The problem concerning growing closer to God has to do with religions themselves. Organized religions are run by people. This means the people who lead a religion have the capacity to change the living word of God and influence many people to believe something that is false in God’s eyes. Sometimes leaders of a religion do this out of lack of full understanding about the written word and sometimes they simply do it out of greed, desire to rule, be respected, be powerful, and maintain the wealth this prestige has afforded them and their lifestyle.
Whatever the reason, people in positions of authority in all religions have the ability to lead people astray, betray their followers, and corrupt the truth. And as with human nature throughout the history of time, going way back to Biblical times when the Jewish High Priests (called the Sanhedren) negotiated with the Romans to kill Jesus, so too are many religious leaders of today corrupted by the fame and glory of leading God’s people. It would seem that the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ time lived rather lofty lives. They were revered by the rest of the Jewish people as teachers of the most high God. Back in those days, only those with the right breeding were able to learn how to read. The poor were mostly illiterate and therefore had to trust in their spiritual leaders of the day to help them understand God’s word in the scriptures.
This left many commoners at the mercy of the high priests and their interpretations of God’s commandments. The problem was that the high priests had fallen short of what God had intended for people. They acted high and mighty. They had reduced God’s influence to mere laws. They had hardened hearts and didn’t understand the love that was behind all of God’s reasoning. In other words, they hadn’t been transformed by God’s word because they were simply living it externally and had never changed their own interior landscape by digesting the word of God in its fullness.
This resulted in God sending His only Begotten Son down to earth in order to reach the masses of people and teach them the true word of God without alteration. God knew if those who were teaching didn’t teach the message properly no one could be expected to know right from wrong in order to live the way He desires that we live.
Jesus came down to earth incarnate in order to live the word and show us how God, the Father, expects us to live. The Jewish leaders had let God down for so long, He sent Jesus to minister to the world and serve His people as the living word of God.
I think it’s pretty safe to say most any real person of faith sees this pattern of corruption and defiling of the word has happened in every organized religion established since the beginning of time. This calls the person to make one of several choices. The people dealing with this confusion have either strayed away from belief in God and left the Church altogether; left their Church of origin in search of another place to worship God / Jesus / the Holy Spirit; still go to their Church of origin or choice but have to look away from the hypocrisy of the people within their Church; or simply don’t go to Church but still believe in God and His saving grace.
That said, it leaves God’s people in a state of divisivness and confusion. Confusion leads to doubt, fear, and distrust. Distrust can lead to deceit, anger, and all kinds of negative emotions that are manifested in those who lack full and complete faith in God’s word.
If those who claim to love and represent God would simply rise to the task and do as He truly taught us, this vicious cyle could be curtailed.
But far too often, instead of doing as God tells us, we as human beings utilize the gift of free will that God bequeathed to us and chose unwisely. We don’t always treat others with the respect and dignity He calls us to. We mistakenly put our own needs before others and our pride gets in the way. This is why there is so much anamosity in the world.
But because there is always hope with God, we can choose to change this course and pray to God to give us the kind of wisdom that helps us desire to understand instead of being understood. This wisdom will give us the patience, courage, and humility to do right by God in this world no matter how we are treated in return.
Far too many people throughout the history of time have been marginalized by those who say they are of a supposed religion and yet these people have not acted accordingly. For those who really want to make a positive difference in this world, I ask you to call on God for help to strengthen you in a way that will bless you with the courage to make right decisions when dealing with those around you. When I handle decisions in my life this way, God takes that mustard seed of hope He has planted in my heart and waters and nurtures it so it can actually stand the chance of growing into that full grown tree that provides shade for the others around me. He can grow this tree in the earth and in our hearts. This is what Jesus told us in the parables of the New Testament and this is what His true believers have done throughout history.
When you read about the saints you can see that their faith was inspirational. Look at the Mother Teresa’s of the world and you will understand how God can use regular people like you and me to provide shade for others.
