Spiritual Journey without a church family
“I have been studying the Bible intently for the past 2 years.” Rick was intently focused on me as he said those opening words. I was a captive audience. It was after church and most everyone was gone now. Rick was a very intelligent person who had a hunger to learn and grow in understanding of God’s Word. Conversations like this were becoming common place now. He would call me during the week, rarely to ask a question mostly to tell me what he now understood about the Bible.
At this point he was looking at the books of prophecy and primarily the book of Revelation. He had told me that the locust spoken of in the book of Revelation were likely military helicopters they had a face like a man (looking inside the front window at the pilot) and the sound of many of them would have sounded like locust to an ancient prophet who had never seen anything like it before.
“2And he opened the bottomless pit, and smoke arose out of the pit like the smoke of a great furnace. So the sun and the air were darkened because of the smoke of the pit. 3 Then out of the smoke locusts came upon the earth. And to them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. 4 They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads. 5 And they were not given authority to kill them, but to torment them for five months. Their torment was like the torment of a scorpion when it strikes a man. 6 In those days men will seek death and will not find it; they will desire to die, and death will flee from them.
7 The shape of the locusts was like horses prepared for battle. On their heads were crowns of something like gold, and their faces were like the faces of men. (Rev. 9:2-7)”
Rick had mostly dropped out of church his visit on this Sunday night was the first time I had seen him and his family in about 6 months. It was clear Rick was deciding to do this spiritual journey thing by himself. Among one of the last things he said to me was…
“The Antichrist is Ronald Reagan”
Why Ronald Reagan? For those of you who remember President Reagan you will remember President Reagan was Shot by John Hinckley to impress Jodie Foster (an actress). Hinckley fired a few rounds at President Ronald Reagan. He hits Reagan in the armpit, and nearly kills Brady white house press secretary, with a shot to the head. Hinckley also wounded Secret Service agent Tim McCarthy.
So how does that make Ronald Reagan the Antichrist? Among the prophesies concerning the Antichrist in the Bible is this one from Revelations 13:3
3 And I saw one of his heads as it were wounded to death; and his deadly wound was healed: and all the world wondered after the beast.
There was no talking to Rick at this point. The primary reason he had popped in was to see if there would be room for him to teach interested members of the congregation what he was learning. Rick was on a mission. The Christian community was ignorant when it came to Biblical prophecy and most pastor’s (he probably considered me in that group) were also ignorant and unable to teach the scriptures correctly.
The more Rick studied on his own outside of the Christian community and accountability the more convinced he was that he was right. He had found a handful of authors and teachers that he agreed with and that was comfort enough to plow forward.
I was able to strike an agreement with Rick: “Rick, Ronald Reagan will fulfill his term in office and retire as a former president. When that happens will you promise me that you will bring your family back to church? God intended that we learn and grow together. No one was ever created to be a lone ranger for Jesus.” He smiled and agreed that if by some miracle, he was wrong and I was right he would come back to church.
Rick kept that promise. Reagans presidency ended and Rick came back to church with his family for one Sunday only. We both knew why he was there and that he would not be back. Why? Rick wanted to be his own church. The church of Rick. Attendance (1). Sadly, he was keeping his beautiful family from the great community of faith. The place where they would all be loved, encouraged, corrected, served, taught to correctly handle the Word of God.
We can be SINCERE and be SINCERELY WRONG. What is at stake in our spiritual journey is… Eternity. I have often talked about how wonderful the church family has been to me over the years and how much they have helped not only me but my entire family. One of the things I am grateful for is how the church family and pastoral leadership has kept me grounded in faith and Biblically sound in doctrine. Sound Biblical preaching and teaching have prevented me from falling into traps set by the enemy to destroy my faith in Christ. From my childhood through my formidable teenage years I was surrounded by people who taught sound doctrine and lived it out in their daily lives.
A spiritual journey without the Christian community will always lead to falling away from God. You were formed to be in God’s wonderful family…
“God’s unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into His own family by bringing us to Himself through Jesus Christ.” Eph. 1:5 (NLT)
It is in family that we learn, grow, love and find our purpose, mission and calling. In the family, we are called into accountability. The rough edges of our personality are softened.
It is dangerous to try to make this journey outside of God’s family. We need each other. In God’s family, we thrive.