Cease The Struggle
By: Danny Wallace
"Prove you're worthy to be my friend, and I'll include you in my circle of 'friendly acquaintances.' As time goes on, and, if things go well, maybe you can even show yourself worthy of being in my inner circle of friends."
Does that sound appealing to anyone? If so, you're most likely in need of far more help than this article can offer. As silly as the opening paragraph sounds, it sums up how organized religion operates. I'll be the first to stipulate that there is a public, and "well worded" promotional piece that would lead the unsuspecting outsider to believe religion welcomes everyone with open arms, but nothing could be farther from the truth. The fact is, you can be a born-again, water-dunked, testifying Christian, and still be on the outside of religion's rigid requirements. There is only "One" who welcomes everyone with open arms. His name is, Jesus. Tell me His denomination, if you can.
My testimony is known around the world, thanks to CBN, TBN, and various other media outlets and publications. I've even spoken in several organized churches from time to time because of that exposure. When I started out in ministry, I did what every other person who is launching a ministry in America does. I hired publicists and booking agents to break past the guards that scrutinize access to religion's influential pulpits.
Like Grandma cutting the end off of a perfect ham, it's what I thought you were supposed to do. Of course, one must first decide which “religious circuit” they want to join. There can be no crossing of club lines in the world of religion. I still get a sick, sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach even recalling it. In short, I would personally rather receive a diagnosis of leprosy, accompanied by a sentence of isolation to an island of "one" than to ever again be a part of that degrading process.
The whole fiasco can be summed up by my opening paragraph. Prove you're worthy to be our friend and we'll include you, for the moment, in our circle of "friendly acquaintances." If we like what you say, and approve of how you present yourself, possibly you can work your way up the ranks of our splendid favor. Seriously, I must move on - I'm gagging. Jesus came to give abundant life, not endless death.
Concerned that I might explode all over everyone or worst yet, implode within myself, I struck a deal with Papa long ago regarding organized religion. I promised God that I would step through any door that He opened and shoved me through. What I would not do is make any effort whatsoever to push past the guards to access religion's grand approval. If it comes to that or leprosy - give me leprosy.
I'm speaking by special invitation at an event very close to my heart in the spring of 2017. The Founder of the organization and organizer of the special event contacted me recently with a few questions to assist her in scheduling a church while I am in that part of the country. She wondered what particular religious denomination I consider myself a part of, knowing the pastors in her area will surely want to know. I must make clear, the lady is precious, with no ulterior motive of her own, other than wanting to secure additional speaking dates while I am there as the keynote speaker for her organization.
I assured her that, other than Christian, there is no box to isolate my faith, and outside of any familiarity with many due to my much-publicized testimony, I'm quite confident that I rank as nothing and nobody to those diligent guards charged with protecting religion's pulpits. This precedent holds true regardless of which region of the country we live.
Ironically, at the moment I received the text, I was head over heels involved in counseling a young man who had just been asked to leave his church. His recent diagnosis of HIV, and their failure to "pray away the gay," left the church leaders with no choice but to wish him well as they showed him the door. (Refer to paragraph one)
Considering the things of actual importance I attend to each day, the last thing I needed was a precious lady languishing on my behalf to push open doors God most likely wanted to be closed. I assured her that if I were to speak at an organized church in her area, God would make that place abundantly clear to her and they would welcome me with open arms, minus all of the moral qualifications. If not, I am thrilled to speak at her event and return home to continue reaching out to those whom Papa has trusted into my care.
Are you struggling to fit into a box never designed for you? Cease the struggle. You're already IN with the only One that matters. Jesus loves you - Jesus accepts you - and Jesus approves of you. In you, God sees the perfect sacrifice of His only Son. Thankfully, He sees the same perfection in those who will never grant you entrance to their exclusive circle of friends.