The Reaction of Sincere Worshipers
When we understand the problem, we can more clearly see the solution. Religion is on a bad path because the spirituality of the individual has been usurped and replaced with ecclesiastical authority. Rather than being led by spirit, we are being told by men what to believe, what to do, and what to say. The solution, therefore, is to recapture our spiritual lives, regain our spiritual autonomy, and subject ourselves to the actual, authentic, plain and open teachings of Jesus Christ.
We do this, not by rebelling against authority, but merely by asserting our own, ‘with gentleness and respect’ (1 Peter 3:15), confirming in our hearts what we truly believe, and making that truth our own. When we let the Father’s laws be written in our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33), we do not need man to teach us how to behave. (1 John 2:27)
As practitioners of the religion of the spirit, we will manifest the fruitage of the spirit – “love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) By so doing, we eliminate the urge of others to feel they must step up and take control over our spiritual lives.
This does not mean that we should not have spiritual shepherds. ‘Gifts in men’ is a provision of the Christ.
“This is why it says: “When he ascended on high, he took many captives and gave gifts to his people.” ... So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”
– Ephesians 4:8, 11-12
But as Paul explained:
“What, after all, is Apollos? And what is Paul? Only servants, through whom you came to believe— as the Lord has assigned to each his task. I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.”
– 1 Corinthians 3:5-9
These spiritual shepherds must recognize the relative nature of their position. They are not lords or masters of our faith.
“Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.”
– 2 Corinthians 1:24
We can help them along in their role by standing tall as spiritual men and women who take responsibility for our own salvation. After all, when we ‘stand before the judgment seat,’ we will stand alone.
All sincere people should courageously examine their religion to see if it promotes the idea and the ideal of sonship as Jesus taught. If it does, continue in that path, growing ever closer to the Father by putting on the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:14-16) and the complete suit of armor from God. (Ephesians 6:11-18)
If, on the other hand, we find that our religion is not living up to Jesus’ message of sonship, we can, first, do our part to gain our brothers by spreading this good news to our fellow worshipers, especially to those taking the lead. Many of religion’s leaders are humble enough to make adjustments when they are presented with irrefutable scriptural evidence.
But if our efforts at refinement are met with steadfast resistance as was the case with the religious leaders in Jesus’ day, we can take the counsel of Jesus himself when he sent forth his apostles with the good news of the Kingdom:
“If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Truly I tell you, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah on the day of judgment than for that town.”
– Matthew 10:14-15
And if we choose to ‘go out from that city,’ we are assured of the Father’s loving care and protection:
“Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” And, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
– 2 Corinthians 6:17-18
Practicing the religion of the spirit requires faith – faith in the power of God and the certainty of His promises, faith in Jesus’ promise that he would send the Spirit of Truth to be with us and guide us, faith in the power of love to effect real change in ourselves and our communities, and faith in the power of a mere ‘mustard seed’ of faith! We must have a living, active faith based in love, not fear.