John 3:16-21 New Living Translation (NLT)
16 “For this is how God loved the world: He gave[a] his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. 17 God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.
18 “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. 19 And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. 20 All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. 21 But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.[b]”
It’s Valentine’s Day. The day of love. The day we receive and give love. The day we remember the One who IS love. The One who loves the world. The One who lovesyou. The One who loves me. The One who commands me to love Him. The One who commands me to loveothers. The One who loved me when I hated Him. The One who loves me and hates my sin.
Scripture says there’s a time to love and a time to hate:
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 New Living Translation (NLT)
3 For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
2 A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3 A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4 A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7 A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
8 A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.
In this season under heaven, a lot of Christians are saying they love God. But only a few are actually loving Him. Scripture is clear: IF we say we love God, THEN our actions will prove we loveHim. IF we say we love God, THEN our actions will also prove we hate what He hates.
What does God hate?
Proverbs 6:16-19 New Living Translation (NLT)
16 There are six things the Lord hates—
no, seven things he detests:
17 haughty eyes,
a lying tongue,
hands that kill the innocent,
18 a heart that plots evil,
feet that race to do wrong,
19 a false witness who pours out lies,
a person who sows discord in a family.
If we, as Christians, the Church, the body of Christ, don’t hate the detestable sin of our eyes, our tongue, our hands, our heart, how can we truly love God?
It’s time to hate our sin.
It’s time to kill it. It’s time to tear it down. It’s time to cry about it. It’s time to grieve about it. It’s time to scatter it. It’s time to turn away from it. It’s time to tear it. It’s time to be quiet (and listen to the Holy Spirit). It’s time for war.
If we do not love God, we cannot love people on Valentine’s Day or any other day of the year. And without love,we cannot make disciples.
It’s time to hate our sin.
It’s time to repent.
Ephesians 5:25-30 New Living Translation (NLT)
25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word.[a] 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.30 And we are members of his body.
We left our local church again.
Short answer: God said.
Long answer: We came to a fork in the narrow road where we had to choose to be loyal to a church system or submit to what Scripture and the Spirit were saying.
After many months of searching Scripture, praying, sobbing, contemplating, receiving visions and dreams from the Lord, and wrestling through my selfish desire to remain in fellowship with my friends, we divorced the church system.
We LOVE the church, the body of Christ, His bride. But we can no longer submit to man’s system of doing church. The cry of our heart is to BE THE CHURCH, worshipping the Lord in Spirt and in Truth.
John 4:21-24 New Living Translation (NLT)
21 Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem.22 You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. 23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
Charming and I were raised going to church, long before we became part of the Church. I was part of the Presbyterian system and we have been part of the Methodist system, the non-denominational Baptist system, the non-denominational Pentecostal system, and the non-denominational mega system.
We had fantastic pastors and not so fantastic pastors. We had pastors who shepherded these stupid, stubborn sheep! And we had pastors who became power hungry, prideful dictators that pursued their own empires. Honestly, I don’t think they knew what they were doing. They didn’t realize they were neglecting the sheep because they were too busy managing the system. They didn’t see the enemy sneak in to steal, kill and destroy the flock. They didn’t hear the cries of the wandering sheep who needed to be led back to the safety of the sheepfold. The sheep became just another number. Just another servant of the system. As my friend said, “just a cog in a wheel.” Just another passenger on a runaway freight train; who’s tracks were already laid, who’s schedules were already made, and who’s conductors weren’t concerned with a few passengers hopping off at the station, because greater numbers would jump on at the next.
I have forgiven those shepherds.
Just as the Great Shepherd has forgiven me.
I’ve never been given the title of pastor, but I understand what it means to pastor people, to shepherd the sheep. Charming and I have led others in service teams and small groups for over two decades in local churches and in ministry through the non-profit we founded in 2010.
I understand wanting to be used by God.
I understand wanting to serve people.
I understand wanting power.
I understand wanting a position.
I understand wanting to please others.
I understand wanting to be on a platform.
I understand wanting the praises of others.
I understand wanting big numbers; people and dollar bills.
And, I understand grieving the Spirit by obeying the system instead of obeying Him.
But I also understand that God’s kindness led me to repent.
Repent for the lust of my eyes, the lust of my flesh and the pride of my life.
And a result of His revelation, He required a response: divorce the church system.
Jesus said, if I love Him I will obey His commands.
I do. And I did.
The divorce has been painful for our family.
But the Lord has been faithful. We are no longer bound to a system. Instead, we are free to worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth with other parts of the body. Gathering at home each week, we’ve gone back to the simple way (Acts 2); worshipping, praying, studying Scripture, and sharing communion and meals with one another.
If we believe, receive and confess Jesus as Lord and Savior…
We are His church.
We are His body.
We are His bride.
We believe in the Father.
We believe in the Son.
We believe in the Spirit.
We believe in the baptism of water and fire.
We believe the Father gives good gifts to the church.
We believe the Son gives good gifts to the church.
We believe the Spirit gives good gifts to the church.
We believe the church is to be disciples and make disciples.
We believe Jesus is the head of His church, His body, His bride.
We believe the Spirit is preparing the bride for the Grooms return.
We believe Jesus will present His pure and spotless bride to the Father.
Ephesians 4:1-16 New Living Translation (NLT)
4 Therefore I, a prisoner for serving the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling, for you have been called by God. 2 Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. 3 Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace. 4 For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future.
5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 one God and Father of all,
who is over all, in all, and living through all.
7 However, he has given each one of us a special gift[a] through the generosity of Christ. 8 That is why the Scriptures say,
“When he ascended to the heights,
he led a crowd of captives
and gave gifts to his people.”[b]
9 Notice that it says “he ascended.” This clearly means that Christ also descended to our lowly world.[c] 10 And the same one who descended is the one who ascended higher than all the heavens, so that he might fill the entire universe with himself.
11 Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. 12 Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ. 13 This will continue until we all come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature in the Lord, measuring up to the full and complete standard of Christ.
14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. 16 He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.
Revelation 19:6-7 New Living Translation (NLT)
6 Then I heard again what sounded like the shout of a vast crowd or the roar of mighty ocean waves or the crash of loud thunder:
“Praise the Lord!
For the Lord our God,[a] the Almighty, reigns.
7 Let us be glad and rejoice,
and let us give honor to him.
For the time has come for the wedding feast of the Lamb,
and his bride has prepared herself.