Q. I have experienced organized religion…in fact suffered greatly because of it. I do not trust judgmental institutions…people that proclaim holiness, fear and control, pietism at face value, and hypocrisy.
I have, too, and I don't either.
Unfortunately, large, organized churches are run by fallible men and women. Men and women are by nature flawed and subject to dishonesty, judgmentalism and hypocrisy. This is the human condition called "sin."
The Religious Right
Surprisingly, Jesus didn't like hypocritical, judgmental people and institutions either. In fact, he warned against the "religious right" or the "moral majority" of his day. He called these Pharisees a "brood of vipers" whose father was the devil!
Jesus wasn't the only one. John the Baptist also "ripped" the religious hypocrites.
"But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize, he denounced them. 'You brood of snakes!' he exclaimed. 'Who warned you to flee God's coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God" (Matthew 3:7-8, NLT).
That's not very complementary, is it?
Woes Upon Moral Majority
In Matthew chapter 23 Jesus pronounced a series of "woes" upon the hypocritical teachers of his day. He said they were "hypocrites," "blind guides," "whitewashed tombs," and other choice words.
So you are in good company when you proclaim that you dislike organized religion and the hypocrites who run these institutions.
Jesus Loved Outcasts
It's amazing to note that Jesus never called outcasts, prostitutes, hated tax-collectors or even common criminals bad names like he used for the Pharisees. Instead, He was gracious and loving to the most hated in society.
God Loves Humble People
Outward manifestations of a righteous life are not something God looks for among His children. Instead, He seeks men who are humble and lowly - not given to bragging or an exalted sense of self-esteem. It seems like we worship at the altar of high self-esteem in our culture. But, this is not what God likes.
God Loves Those who need Help
God loves those who see and admit they are flawed and in need of help. He loves those who turn away from their sins and look to His provision for their sinful ways - Jesus Christ.
We are Not to Forsake Assembling Together
While the Lord does tell us "not to forsake our own assembling together" (Hebrews 10:25), He doesn't demand we go to large, institutional churches to worship Him.
House Churches&Small Fellowships
In fact, the earliest first-century believers met in house churches. These were most like our current day home bible-studies whose members meet throughout our communities at various times of the week.
Early Church Practices
When the earliest believers met, they studied "the apostles' teaching, and devoted themselves to fellowship and to sharing in meals (including the Lord's Supper), and to prayer…And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. …They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord's Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity - all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people" (Acts 2:428-46, NLT).
Following Historical Practices
You can do the same if you like. Perhaps you could look for a smaller church or more informal meeting place. Sometimes churches meet in school auditoriums so they can send more money for missions and the poor. Most churches encourage home bible studies and you may benefit from these as well.
I say…"Go for it!" God will bless your life with new purpose and meaning if you do.