Dear friend Caio,
I want you to know that all I am writing comes from a troubled, distressed heart, looking for someone who speaks of the true Gospel of Jesus, and I believe I have found this person.
I don’t know how I am to start, but unfortunately I know how I am going to end…
I love God. I was baptized, and I know I am a new creation in Christ Jesus. I am 28 now.
Unfortunately I see and live amidst a woeful scenario that involves what should have been the relief from all burdens and yokes of humanity and the solution to all evil: the Good News Jesus that announced to all humankind.
But our reality is quite different. I see and swallow a cold, cheap and empty bargain with God; a forced exchange of favors; an obligation imposed on a God who loves us; the use of the Law and the so precious Old Testament to justify abuses; a rape against the Holy Scripture!
Would Paul throw up? And how!
I am always amidst a wild persecution.
Ah, the prophetic gifts… I see men and women pursuing the “black belt” in Prophecy! How disgusting!
I have to listen to stories like that of a friend who went with a relative of his to one of these “gatherings of the hysterical”. He was given a word of “divine revelation” that said God was already providing for him and his companion to get married to each other. But the “spirit” that revealed this did not know he and the woman were brother and sister!
In some barns I visited, I found more union, affect, respect and truth among the animals there than I have seen in our meetings.
Nowadays it is shameful and humiliating for me to go to a “church” and be forced to “pick” a gift (preferably that of a Prophet); otherwise, I will have a “spirit of rebellion” against my church.
I have been pressured to wear the uniform and take part in endless monthly campaigns for the much-desired prosperity.
I can’t take it anymore!
And I’ve been a convert for three years only!
Where does 1 Corinthians 13 fit in all this stuff?
Loving your neighbor is no longer preached!
And even Jesus’ life—where does it fit? All the talk is about Prosperity Campaigns! The Anointing Oil Campaign, the Israel Salt Campaign, the House Purchasing Campaign, the Holy Fire Campaign for the Peugeot Golden Key…
What about the passages of James 2:14-18, Matthew 6:19-20, 25-34, which speak so intensely to my soul?
What do I do with this draw, this fervor that these passages stir in me? I wonder if I am the one who is wrong. Shouldn’t I be concerned about helping the needy? Is everything revealed in the gospels and in the book of Acts history only? Were the churches at that time also similar to TV audience shows? Did Peter, as a “top entertainer”, also held the spectators until the right time for them to speak in tongues, give their offerings, raise their hands…?
By the way, my “pastor” woke up the other day with a brilliant idea: To change from “Pr.” (Pastor) to “Ap.” (Apostle)—and don’t think I’m a member of the IURD.*
Well, now I am closing this brief letter that, like me, is so confused. I do not know how things are going to be; I just know how they should be…
I just carry on, my friend Caio, while I keep believing…
A hug to you,
My dear brother,
Grace, Peace and Communion!
Many people ask me what I think should be done in order that something new happened to the “church” so that it turned back to its essence.
This is my answer:
“The impossible. Therefore it does not have to be tried, because it would entail a self-annihilation that the ‘church’ would never bear, as it never did.”
I believe that what we should do is revolutionarily simple:
The church is made up of people. There are buildings where some churches still gather. But such places, where besides audiences, there are also believers in God’s Grace according to the Gospel, are very few now.
In most cases, what we call the “church” is a denial of what the Good News proposes as communion for people.
Lacking a Good Place where the Word of Life is taught, people had better start gathering at friends’ homes to pray, read the Word, praise with a simple heart, do the breaking of bread, meditate, and teach one another according to each one’s gift. And no one should be anything in this group but what is according to the gift of grace they have received.
This is what I recommend if there is not a place that recognizes it is just a place, not The Place.
Up to the 4th century, this was how the Church lived.
I have nothing against temples. I like temples and good public meetings, and I know how important they are.
But the way things are going, it is getting very hard for people who want something serious.
This “model” that is being set among us in an increasingly powerful way was never acknowledged nor taught by the New Testament.
In a time like ours, when long-distance communication is so easy too, there is no reason not to start creating large brotherly communion groups. This, I repeat, can be done with or without the existence of a Temple-Place. If there is one, that’s great. If not, such groups will still be better than the current “thing”.
You may ask: “What power is in this discreet church?”
The kingdom of Heaven is like leaven: It starts growing from the inside until the whole dough is leavened.
The “marketing” is not the image projection, but the simple, kind and generously humane life that everyone lives.
“If you love one another, the world will believe”, the Lord promised.
Evangelization without love is religious proselytism; it is just another religion business.
Even things that start off well can turn into a movement or wave of human vanities; then, everything is over before long.
This church that is the Church is disliked by politicians, who need the “flock” gathered in great numbers, and by the pastors who live from the worship of the gigantism of their own visible ministries.
I offer this suggestion as the only way I see in the New Testament.
The other forms of expression are religious and play their role of historical phenomenon. They will never end. And nobody needs to fight them. It is wonderful when they serve the Kingdom. When they do not, it is disgraceful.
All this should be no surprise to us anymore.
The more the brothers and sisters feel like brothers and sisters according to the simplicity of faith, the more revolutionary the Church will be, and the more protected from the Dragon’s attack it will be (see Revelation 12:13-18).
Therefore, leave that place and look for a fellowship of love and faith. There are a few Good Places left. And if you do not find one, you are bound to find brothers and sisters anyway: They are everywhere!
Those who met Jesus no longer lose their faith over such things.
I know you will find the best way. Count on me as a brother on the journey!
In Him, who did not leave us on our own,
Translation: F. R. Castelo Branco
From the original “NÃO AGÜENTO MAIS!”
* Note: IURD stands for Igreja Universal do Reino de Deus (Universal Church of the Kingdom of God), a Brazil-based neopentecostal church whose message consists almost solely of the so-called prosperity theology. In Brazil, their teachings are spread out through its four television networks. For more information, follow the link