This is obviously not the case in all but
I have noticed recently more so that
Many people do hide behind a religion to make themselves look good even when they do evil. We all know about "those" things.
But moreso, I really don't know if I belive that going to church makes people better. I think for many it does, for sure, because I feel it helps me keep a positive perspective for my spiritual life.
But I find many who are not nice people who go to church. Many who maybe don't realize that being good is something that comes from inside- a moral descision- as I would put it, and that there are people who do evil and people who do a lot of good in every religion it seems (and non religions too.)
This is very eye opening though I think most adults realize it; though there may be many who actually think that these persuasive "churches" (some of them) , they actually think that by giving a large amount of their money, even if they are poor, is going to make them richer financially. In my opinion, I would give but only as I can and out of charity, not thinking my income would get magically better or whatever.
I applaud people that go to church to better themselves and their community but my main theme is that there are so many "ill informed, ignorant, evil, and mean people" who go to churches. And some of them have really big egos too and think if they pray a lot they are better which is not true for the bible says "by grace are ye saved, not by works, lest any man should boast."!! ))))
I mostly agree with you... going to Church in and of itself does not magically make you better. You have to participate with the right attitude, intend to become better (and thus know you need to become better), and so forth. In my opinion it also helps if the service is sacramental... but that's perhaps a different topic.
I do find it unfortunate that so many people are hypocritical, but we are all fallen and its a fact of life. You will find hypocrits in any walk of life or belief system... Christians just seem to be more critical of other Christians for it. I really believe that 90% are hypocrits though, in some fashion.
And finally, yes, "prosperity gospel" is evil and directly in opposition to the real Gospel of Christ.
Schoolgirl: I know what you mean here. People have as many different reasons for attending church as there are people in attendance. Each person is motivated by their own personal agenda.
Church the primary creator of hypocrites...
The church as a body it will reflect the character of the individuals within.
So therefore ...in it evil put on the appearances of good. How? As a person of the Cloth/Word he gives the impression of one who walks with his intergrity intact before men.
Living by intergity is not natural for this man.
And again..... Good takes on the appearances of evil..How? Because this one will naturally maintain his intergrity, while in the church, he will feel obligated to go along with its doctrines, otherwise he cannot fulfill his obligations to the church.
So therefore he does things for the sake of the church as a person he wont naturally do. I am not talking about shady things although these are a part and parcel, but just legitimate church doctrine.
And believe or not the church is very influential on the lives of all... Both within and without its walls. With the law in its right hand it does wield a stern stick.
The prosperity Gospel...
I've had a church use that to judge me and condemn me. Believers that are doing the right thing, but are still being shat on by life, please understand that it does not mean you are not saved. The Bible seems to have more to say to the rich than to the poor.
Now, people who are in God's grace are in God's grace no matter what they are going through. You don't have to have worldly riches to be considered a believer. Many of Christ's followers in his day were poor and destitute.
Amen to rdlang05's first statement. Another way to put it is: "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian anymore than sleeping in the garage makes you a Cadillac - or even a VW."
Beyond that, and to quote my wife, "Church is meant to be a hospital for sinners, not a rest home for 'the Saints'."
My mom had a friend whom she always invited to church. Ninety percent of the time he declined. One day, he got irritated with her and shouted - "why the hell would I want to go to church with you? Place is full of nothing but hypocrites?" and my mother calmly replied - "yep, and there's always room for one more."
While Christians do not hold the monopoly on hypocrisy, we sure practice the art just as well as anyone else. We're flawed human beings and its our misunderstanding of that fact that causes us to alienate those who don't believe as we do. We wrongly hold ourselves up to be perfect to them, and when we fail to behave perfectly, they rightfully call us out on it.
Most people appear to go to church in order to participate in the process. Participation doesn't make you a better person, but I wonder at the idea of using your time in church to sit in judgment of the people sitting on the adjoining pews. Aren't there more interesting and rewarding things to do with your time?
Church is for those who don't understand God. They go to increase their understanding. Anyone who truly understands what Jesus was saying, doesn't go to church. God dwells in the body, his light shines from out of our eyes. The body is the first temple, wherein lives the almighty. Those who really understand, know that they are a church. The body is the house of God. In my father's house are many mansions.
The thing is
What is a church?
Is it a building, built and designed for the worship of God filled with ritual and ceremony where ill tempers and jealousies can flourish
Is it a community that meets together, sometimes in a house, sometimes in a school and more often in the local pub, to pray and to worship with just the music of a CD player to help them along- where there honesty, openess and love?
I think its the latter and its took 8 long hard years to build it in my area
Since I am studying in a Christian colledge I can answere that question. In the Bible there is a book called Acts. In this book( if you even believe the Bible) It talks about the church as the group of people coming together to worship. According to Acts( the Bible) there is no need for a building at all. Though this may seem sappy, it is true( again, if you even believe in the Bible)
Attending church services doesn't necessarily make good people, but at the same time I don't it's accurate to assume that everyone who goes to church is a hypocrite either. I live in a somewhat close-knit suburb (not a tiny one, but small enough that a lot of people know a lot of others). A good percentage of the people I've known often either attend one of the Protestant churches or else the one small-ish Catholic church.
Either way, they have a sense of community; and they're out doing things with the idea of helping others (sometimes as a group, sometimes individually). They're good people who care about their families and try to do something that helps other people in one way or another. I'm sure there are some hypocrites in the mix, but the people I've known for years are pretty decent people. I just don't think most of them are generally hypocrites who do rotten stuff between church services on the weekend. Then again, I don't go to church and a lot of others don't either. Non-church-goers are also a mix of decent people and not-so-decent people.
I don't think it's such a bad thing that a bunch of people who share religious beliefs get together, have that shared time during services, and do whatever church members do when they have that shared sense of community. Like most other things in life, people are individuals; and how good or rotten they are depends on the individual.
I also agree that getting involved as a community is important and sharing spiritual values can be one of those community get togehters, especially as you say, when they organize to help others like food drives and helping visiti people in prision, etc.
In the old days people went to church because it was what most other people did, but today I think most of the people who go to church do so because they really do want to worship God. There are many types of people who attend worship and none of us is perfect - if we were, we'd be in heaven, not here. And because people are not perfect there is no church that is perfect either, because a church is made of people. But aren't we blessed that we can go to church and worship God in our countries when in many countries people really take their lives in their hands by doing so, as there is so much dangerous opposition, so we have much to be thankful for.
In China, I heard, I wrote a paper in college back in 2004, there is distribution of the chinese bible which is illegal and the govt punishes people but they still do it, because it is a source of inspiration and joy for them, we are definitely lucky and blessed
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