Even though Mother Teresa faced many challenges when dealing with the Catholic Church during her ministry, she remained steadfast in her conviction to be God’s servant. She persisted by remaining true to God and not catering to her superiors when they weren’t acting out of love for others. Mother Teresa realized what God had done for His people through our Savior Jesus (God the Son) and she didn’t need reinforcement from the fallible people in the Church. She merely needed to spread God’s love the way she heard God tell her to in her heart.
Here’s my point, if the Church (Church with a capital “C” is the people of the Church) does not act like Jesus did when He roamed the earth, and like God, the Father, instructed us before Jesus walked the earth, how will God’s love ever take proper root in society?
The answer is … it makes it much more difficult.
The reason this confusion happens is because we have a mixed bag of people in the world, most with the intent to do good, but some desiring power and praise. Chaos arises when tyranny knocks at the door. It is much easier to create chaos than to do good. The good guys don’t usually get the glory in this world. But they do receive grace and go to heaven for all eternity after life on earth. What’s better, temporary glory or eternal? You have to make this decision for yourself. Jesus did. He was our living, breathing, physcial example who showed us how to live here in proper relationship with Him and the Father. This resulted in suffering, which He was willing to bear for us. Adam and Eve had brought sin into the world. The Son of God came to cleanse us of our sins and earn us a salvation we simply could not achieve ourselves.
Most all Christians are fully aware that Jesus went through the passion in order to earn us salvation. If you look closely at the life of Jesus, you will see He achieved many things for us humans while He was here. In addition to earning our salvation, Jesus gave us the living word of God, He lived according to God’s commandments and thus taught us how God, the Father, calls us to live. Jesus gave us a deeper understanding about how people would react to us when we stand up for Godly principles and refuse to deny God. Another very important gift that Jesus gave us when He allowed Himself to die in the flesh was to help us understand that we do not have to fear death. Death is not defeat. Death for Jesus was a victory. He’d given up His human life for our salvation. Death is the point where we cross over to another dimension of existence. It is not the end.
Death is only defeat if we don’t end up in heaven. If we look to Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life, believers will have the opportunity to experience God’s love on earth as well as in heaven. Even when we experience hardships in this life on earth, if we look to God as our strength (God being the tribune God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) we will experience His grace.
Those who know that every organized religion has been corrupted in some ways throughout time and yet still go to Church are able to look past the hypocrisy of “surface” Christians for a reason. That reason is because we know we are there to worship, praise, and serve God. We are all called by God to look past the human hypocrisy and desire to seek the true word of God for ourselves. We can do this through the Bible, through prayer, and through the discernment process. This requires us, as individuals, to spend quality, undivided time praying and talking to the Lord asking for His truth, understanding, and wisdom in our hearts.
If we don’t include this private time with God, talking to Him and meditating on His word, it is dead in us. It cannot come to live in our hearts and souls because it is not being watered and nurtured. It sits flat on a page until we take it, chew it up, swallow it, and digest it through meditation and the discernment process in our hearts. Only then can it come alive within us and properly transform our hearts. Only then can we go out and manifest the true love of God into this fallen world the way God intended us to.
Another reason it is important for God’s people to continue to go to Church is so we can be in communion with others that are there. We can be a light to other people of faith. When they encounter darkness in the Church, we can be there to provide light. We will also know who and what to pray to God for with regard to others needs. Because prayer to God is so powerful, it is essential that God’s people go to Church, see what’s going on, and pray for protection, love, and mercy for all.
We cannot change others. We must always turn to God in prayer and ask Him to guide, lead, and protect others in their journey to find Him. This is how hearts are transformed. This is how people come to God, love Him with all our heart, and desire to remain in proper relationship with Him.
Take, for instance, Saint Augustine. Saint Augustine’s mother was worried about him when he was young. Apparently Augustine was quite a rebel. He did not listen to God’s word because he didn’t believe in God. One day, his mother received inspiration from the Holy Spirit telling her in that wee small voice in her heart to stop preaching to Augustine about God and start praying to God to help Augustine find the Lord. Once she approached the situation in this manner, Augustine turned around completely–so much so he was canonized by the Catholic Church as a saint.
