What defines you? 

  
There are so may things telling a us what we should do, how we should look, what we should feel, how we should worship, and how we should act as Christians. Shouldn’t we be lead by what God is telling us rather than the church itself? I feel compelled to write this, not to defile the church in any ways shape or form, but to show you that we should rely on God. Your doctrine can’t save you-but Christ can. So why do we get wrapped up in this “doctrine”?  

There’s so times today we define ourselves by our doctrines. We rely on it to much. We pride ourselves on what church we attend and how we are received there. Now I’m not judging, I’m just writing what I feel like needs to be said. I am not Baptist. I’m not Assembly. I’m not Methodist . I’m not Pentecostal or Catholic. I am a sinner who was saved by the blood of the cross. I was then remade into the image of Christ. And that is why I am a Christian and That is the doctrine I stand on.  
Do I sound harsh? Maybe… But it’s true. If all these doctrines didn’t have Jesus centered around them, then it’s a cult or a club. If all these doctrines fell through, then what do we have to stand on? Some say Christ, but truly dig deep and think here. Are you really? 

Why am I asking this? Because I was not standing on the blood of Jesus alone. I was to caught up in doctrines that I couldn’t see Jesus standing in front of me wanting to lead me. How sad is that? I was to caught up in “Playing Church” than “Being the Church.” 

A church is a building. If that building didn’t say the words “Church” on it- would it still be a church? Now days, probably not. Back in Paul’s time, yes. Why do we think that since “Church” is written on the side that we have to act fake. We have to dress nice. That we must put on our best behaviors? In reality Church should be the place that we act most like ourselves at. It’s the only place on earth that we should be able to go to and fall apart at. It should be a place that if we mess up, our fellow members will encourage us and treat us with respect. They will over look our failures and help us get through it… In Proverbs 20:9-it says,” Who can say,”I have made my heart clean. I am pure of sin.”?” – no one can. Only Jesus can cleanse us. But Why does the church feel like it’s a country club? Like we cleanse ourselves from sin. Think about it; We only take certain people. We gossip, put down , and make people feel like the devil. We have made church into a Worldly place. So worldly our classes have to have games and gizmos and gadgets in order to keep their attention. How sad. 

Why am I writing this? For a few reasons. 1. I was that person & struggle to not be that person. 2. Someone out there is feeling this and needs to know its ok. 3. And because there was a church in the Bible that went to worldly- Jesus despite it. (You can read about that in the New Testament) 

I remember growing up in church. I was attending church before I was even born. I got saved at 9 years old and although I had ask Jesus to be my savior, I still had a long road ahead of me. You see at 9 I didn’t understand the Lord of your life part. He might had saved my soul from Hell, but did I really give my life to him? 

I never was a rebellious child. I often was called “goodie two shoes”, but I was never trying to be. Yes I was made fun of, emotionally hurt, and I was trying hid it physically. No one knew what storm I was hiding. I remember struggling with my self Image in High school. Everyone was tiny, and here I was- taller than most of the students and I wasn’t as skinny, my face wasn’t as clear, and although I floated from group to group I didn’t have as many friends as one thought. I tried every diet out there. And let me say this to anyone going through this, it’s not worth it.in Proverbs 20:12- it says, ” the hearing ear and the seeing eye, the Lord has made them both.” I can quote more verses like this. He made each part of us, and knows everything about us, but yet we feel defined by what society tells us. When we should be worried about what God tells us. You are not defined by your height. You are not defined by your weight. You are not defined by your hair color, your shoe size, your ability in sports or extracurricular activities. In Proverbs19:8, it says-“He who gets wisdom loves his own soul. He who keeps understanding will find good.” I didn’t know that then. I didn’t love myself. This isn’t a arrogant love, it’s not conceded, but it’s more of a respect that I didn’t know. You see- Flaws and all, Jesus loves me. He loved me through it all. And I am not defined by anything the media says or what others think. I wished I seen that sooner…. Like they say hindsight is 20/20, and it’s true. I started cutting down on my food intake and exercised more. Then one day I thought “who needs food”, so I cut it down even more. My exercising started to become more and more, and I ate less and less. I hid it well. I ate in front of certain people and when I had no one around I would skip meals. Your body isn’t made for this. It hurts you more than you know. Slowly I got out of this slowly…turtle speed…but even then I didn’t realize that God was standing in front of me begging me to let him help. 

