Why stay in the prison when the door is open

I have been accused since writing this blog of giving vent to my own situation so when reading let me assure you this has been written with no malice or endeavour to give vent to any feelings. It is written from a place of peace, and not making a side swipe at anything or anyone in my personal past.

This blog is not levelled as a criticism of anyone or grouping but comes from personal observations of situations I have encountered in my walk-in life. I trust this maybe an encouragement to those who feel they are locked in a prison and unable to know how to handle and share their feelings and thoughts, due to a concern of potential repercussions and unhappiness if to do so. Maybe the reason of why you have a reluctance in sharing your thoughts and feelings is fear or being aware having seen the result and its subsequent consequences for those who expressed their heart. Maybe these comments and observation will be of help in you evaluating how to get to a place of walking into a place of peace and release.

Please understand this is not written to encourage you to leave where you are, but possibly give some clarity and pointing you to Him. In listening to Him you will evaluate and view your circumstances through His eyes, making the right decisions for which He will guide and direct you in peace.

I was brought up in a setting where you were encouraged to be led by the Holy Spirit and communicate with him daily for direction and daily living. The Pastor was there as a support and not as a mediator between you and God, and in several cases, you were left to paddle your own canoe, but he was not a dictator. Yes, there were rules and standards that were applied that were not scriptural, and in hindsight neither necessary. You separated yourselves from those that were not of the same persuasion, so you became exclusive in many ways.

The 1970’s came along with what became known as the “Charismatic Movement”. This brought a lightness and changes in emphasis, and a release from some of the restrictions of the past. Out of this was born groupings of good men who gathered together and began to see things different; but in a nut shell these groupings of men fragmented over opinions and doctrine. In some of these diversities came freedom but, in other instances a strange fire. Those who were involved found that out of a heart of leadership the purpose was to bring teaching but what developed was a structure that led to what was termed as “Heavy Shepherding”. That has disintegrated but appears in some instances to have left behind a residue of leadership whilst saying they were there to serve, built a structure to be served. This structure surreptitiously caused fear of stepping out of line by the people and for those that did there were consequences of exclusion and heavy handiness in the way they were dealt with; even to the extent of being ostracised and rejected. Whilst not directly said the remainder were encouraged to cut them off. For those that observed this course of action it caused them to comply for fear of suffering the same treatment.

It would be said in some of these settings “that we are a loving open community and reaching out to those outside”. Regrettably a different standard applied once you had become a part and didn’t comply. You were loved and accepted provided you toed the line and did not voice an opinion that wasn’t agreeable with the leadership.

In making these comments I do believe that most of the individuals concerned and those in the areas as described were genuine and sincere but were oblivious of the areas that required addressing often caused by their own insecurities and hurt. They would be afraid of the free reign of the Holy Spirit and its gifting’s as they felt it was out of their control yet giving ascent and desire to its activity. An unawareness of their own needs and failings which impacted on His purposes being outworked in their own and people’s lives around them. In other words, restricted and locked up.

So, the pendulum swung to an extreme of unreasonable control restricting individuals to be who God wanted them to be. Saying in many cases the right things but in practice and reality it wasn’t as they presented and described. These of course are generalised statements and not condemning of all, settings by any means

I worked as a regional manager for many years in the motor industry whilst I was also in leadership in the church and in my work situation. I was sent around the country to deal with difficult situations and was known as “The Hatchet Man”. It is another story, but I had a breakdown and God dealt with me and I realised my style of management and leadership was not Godly and I had to change and become the real me for Him to start dealing with my character. I was one of those leaders described above for which I am not pleased to say, and God convicted me, and He began to teach me a new way and I am still in that process of learning. I found I had to back track in some cases and apologise to some I had not treated well. 

Getting back to the title of this blog. My concern is the adverse impact that people were not loved for who and where they were at; albeit it may not be verbalised but demonstrated in that way. There was not a display or evidence in many instances of an expression of the love of God in the way He demonstrates and teaches us to be. A side-lining and ignoring due to their demeanour causing the leadership to feel uncomfortable or threatened.

Does God reject us because of our mistakes and sin? Not that we become blasé but understanding we are all different with our characteristics and should be enabled to live as He made us with His help and guidance. Not becoming a clone or imitator of something that is unnatural to how God desired us but freedom to be in the way He created us with many acceptable characteristics.

The phrase often said “We are the family of God” has been used over the years but has not been evidenced in some instances or displayed of how I personally believe He intended us to function. There has been more of an emphasis, although may be subliminal with the highlighting and defining of negative elements, and at times they would be presented to individuals of their noncompliance of abiding within manmade rules, structures and dictates. In some instances, it has had the impact of unpleasant consequences that have been destructive, and not a positive impact on people’s lives.

With my work I used to travel across to different countries attending exhibitions demonstrating equipment and would often by nature of the work have conversations with gifted capable people who no longer attended a church, not out of a lack of love for the Lord but having been hurt and abused emotionally.