The interesting thing about the apostasy that exists in every religion today is that we have been warned that it would come to pass. Anyone who reads scripture from the Bible on a regular basis will know that the prophets foretold of a time when false prophets and confusion would abound. This is why it is sad to faithful people when others who profess to be faithful still won’t acknowledge or even recognize what is and has been going on for years.
For some, the reason they don’t recognize it is because they have not been able to interpret Bible scripture themselves and have not been exposed to the true living word of God through people who are real God-fearing representatives of the faith. For others who desire to be optomistic, it might be hard to simply acknowledge all the turmoil that exists around us.
Whatever the cause of this inability to see how oversaturated our world is with evil, all I ask is that you think about who is very much involved in the fallen world today. Earth is where Satan dwells. He was thrown out of heaven and down to earth. It is here that he and his demons prowl around in search of those who have opened the door to their hearts through doubt and sin. These include people of all religions, Judaism, Catholicism, Evangelicals, Muslims, etc. These are the ones who bring to life war, destruction, hate, violence, suffering, etc. Sadly, many times it is people who hold positions of authority within the various religions that use their religious affiliations to camouflage their apostasy and allow their true nature of deceit to corrupt the hearts of the unschooled, unsuspecting, and unbelieving.
As a result of all the hypocrisy that has transpired from sources we are supposed to be able to look to for guidance in our faith, many people continue to walk through life adrift in the world. They go about their lives as if God’s precepts don’t really matter. They go on with “business as usual” and simply refer to everything unholy as “business is business.” Have you ever noticed that the word business is very close to busyness?
Satan is the one who wants to keep all of God’s children busy. When we are busy with stuff, we don’t take time to mediate on God and His word. When we don’t meditate on His word, we don’t understand it in all situations. We don’t give His word time and enough attention to take proper root in our heart. Thus the opportunity to misinterpret scripture exists and can be manipulated by others who have malicious intent.
I also want to address those who test God in their attempt to believe. If we only believe when we ask for something from God and we receive exactly what we asked for, this is not having faith. True faith is having an abiding belief in our hearts no matter what. An understanding that all that happens to us in life is for a greater good in our formation or the formation of those around us. God tells us not to put Him to the test. He tells us to simply trust Him. He knows what is best for us. We are called to accept that, digest it, and seek God’s wisdom to understand it. Period.
All the above scenarios are sad because the people who do not have a personal relationship with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit will more than likely spend all or most of their lives without the presence of the Holy Spirit to be with them and guide them in their thoughts and ways. The result of this is continued chaos and confusion in the world because the world is not working the way it was intended to and people continue to become more and more corrupted. This has an affect on the world around us. Such disillusionment affects us all in various ways. In fact, it boggles me how confused I myself have become when I know that all this was foretold in the Bible. Yet when I wasn’t reading the scriptures and digesting the word of God, I have fallen prey to Satan’s deceptions that spew from the mouths and actions of those who might proclaim to, but don’t even try to live according to God’s true word.
From personal experience, I have been in and out of proper relationship with God for various reasons throughout my life. Now, more than ever, I realize that it is because I was not spending quality time with God in conversation, prayer, meditation on His living word, and asking for the beautiful gift of discernment, that most of what I mentioned to you above has left me flemaxed at times. I can only share with my readers the understanding that for someone who wants to truly follow the living word of God, you must take the time everyday to talk to Him. He is the only true source of pure, untainted love. If we don’t spend time with the One true source of love, we will not be able to live love properly.
Whenever doubt enters into the picture, it dims our light because we are being drawn further away from the light–the true source of goodness and love. If we are drawn away from light we are actually gravitating toward darkness.
Having said all this, I hope it will inspire others to pray for those in their social sphere to desire to seek God. Pray continually for these people. Then set the worry aside and let God step in to do His healing.