CHAPTER ONE, MODERN PHARISEES

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The church was looking darker than ever. Not dark like night time, but dark like evil; not good. Maybe that’s wrong of me to say that. I don’t know. But I was raised there. We were always in church for something. I grew up in that atmosphere. I can still remember answering those same worthless bible knowledge questions that most kids today probably do. “What two animals in the book of Genesis spoke?” The teacher would ask. Up my hand would go, “Yes, Rob”. “It was the serpent and a donkey.” “Very good”, they would say, as if knowing some facts would save my soul.

Everyone was impressed by the amount understanding that we (myself and my little sis) had of scripture. I like to call it scripture. It just seems more elegant than bible, or passages. Anyway, it was this understanding that would eventually lead me away from God for a time in my life, though he never let go of me. Let me explain.

The church that my family was a part of during those years was very much what being in Jerusalem would have been like during the time after the ascension of Christ. There were tons of rules that really didn’t (and still don’t) have ANYTHING to do with the scriptures of our King. They all carried bibles (mostly KJV, which I don’t have enough memory on this blog to get into), but they lived by the District manual. This little blue book that everyone who was anyone had a copy of. The book was basically a large set of pharisaic rules to live by that some old person with no grip on reality wrote down and sold to people who were too afraid to seek out truth on their own.

So, we weren’t allowed to dance. That was sinful, even though David, the man after God’s own heart, danced NAKED in praise to God. Am I saying that I want to dance naked and call it celebrating Jesus? Not at all. I just wondered where it said not to dance in the bible. And if it did say that, then how do you explain what David did.

Also, any music with an electric guitar was “of the devil”, because it imitated the world (hogwash!). Meanwhile the man that the denomination is named after and his brother wrote many hymns that were originally bar tunes. They used this technique to lure those who would frequent bars…but that, of course, is not imitating the world at all. There is nothing biblical about electric guitars. If I were going to say that guitar distortion were a bad thing, then I would also have to include pianos, organs, acoustic guitars, violins and any other instrument that is NOT MENTIONED 1 time in scripture. Stupid!

There are other things that, for the sake of the length of this blog, I will not mention. But these were core beliefs and big “no, no’s” in the place that was supposed to be spending time on my spiritual development. I questioned this and I guess that you could say that I was even a bit of a rebel about it. I thought of myself as a bit of a young Martin Luther making a stand against spiritual oppression.

The real change and discomfort with Christianity came when I also began to see things in scripture that were ACTUALLY IN SCRIPTURE that were just being overlooked. I dated a young girl at the time whose father was a minister. Probably still is. Though I tried extremely hard to please and not disappoint any of them, it was inevitable. One weekend I was visiting them in their home and we all were sitting at the table for lunch. We were mid meal and conversation when all of a sudden…the dad and PASTOR began to lead the family that God had entrusted him with in a barrage of dirty jokes that would make some non-believers blush. And we all laughed.

I thought about that and thought about it again. And again. Until my heart hurt. I felt like all that I’d been taught was a bunch of crap (when, in fact, a lot of what the “church” had taught me was a bunch of crap). I began to resent God and really truly struggle for my spiritual life. With no resolution I began to drink and smoke (at church camp) and sexual sin and parties followed that. Soon I was on a quick path to self-destruction. It was confirmed all the more that I’d made the right decision when through that whole process, no one even tried to come to my rescue. No on cared. Instead I was shunned. My friends didn’t really seek me out or even talk to me anymore. I felt like the woman at the well, but only if Jesus would have just come up and called her a slut and walked off hoping that she would hang herself and rid him of the trouble.

Time went on and Jesus didn’t let go. I thank Him for being the one that came to my rescue. He sought me out during a very fragile time in my life.

That’s enough of my testimony for now.
It’s midnight-thirty and I have Bible Study in the morning.
I’ll be sure to stay up late and write chapter two really soon.

Thank you Jesus for caring for me, and for showing me that your BIBLE is the only authority. That is where I get my example from. That is what teaches me how to live. Thank you for your salvation and grace in my life. Thank you for peace and joy that comes with being a true follower of you. You amaze me. Jesus, make me more like you.

-Rob