Manufactured Love: Problems with Playing Church Today

Written and presented by Shawn McCraney in Murray, UT.

In this episode of “Heart of the Matter,” Shawn McCraney discusses the concept of “manufactured love” within modern churches, critiquing how religious organizations often conditionally extend love based on conformity to their specific doctrines and cultures. He contrasts this with the agape love that Jesus commanded, which is selfless, sacrificial, and enduring regardless of differences. Shawn emphasizes that true faith and love should be unconditional and not bound by institutional expectations. He also announces his upcoming appearance on the Radio Free Mormon podcast and introduces “Yeshuans,” a new faith expression focusing on individual relationships with God without organizational intermediation. The show concludes with an introduction to founding Yeshuan member Grady Risely and an invitation for live calls.

Introduction

Live from Salt Lake City, this is Heart of the Matter FULL CIRCLE, and I am Shawn McCraney.

Prayer.

Upcoming Podcast Appearance

As an FYI, there is a popular podcast out there called, Radio Free Mormon. I am going to be their guest tomorrow night.

You can access this show Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024, at 6:20 PM MTN time as I talk with RFM and Bill Reel about our view of the Bible, faith, and the LDS church being accepted into Christianity.

The link is in the description below.

Hard as it might be to believe or accept, we maintain that all expressions of faith are headed in the right direction, but ultimately, we see that the best expression, all things considered, is FAITH without RELIGION – and that is going to take some getting used to for many folks.

We thank all of you for tuning in and giving this content at least a chance – that is all we ask from anyone – consideration given in light of the contextual biblical narrative.

Faith and Leadership in Modern Churches

Importance of Faith vs. Non-Faith

In the first show, we talked about the importance of faith as compared to non-faith.

Problems with Church Leadership

Last week, we introduced the first in a series where we talked about the first problem people face today who try to play church and that problem occurs when mortal men and women pretend to somehow be worthy, holy, and/or closer to God in leadership and all the problems that can occur when this is accepted by their congregates.

Manufactured Love in Churches

Tonight, I want to discuss a second problem created by modern church playing today and that is what I am calling the presence of “manufactured love.”

This is dicey, nuanced at best, but real in many organized churches.

Fellowship and Love in Churches

One of the major propositions people in favor of organized religion today make is the idea that within such there is fellowship (this can be true) and that within that fellowship there are great opportunities to love and serve one another (which can also be true – at least to a certain extent).

Some churches are really pretty good at creating these environments and are able to establish what appear to be solid cultures among themselves, which allows them to create some excellent programs and events for their members.

Many people fortunate enough to belong to such institutions often describe themselves as having a second family with all the associated feelings of really belonging and being a part of a “support system” where they truly experience love.

And while it’s probable that such groups do exist somewhere in the world, I suggest that most of them, even if they appear open and accepting, are basking in brotherly love and friendships based on their unified beliefs and lifestyles (you know, liberals with liberals and conservatives with conservatives) rather than in the love that Yeshua demands.

The Process of Integration in Churches

For most churches – except for maybe the staunchly reformed which vet people who walk through their doors – but for most churches, there is a standard approach that is used to draw people in and to keep them.

It looks sort of like this:

A visitor or investigator to the church is initially “love bombed,” which might be best described as bathing a newcomer or investigator in attention, smiles, and with acceptance and encouragement.

This love bombing continues as long as the individual shows interest in belonging and shows up to prove it.

Once a person joins, is baptized, or becomes a member through whatever means this includes (they join a small group or committee, they sing in the choir, they volunteer), the love bombing slowly diminishes – which is pretty normal – and settles into friendliness and acceptance.

However, most love is based on the new member both showing interest and, in time, evidencing conformity to what I call, the eccletheoculture of the respective church.

Two-Stage Christianity

Obviously, eccletheoculture is a compound word that collectively represents a person’s willingness to embrace the ecclesia, the theology, and the culture that orbits in and around the group.

I call this phenomenon Two-Stage Christianity, where in the first stage, the religious empire and its members accept the individual’s conversion story but the second stage includes their willingness to conform to the existing eccletheoculture – whatever it might be.

Most people gravitate toward the church that best suits them in these distinct ways – its ecclesia (the other members), its doctrine and theology, and the culture that these things create as an operational by-product.

The Reality of Church Love

In the first stage, the Religious Organization, its leaders, and members collectively and tacitly seem to say,

“Come as you are! We love you. God loves you. Come join us! You are welcome. Be baptized! Yeah Yeah Yeah! You are so, loved.”

Who wouldn’t love this, right?

Depending on the tenor of the denomination, however, the love bombing continues for, you know, maybe a few weeks, a month, maybe a year, but once it becomes obvious that the individual is failing to adjust to the demands of the ecclesia, the theology, and the culture, the brotherly love fades, and any semblance of agape love vanishes.

