there were screen projectors used for anything other than Vacation Bible School song lyrics. Everyone sat in the same seat on Sunday morning and tithed using the designated and appropriate envelopes. Southern Baptists are really good at rules, fundamental religion and legalism.
Growing up, I really thought that the King James Bible was the only one we could use or trust to be “right.” The preacher was supposed to preach out of the KJV and the rest of the congregation who didn’t understand words like, “quaternion” (cf), “neesings” (cf), and “pygarg” (cf) were to use something like the NIV (the only acceptable alternate translation in the ’90s). No one I knew had ever gone to Seminary, except the pastor. No one I knew had ever been to any sort of Bible college. What I knew about Jesus, was based on what I learned at Youth Group.
I went to church because that’s what you do down South. Church is Sunday morning (if it’s not hunting season) and maybe Sunday evening if there’s no football. Generally, church began and ended for the majority of folks before noon on Sunday. As I have gotten older, gone out into the world and learned to stand on my own two [spiritual] feet, I’ve learned that there’s a lot about the “American” church that we are getting wrong…starting with the religious aspect. There are two main lies that are killing the growth of the church and hindering the beauty of the gospel.
Jesus wants you to only use the King James Bible.
I’ll just go ahead and dive right in and make the ultra conservative, KJV only folk twitch a bit. No where in scripture does it read that there is only one translation of the Bible that you should read. There is too much “KJV is the only accurate translation” going on out there and quite honestly it’s ridiculous. The old English wording of the KJV is exhausting to read and leads to frustration and agitation. King James had the first translation of the Bible written in 1611. When asked his opinion about Bible translations, the late Reverend Billy Graham once stated that modern translators have access to older Greek Manuscripts that have been discovered since the KJV was written…possibly making modern translations more accurate. (src).
It is also helpful to remember that, while King James “authorized” a particular translation for the Church of England in the 17th century, it is no more authoritative for us today than any other translation.Billy Graham
I recommend using multiple translations; find the one that you are most comfortable with and get in the Word. I use an NKJV and ESV translation for my studying and personal quiet time. I often use the Amplified Version on YouVersion and have used the NLT translation at times for clarification. God wants you in the Word. Any attempt at getting in the Gospel for the sake of hearing from the Father will be acknowledged by Him.
You shouldn’t associate with Non-Christians…you’ll be too influenced and tempted by the world.
As Christians, we are COMMANDED to go and tell the world about Jesus. Not go into our comfortable neighborhoods and share with people who look like us. In this progressive, opinionated culture we live in, too many seem to believe that you have to agree on every issue to communicate. While we, as Christians, have standards according to the Gospel, we aren’t meant to isolate ourselves and put ourselves in boxes. In fact, by learning how to communicate with and engage people who do not believe that way we do, we learn how best to relate to those who think differently without changing who we are.
Instead of choosing to see people as people, we often see them as sinners, forgetting that that’s what we all are. Instead of choosing to remember that God cleansed our unrighteousness, we often see ourselves as righteous. Instead of choosing to share the beauty and freedom we have found in Christ, we try to not to “get involved” with anyone who may not look or think or act the way we do. We don’t live among sinners and become like sinners; just as Paul didn’t live among adulterers to become an adulterer. He associated with and connected with sinners to win more souls for the Kingdom.
For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them. To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.1 Corinthians 9:20-23 [emphasis mine]
Jesus came to save the sinners. He came to heal the broken. He came to bring life back to this dead world. Living as though there are certain “qualifications” for being worthy of the gospel by our own standpoints and beliefs is the exact opposite of all that Jesus stood for. Let’s spend more time sharing Jesus than teaching folks about religion.
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