Many years ago, I had an interview for a job in a high security prison, it was quite an experience of being stripped of your freedom and being exposed, limited and dictated too, and searched along with doors locked behind you. It was not a life style I wanted. Surreptitiously we can allow ourselves to be locked up and sadly not realising what we have permitted, We have been guided and ultimately and in many cases unknowingly locking up in fear; but not aware of why we feel like that or in fact able in some cases to define it. We unwittingly have been cultured into a way of thinking and life style. Sadly, in some cases more reliant and more credence given to leadership than God. If that would be voiced it would be categorically denied, but the outworking demonstrates it to be the case. When speaking with those participants in that environment, they would be told you are wrong, deceived and probably cut off or side-lined for being or voicing a differing opinion and even disagreeing with the party line.

It is possible that we become programmed and yet whilst not said we must think and do things in the taught way and oblivious to the fact we are no longer thinking for ourselves. Not permitted to have an independent opinion even though it may not be a right one. We would have to confess the party line yet not believe or feel comfortable with it. We become devoid of being able to be independent in our characteristics and even lifestyle yet a part of the structured group.

It is vital that we must listen to the Holy Spirit and put our trust in Him. Maybe it’s time to walk out of the manmade prison built by fear or whatever, and into His Freedom. You say, “where do I go what do I do”. You walk and listen to His direction. If this type of thinking and abandonment to Him is alien to you as you have not been taught how too, it’s not difficult. The scripture says 1 Corinthians 2:16 “Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ”. Often recuperation is required of what in some instances has been mental abuse and bordering in some instances cultishness. One thing you can be assured of is that 1 John 1:7 “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin”Don’t be afraid of freedom or its consequences, listen to Him the one that will hold you answerable. You will not be able to turn around and say the leadership told me it was that way, it’s not my fault. In other words, if the Holy Spirit does not agree with the leadership don’t comply with them. It’s important that we walk in obedience to Him.

Having come to a conclusion that prison is not for us and walked out of the open door there is a process time of recovery, and all sorts of emotions are possible to emerge. Emotions of guilt, have we sinned? have we lost our salvation? lost friends? maligned, freedom, new lifestyle, more time, etc. I could go on and it will differ dependant on each one’s experience and circumstances. It is at this time we must be open to Him and allow Him to help us in the adjustments and correcting of our thinking. If there is someone you can safely trust to help in this process share with them with a right constructive attitude for a positive reason and outcome.

A word of warning to be careful that you do not become critical of what you have moved away from, or cut off those you have associated with, although that may occur by their actions. It is easy in these situations to then mix with those that have made the same decisions as yourself but be very careful that in this your communication is not destructive and critical of where you have been or come out of. Building on negatives in a relationship does not work and is not good for either party. Focus on the positive, the love of God and His love for all, being guided by His Holy Spirit, being spiritually normal, and normally spiritual. If you have encountered  a similar situation as described walking in His freedom may take some adjustment and even at times lonely because of your decisions, but provided you are listening to Him you will come through and know an amazing peace.

My prayer and heart is that we are a people that Christ shines and lives through us in our daily living. I am still learning, and I can’t say the process has been easy. It can and could be lonely, misunderstood and our character maligned but I would rather that and live in freedom and walk in His purposes. I have found that my thinking has changed, and brought release contentment and happiness, yet a longing for seeing church as He intended and the fragmentedness of His church to cease, and a genuine expression of love to all irrespective of who or what they are or may have done.

Church is not a building neither is it a grouping of people. Church exists because it is “with Christ”, and being joined with Christ means that you you are not able to say or act in a way that demonstrates “I will take Jesus but say no to church (His family)”. Remember “Church” is His family. When you are joined to Christ, you become part of His family. There are no “only children, no orphans” in His kingdom. It is important to live and know who you are joined to. It’s not a human element its JESUS, so live in freedom and whilst in no way do, I decry leadership or Pastors, we must not inadvertently let them be a substitute for JESUS. We should live knowing and feeling joined to JESUS, listening and being guided by His spirit. His family does not have walls or rooms of exclusivity. Heaven will not have the denominations, groupings, those only that have certain opinions. Access is gained through being Born Again. Therefore no separatism or segregation their so why here?

“His Family” does not mean independence or an excuse to do your own thing, as being in “His family” comes with responsibilities for you and others in “His family”. We are not locked into buildings to function. It also means a reaching out to those effecting and impacting those beyond “His family”, and an interaction and friendship with those around us in our daily life.

This previous blog may be of interest Dissagreement is not Disunity
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1 Response to Why stay in the prison when the door is open

  1. John & Christine says:

    Very true, Ian, and a considered, thought-provoking piece, which I can indeed imagine will not be appreciated by some who may feel ‘got at’ -(ie: their conscience is not at peace!). We must always remember that ‘church’ is a human expression of His Kingdom. We pray that ‘church’ rediscovers the joy, where it has been lost, of simply living out what Jesus wants us to be doing. Systems, methodology and church management strategies will never be able to replace where the Holy Spirit is given the freedom He needs to do His work.
    Keep strong, keep loving the Lord with all you have, and above all… BE…all He has made you.
    You are greatly loved and appreciated.
    Love in Jesus

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