I went to church , heard a preach, home again – and repeat. 

It wasn’t until college I realized God is who I needed. A girl who had been in church 18-19 years at the time , just realized she needed God? But I was saved at 9? As confused as you can imagine I was, I started searching for answers. I got so mad I stopped searching and started skipping church. 

After a semester of this, I knew I had to do something. I began to cling to my Bible more, reading, praying. Then one night, at a BCM Revival , the preacher asked if anyone was struggling with their faith. As much as I hated admitting it, I looked up to pay more attention. He told me how Some of us may have asked God to save us, but never gave our lives to him. My heart dropped. I knew just what he was saying. It was me he was talking to. He told us we could mark it in stone that we was saved and give our lives to God and then the devil couldn’t try to tell us we wasn’t. 

From the second role on the left side of the room this girl got up. Tears in my eyes I laid my life in Gods hands. I remember the feeling of peace finally rush over me. It’s what God wanted to give to me for so long. I was fighting him, I gave up. – now I would love to say after this my life was easy and breezy no more doubts nothing, but I can’t. I still struggled , but it wasn’t with the devil. It was a new struggle within myself.

 I was never taught how to worship God. As long as I could remember, you sat, listened, silence was prayer, and you left. I attended two church’s Wednesday nights in college,  both challenged me to find out how to worship. David raised his hand, some sobbed, other prophets like Elijah had to be still and listen . No one was the same… In Curiosity, I prayed- “God why can’t I praise you like the others? Why do I hold back?” 

Well if you ask God a question- he will answer…. He told me, “Because you won’t allow me to fill you.” In shock, I began to cry. It was true. I trusted God with certain parts of my life, but I wouldn’t let him show me how to worship…. I then slowly….turtle speed again….I slowly let him… Then I stopped. 

I was embarrassed, I felt odd. This was going against everything I was taught. Then over time, I heard God say, “Your not worshipping mankind. You should care what I think of you.” 

After 23 almost 24 years of searching, I finally understand some what. It doesn’t matter what we wear. It doesn’t matter our size, hair color, weight…God made and loves us with flaws and all… He died for me, when I didn’t even know him. He knew me. He didn’t have to, but he loved me. He watched me struggle with weight issues, negativity, bullies. He wanted to hold me, fix my hurts, and show me he cared, but I never seen him. It was if I was a child who had ran away from home. Ashamed and feeling horrible for thinking she was a burden to the ones whom she loved. God never left me. He loved me still. As I crawled back to him broken, scarred up, abused emotionally, dirty from head to toe. He ran to me just as if I was the, Prodigal son in the parable he told. 

I now see what he is trying to say. We raise our hands etc at ball games, concerts, etc. So why couldn’t we raise our hands to God in praise? Why can’t we pray aloud when we feel like we need to? In the end of all of this I’ve learned that you do what God leads you to do. My worship maybe different than yours. God may want you to cry more, I may sing more, who knows. 

When we get to heaven we may find out we are arguing over nothing, but until then I’m going to stand on the doctrine of Christ-Not a man written doctrine. I am a Christian. I may attend a church that worships similar to me-but I will not be defined by my doctrine. When people look at me I want them to see a Christian who is trying to do the best for Christ. Not a person who says they attended a Church Sunday . 

If this is like you, please search and ask God the questions I did. I fail everyday at trusting him fully, but I know he never fails me. Proverbs 18:24, says”A man who has friends must be friendly, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a Brother.” That friend is Jesus and he will show you the answers, but you must be patience with him. This isn’t a story that is to make you leave your church – but to let you know that everyone has to search for their own way. Don’t feel ashamed of your relationship with God. It’s so precious. I have to remember that I am loved by him and it doesn’t matter if my husband hate my hair cut, God still loves me. I pray that in some way my small testimony helped you. Find a church that you feel comfortable in and that you know you can praise Jesus in. One day we won’t get to go to church so freely. What will you do then? Well I’m still going to stand on my faith with Christ. I hope you do to. 

-Marli 

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