Thanks for joining us on our introductory blog of “church on the back deck”. Religion is one of those things where people can be anywhere on a spectrum of what they choose to believe and how this belief affects their interactions with other people.
Religion can be all about peace, love and acceptance for some people, but it can be about rules and regulations for others. For those whose religion is about rules and regulations, this can dramatically affect their acceptance of other people.
In talking to people on both sides of this thought, there are a few facts that have become very clear.
- Almost everyone would associate God with love.
- People who have been judged, and not accepted by certain religious people, do not feel unaccepted by God, they feel unaccepted by the church.
- People who judge other people, and do not accept them, base their lack of acceptance on what certain parts of the bible say, and equate the entire bible as God.
This lack of acceptance by some people is one of the reasons for the division we see in our world today and I think all of us would agree that there is way too much division in our world. One of the beautiful parts of the bible has some wise words for us to follow when it comes to division.
Romans 12:18 says,
If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
What great words these are! One thing I am certain of is that God is a God of peace and not a God of division. Unfortunately, there are several parts of the bible that promote division. This is where the difficulty comes in, we either have to hold the bible loosely and see a God of peace, love and acceptance, or we make the bible God and struggle because we also see a God of legalism and division, which leads to conflict and, in some cases, even hate.
Church on the back deck is committed to showing the world a God of peace, love and acceptance. In order to do this, part of our mission will be to walk through the bible to highlight some of the beautiful things that God would very well have said, and to look at some of the not so beautiful things, that God very well would not have said.
Before those of you who equate the bible with God check out and go away, we need to remember a couple of things. The bible was written by human beings and we all know human beings are flawed. Each of us can relate to thinking we had a “word” from God, only to discover later, it was not a word from God but instead our own thoughts that led us in the wrong direction.
We also need to acknowledge that the dead sea scrolls contain the oldest texts we have with regard to the bible. The dead sea scrolls were written between 150 BC and 70 AD, and the oldest text found is from Leviticus. The issue here is the events in Leviticus were said to have happened around 1450 BC, which means some 1300 years passed by before writing any of this down. I’m sure each of you are like me, I have trouble recalling what happened a week ago in its exact context, so to have to remember 1300 years, well that would be impossible.
The other reason we are calling this church on the back deck is to expand our view of where we do church. Traditional thinking means that church is done in an actual building. This would be in line with old testament writings where the place you accessed God was in the most holy place, which was an inner room where only the high priest could enter.
Why would we think God would be regulated to an inner most room, or even inside a building? When we hear someone in a church say, “God is in this place”, what changed from the time we stepped in the building from when we were just outside? Was God not with us when we were just outside the building? Of course, God was with us then, God is with us everywhere.
So, church on the back-deck desires to expand our view of where church can be conducted. Not that going to church is wrong, because it’s not, but the thought that we have to go to a church building to experience God is wrong. After all, what better place to experience God than outside with the creation of God. In all reality, this could be the place where we actually feel closest to God.
Church on the back deck will explore a different way for us to experience God. This will include where we do church, how we read the bible, and how we see God. We will explore the question, “has God been misrepresented” in some of what we have been taught and how we view God.
Our intent is not to destroy anyone’s belief system, but perhaps to strengthen it. Over time, it seems we have limited our understanding of God strictly to the bible. God is so much bigger than that. We also see God in nature, in the universe and in the basic structure of life, and we need to take all of this into consideration when trying to understand God.
When we take all of this into consideration and open our mind to look at the entirety of what the bible says, it becomes very clear that much of it would not be what God would have said at all. The reason this is so important to recognize is because some people use the bible to judge and condemn other people, which, I believe, is actually a direct contradiction to what God would want.
As we take this journey together, my hope is that it will allow for less division, conflict, and hate, and replace it with more peace, love and acceptance, for our world.