Belonging to the body of Christ can be one of the most wonderful aspects of our lives. And belonging to a church can truly be one of the most difficult or even worst parts of our experience on earth.
In this age of interconnectedness, our belonging to the body of Christ isn’t just limited to our local congregation. We can also be impacted by online relationships with other Christians around the world. So what do we do with pressures that come from being a part of the church? How do we say “no” to church pressures?
You are probably expecting some long explanation of all the things that can go wrong in a church setting and examples of these church pressures. I’m not going to do that. We all have experienced enough of that already and there is no reason to rehash all the negative. (If you truly have no idea what I’m talking about, count yourself extremely blessed.)
When it comes down to it, saying “no” to church pressures means basically one thing.
Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith.
- It means not listening to people who try to steal your freedom in Christ.
- It means not listening to those who try to draw you into their rigid rules and legalistic schemes.
- It means not listening to anyone who teaches Jesus plus something else no matter how great that something else might seem.
- It means, at times, stepping back and separating your relationship with Jesus from the local body or church, even if this means leaving the church without somewhere else to go. Yes, sometimes it is necessary to leave a church in order to save your relationship with Christ.
While the body of Christ is found in the local church, not every local church or church member is a part of the body of Christ.
Not every pastor is a part of the body of Christ. Let that sink in a moment.
There are many unregenerate people out there sitting in the pews and even standing in the pulpit who have no idea what it means to truly belong to Christ. There are many people who present a form of godliness, but there is no life and no Jesus in it.
I suspect you can trace almost every church pressure we experience in life back to a lack of focus Jesus and what He accomplished for us on the cross and in his resurrection. It is Jesus plus something else. Or in some cases there’s no Jesus in it at all.
Fellow believers who truly love you and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit will not feel compelled to control you and your spiritual life. Anyone who is trying to control you, manipulate you, or shame you into anything church-related should be avoided like the plague.
In fact, even more than the plague because the plague only destroys the body.
Those people will seek to destroy your soul.
This post is part of my 5 Days of Saying “No” series.