This is a practical story to follow up on a previous post about how often we slip into the trap of thinking “church” is our personal Lord and Savior instead of Jesus. This new post is the story of our encounter with Amber (Name changed for courtesy). If you haven’t already, CLICK HERE to read previous post “Church, My Personal Lord & Savior”, and then come back to read Amber’s story.
“This story has actually led me to believe that many people may actually need to be saved FROM church in order to know Jesus as Lord as opposed to the other way around.”
We made the drive from Austin to San Marcus where Taylor, one of our awesome sisters in Christ lives & goes to school at Texas State. Our primary purpose was to go love on, and encourage Taylor for the day. We also thought it’d be fun to go out on campus to see where Jesus might lead us by His Spirit. While on campus Taylor saw a girl in a knee brace. She immediately approached her, and began a conversation. Over the course of the next 15-20 minutes we got to know Amber. She is a beautiful girl with a deep, but undeveloped love in her heart for Jesus. Because of a terrible experience with “church” as a child she had not known how to pursue her love for Him outside the context of the lovely religious system that had so deeply wounded her. She had stopped going to church, and reading her Bible years before. From time to time she prayed, and tried talking to Jesus, but there seemed to be some blockades hindering her from intimacy with Him. After walking away from our conversation with Amber I am convinced that her biggest hindrance to intimacy with Jesus is something that has been ingrained in her from a young age. She could not seem to get past the idea that “going back to church” was not what she needed to do, or what her heart longed for. Her soul longed for Jesus…
During our conversation with Amber we never mentioned a word about “church”. One of the first questions she asked us was, “what club or organization are you guys a part of”? We just told her we weren’t, but just loved Jesus and each other. She shared her story with us of being deeply wounded by her church, etc. She kept saying, “I’m just not ready to go back to church yet”. It was funny because we had never even suggested she go back to “church”. We prayed over her, shared some visions and prophetic words we received for her from the Holy Spirit, encouraged her and spoke life into her current situation. Again, she insisted to us that she was not ready to go back to church yet. “Maybe in another year or so, but just not now”. After she had said this several times I looked at her and said something along the lines of, “Amber, I don’t think Jesus is very concerned about you going back to church. I just know He loves you, wants an intimate relationship with you, and it brings Him to tears each day that He is apart from you.”
It was after that statement that I realized how deeply ingrained this thought process is in our culture. Even after clearly sharing the Gospel, and how Jesus had no desire for her to go back to church, but to be with HIM she still had this mindset that “when she was ready” she would “go back to church”.
Our time with Amber was not in vain. She definitely encountered the love of God, and was teary eyed at several points throughout our conversation with her. She got to experience His love through us, and hear that He wanted her to dance again. (She was a ballet performer & instructor until the injury to her knee) She got a small taste of what it could mean to follow Jesus and BE a part of His Body. We got to play a part in chipping away at that mindset that “going to church” was what was going to “save her” or solidify her “standing with God”. She encountered some people who heard the clear call of Jesus to “follow Him”, not the call to “go to church”.
We spent the rest of the day offering up spontaneous prayers for Amber’s heart to let go and love Jesus. I offered up a secret prayer that God would “SAVE HER FROM CHURCH”, and “to Himself”.
As “Christians” here in America we are sometimes the quickest to slip into idolatry. A primary scheme of the enemy is to take things that are “good” and convince us those things are more worthy of our worship than Jesus. (Even “worship” itself! See how sneaky satan is) We get easily distracted, and accidentally start worshiping the created thing instead of the creator of the thing.
For years this mentality that “church” is what will “save us” has tainted our view of Jesus, and what it means to BE a part of the Body of Christ. Of course, nobody comes out and says something like, “salvation is through faith in church”, or “you must go to church to be saved!” But, it is something deeply ingrained into the Christian culture here in America. Because we have lost sight of every believer’s call to make disciples, and settled for a religious system made up of a few select people who do so for us, we have communicated to the lost world that it is in fact “church” that will save them first and foremost, not Jesus. The above story has actually led me to believe that many people may actually need to be saved FROM church in order to know Jesus as Lord as opposed to the other way around. The world needs Jesus. They don’t need church. The beauty is that when the world has Jesus they are automatically a part of THE CHURCH. Relationally they have everything they need, and are being obedient to everything they have been called to as a part of the larger Body of Christ.