Conditional Love in Churches

Stage two might be described sort of like this (though such things are rarely spoken),

“Now that you have joined us, sister, brother – now that you have seen how things go on around here we feel like enough time has passed where you should be –”

  • Giving to the church in money and/or time
  • Giving up your habits, dress, friends, time, money, manner of speaking, love for the world, and/or whatever else the eccletheoculture demands

Evidences of a conforming spirit might include that the person stops living with their boyfriend or girlfriend, or they lay verbal claim to specific doctrines, practices, rites, and rituals, or they embrace the cultural environs of the group.

Cultural religious conformity in Stage two is proven when the individual starts really getting involved, speaking and thinking like the leaders, echoing their sentiments or manner of speech, and behaving accordingly.

The conforming is all relative to the denomination in question and can range from minor adjustments to major, but when and if a person in that specific group fails to conform to that group’s specific but unspoken demands, especially to the ones that are held in their highest priority, they will

  1. Experience a lessening of love and acceptance.
  2. Experience more social distancing than the conforming believers receive.
  3. Ultimately, if their non-conformity is deemed too egregious, they will be alienated in the second stage altogether, which is typically explained away by the faithful as they were “never converted” in the first place so ostracizing them can be justified.

The Nature of God’s Love

God’s View on Institutionalized Love

In the face of this, I suggest that most of the “love” that people experience in institutionalized religion is manufactured because it is almost always conditional, and it is always predicated on some level of eccletheocultured conformity.

This is a second major negative of playing church because many people construe these expressions of manufactured love as representing God’s ways and see those who are on the receiving end of it as deserving.

God knew this about human beings, which is why He never described brick and mortar church as what He desired after the end of the former age.

Biblical Teaching on God’s Love

What does the Bible teach about God’s love?

Before we describe it, let’s quickly rehearse how important this love is among believers. John wrote the following in his 1st Epistle,

1st John 3:22-23 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

Here at the GreatNewsNetwork, we ardently maintain and support these two commands – belief in Yeshua and to love one another – as He commanded. Period.

Nature of Faith and Love

Faith is NOT proof. It is not knowing. Faith is accepting certain evidences as supporting one’s belief.

I take the evidences around me as enough to have faith in the existence of a living God. Others do not. That is all we are talking about, folks when it comes to faith – choosing to see evidences as worthy of faith in Him.

Christian faith is followed by choosing to love as Christ loved.

This is what is meant by faith and love.

Yeshua’s Commandment on Love

When Yeshua spoke to His apostles, we remember that He said,

John 13:34 A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.

Why does Yeshua tell them that He gives them “a new commandment” when the command to “love neighbor as self” was stated all the way back in Leviticus 19:18

Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD.

The answer is found in the fact that the Leviticus passage speaks of the Nation loving others as they love themselves, but Yeshua’s new commandment was for them to love others “as HE loved them.”

Characteristics of Yeshua’s Love

How did Yeshua love?

Selflessly, sacrificially, and in my estimation, insufferably. He loved according to the Fruit of the Spirit, which is through the traits of:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace

, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23

The word love is bandied about today in all sorts of misappropriated ways. Yes, there is love that is erotic or romantic, and yes, there is brotherly and friendly love; there is also love for parents and family, but the love that the scripture describes as “agape” is always – ready – always, “selfless, sacrificial and because of this can be literally seen to human beings as insufferable.

“God with us” loved the world in these specific ways that transcend human flesh. His love for His Father was in this way. His love was not emotionally driven – it was deontologically driven, meaning it was done by choice because it was the will of His Father and not because He felt like it and not because it would create the best end results.

Deontological Ethics and Agape Love

Deontological ethics relative to God are actions that He considers right and morally good not always because the act itself produces some beneficial result.

Deontological ethics state that some acts are morally obligatory regardless of their consequences or results.

In other words, agape love expressed will not always produce value or strength or growth in a group, cause, or world, but is given and acted upon because God commands it.

When a group chooses to operate by agape love, the group’s unity and effectiveness are often lost as they are forced to focus on just getting along in the face of innumerable differences – not similarities.

Philos love thrives in sameness; agape love exists only in difficulty. Brick and mortars ostracize and subtly eradicate difficult people because they don’t empower the group.

Agape love allows strangeness, difficulty, and difference to not only exist but to thrive.
This will drive away people who cannot bear it which weakens the group.

The Challenge of Agape Love in Churches

Can you see how this love is often counter to playing church where such love might produce the antithesis to the bottom line or the results a pastor seeks in numbers, a well-oiled machine, and growth?

Yeshua’s command on how to love can get lost very quickly in the way we measure love in a group. Many think that love among people who agree, are like-minded, or are compliant is His love in action but usually fail to realize that all they are practicing is conditional love, not agape.

His love is evidenced when it requires us to sacrifice our feelings, opinions, and views (which are contrary to our will, ways, and the cultures we enjoy) and to insufferably choose to receive and support others – especially when they try and challenge us.

Religious organizations typically fail in exercising His love in this way because this love will not serve the bottom line, will not lend to uniformity, and will not cause members to enjoy their church experience.

