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Eric's Sunday Sermon; This Notion of Religion
Does the little one who cannot read learn about God?
Attendance in church is down for Christians
More Christians than do, do not attend church regularly in the United States. Is this a terrible thing? Maybe and maybe not. Religion is taught in church. There are differences between churches and the religion they espouse. Can there be an actual reason people do not attend church regularly? I suggest there is and it is not so pretty.
I attend church quite regularly. That is just me. Do you? And I would suggest that there are very valid reasons why you don't if you don't.
Is it really such a horrible thing to not like church? Let me put it another way; Is there a reason you would rather do something else with your time? Or how about another viewpoint. I really like to go to church, why? As a former preacher man I can tell you that my reasons for attending do not outweigh your reasons for not attending.
Sometimes I don't want to go to church so I do not. There are some folks who regularly attend a Bible study but not church. There are some people who simply like nature more than inside buildings. There are also some folks who think spending relaxed time with family is better than the hubbub of going out somewhere.
If you do not like attending church why go? There are some folks that really love their God but just do not like church. I hereby absolve you of any guilt you may find for not going or even liking church.
Three wise men
The words are actually kind of cool. Besides I can remember the chorus!
There are about 258 million self identified Christians in the US. Of those Christians about 156 million do not attend church regularly. Do you still feel guilty about not attending church? Go from time to time and you are with about 200 million souls. These are the best statistics I could come up with extrapolating from percentages reported in polls and census. It could be off ten percent in any direction so the exactness is not relevant as the numbers are still huge.
I attend a different new church about once a month. So I have been to literally hundreds of different churches. Some speak in tongues. Some have traditions that are over one thousand years old. Some have adornments some have none. Most sing but some do not, some have only singing. Many have communion but some do not. I think all have a membership concept. Most have children's programs. Two things I have never ever seen absent are a preacher and a collection. Some preachers - most - spend some time of asking for money right in their sermon time. I hate to break it to you but most of that money goes to the building and the "staff" of the church. So some churches are very different but most have somethings in common.
The Sunday Sermon hubs were originally started for people who do not attend church. Kind of a way to get some religion without attending a service/church. The ads you see placed here are normally not the preacher's. If they appear they are the publisher's. Occasionally we do place an ad or two, but those are to expand the reader base. You see if we place the ads the publisher "pushes" the article more because it increases revenue. No ads, less incentive for reasonable publishing. We all get that if someone does nothing but preach and attend to needs of a congregation they need to have a living in order to do that. But around here we live to preach not preach to live. So around here we also donate to churches so that they may continue to exist. Purely selfish. Perhaps better to donate directly to a group doing good work and not for the sake of the group. But that is a choice only you can make for yourself.
From the King to the King
Here is a little parallel to envision. I have some health issues. On a regular basis my physicians and their staff remind me of things not to do. On special occasions like surgery or test they tell me exactly what not to do. They very seldom tell me what to do. Even when I ask directly they are wholly inadequate to tell me what healthy helpful things I should do.
Does the above remind you of anything to do with church? Seems most preachers like to stand in front of us and tell us what is horrible sinful but seldom tell us exactly what is good to do. Except perhaps donations. Cynical? Maybe. Reality for sure.
So my son came over to help me with my diet. He tore into and insisted on tossing or at least ceasing getting more of certain chemicals in my food. Benzoate being top offender. Very brutal in the "you can't eat this" category. But then he also gave me a list of healthy alternatives.
Sound like a good church you have been to?
Can they teach a way for us to view life?
The friends we choose say a whole lot about us. There would be a reason that we have no friends and there would be a reason why we have many with real flaky people among them. Most of us are in between. So why go to church in order to get the benefits of a close circle of friends?
A good church has people with something in common. A bad church is one where all the people think uniformly. Most churches are something of a combination. If you are really in conformity with the people in a church then maybe you should not go there. Bet you thought I was going to say "should go there". The reason I say "should not" is that we have a habit as humans of following the herd. Good for lower animals bad for free thinkers.
Are they good folks just because they attend church? I will leave that one up to you. But chances are if it is a good church that is because the community of that church is good.
Now remember this article is about religion and not about going or not going to church. The reason we talk about church is that that is where we teach religion. If we refer to religion as this: a particular system of faith and worship. Then you definitely need outside guidance to learn that system. Now if you refer to religions as this: the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. Then you do not need anything to do with man in order to be convicted to your faith. I would suggest that those who identify as being Christian fall most distinctively within one of those categories. The first needing church and the latter not needing church. In other words you "religion" is either personal or it is part of a system. Or you could be like me and have a combination although not tied to a particular sect. But that takes years of hard discernment to "come into". It also takes a lot of study in comparative religions. Otherwise it is just an excuse not to attend church.
So religion is a man made construct based on faith of a group commonality. If a Christian does not believe the Bible is divinely inspired what then are we to call this Christian. If somehow a Christian just gets it into their mind and soul that Christ is God then what need has she for religion? They still got their information from man but something touched them deeply and they were "convinced" Christians. The rules and traditions of a denomination mean little to them. They are inspired by a personal relationship. It is a Holy mystery how they really got faith. Sure mock them as not true Christians. Throw that first stone. Peter, Paul, James, John, Matthew, Mark, Luke and another John never read the Bible. Luke never met Jesus in the flesh. Paul never met Jesus in the flesh and yet they wrote Most of the New Testament. If that can work and God is alive today then it can and should work for us today. But do we call that religion? Nope. In fact for Christians there are literally hundreds of religions to choose from. The actual systems of worship are different. Or they can choose no religion at all and just have faith.
I will choose for you. Go forth and have faith. Now about church and religious indoctrination, either do or don't. The faith part should not change for the worse either way. If it does do it another way where the faith stays strong. But do not choose a path based on apathy and laziness. Base it on a firm desire to get closer and stay closer to God.