The True Nature of Agape Love

This is another glaring reason why God did not choose to have His body or earthly kingdom represented in organized groups – again, because His love will always take a back seat to the orders of the institution.

Agape love exists in the face of people’s weaknesses, failures, and inabilities to belong.

Look at Paul’s definitions of God’s agape love in 1st Corinthians 13 and consider the circumstances or situations when these very traits would be most present. Ready?

He says,

Love is patient
Love is kind
Love is not envious
Love is not boastful
Agape is not arrogant
Agape is not rude
Agape does not insist on its own way
Agape is not irritable.
Agape is not resentful
Agape does not rejoice at wrong
Agape rejoices in the right.
Agape bears all things,
Agape believes all things
Agape hopes all things,
Agape endures all things
Agape never ends.

Agape Love vs. Manufactured Love

This is the heart of His Love – it is free, good, positive, allows for liberty, and along the way bears, believes, hopes, and endures ALL THINGS!!!
It endures different doctrinal views.
It hopes all souls will enter heaven.
It believes people of other faith persuasions are okay with God through faith.
It bears the drunkard, the lustful, the lost, the smelly, the vulgar, the demonic – patiently, mercifully, kindly.

These descriptions literally defy dogmatic stances, and all of these descriptions contain (in the working definition of Agape) the CHOICE to submit feelings or emotions over to His Will and never to the sway of a group.

His descriptors are NOT conditional, not cultural, not mandated by Laws or manufactured by groups. And His children embrace this love deontologically.

I suggest that God’s real love is only present when it is a choice and when the choice requires personal sacrifice, selflessness, and suffering.

Let me repeat this,

“I suggest that God’s real love is only present when it is a choice, and when that choice requires personal sacrifice, selflessness and longsuffering.”

Call to Action

The Contrast of Church Love

Go back to playing church with a group of like-minded believers who conditionally receive and deliver their version of love. What did Yeshua say about this idea? He said,

Matthew 5:46-47 For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?

Manufactured love, existing under the auspices of growing a body of like-minded believers in a denomination, ward, or congregation is certainly nice – but are merely expressions found in every well-oiled human culture!

Bowling leagues have it!
Sports teams have it!
Every military branch has it!
Social clubs have it!
Homeless people have it!
And it thrives in most Godless corporate environments amidst their common goal.

The True Faith-Based Love

The faith is predicated on a love that takes all people of all walks, beliefs, lifestyles, and opinions and exercises Agape when they are unable to conform OR . . . unwilling.

It is a love that accepts and sacrifices for the difficult, lost, different, and unruly.

One love is corporate and cultural. The other is individual and subjective.

We maintain that it is time for Christians to employ this love toward the world.

The Spirit’s Role

Toward those they see as sinful, rebellious, lost, difficult, smelly, addicted, needy, hard, pious, holy, and/or who maintain different views or live different lifestyles.

Remember, the Spirit is in charge – not us. The fruit of this Spirit by which His disciples are known is love.

Personal Belief in Agape Love

I believe in a God who so loved the world that while we were yet sinners, He saved us and that this love,

“bears all things,”

“believes all things”

“hopes all things,”

“endures all things”

“And that it “never” ends.
Never fails. Is eternal. Just like Him.

Uniting in Love

It is high time for all people of faith – any faith, some faith, meager or strong faith – to unite in this selfless, sacrificial, and often insufferable love, to turn to operating by the fruit of the Spirit, and to let God do the converting while we respectively focus on our own faith and the love – His Love – we are commanded to share with all others . . . unconditionally.

Conclusion

The Failure of Religious Love

Organized religion, playing the game of Church, may evidence a form of love but the end result of such love is not the Biblical kind.

It’s the religious kind. And in the end, religious love will forever fail the litmus test of truly being His love which truly represents Him and Him alone.

Introduction to Great News Network

Okay!

A little shorter message tonight, and we will try and keep to this length in the future or LESS!

As I said last week, we have created The Great News Network.com, and under that umbrella, we have seven different active expressions for you to consider.

One is Heart of the Matter – which you are watching now and another is what we introduced to you last week, called, I Don’t Get the Bible.”

Introduction to Yeshuans

But there is more and tonight, I want to introduce you to our take on following The Christ in faith and love.

We appropriately call this expression, “Yeshuans,” which is in contrast to calling ourselves Christians or followers of Jesus is because,

  1. We want to use His real name.
  2. We are not reflecting what Christianity has presented over the past 2000 years collectively in religion.
  3. One of the main differences relative to that former way is we welcome all views of Him, see the faith as being entirely between the individual and God, and do not insert ourselves, an organization, doctrines, or practices between them. Ever.

Yeshuan Faith

From the Yeshuan.faith website, we read:

Yeshuans are characterized by two actions… faith and agape love. Yeshuans are seekers of YAHAVA in Spirit and Truth. They are guided by only the Spirit that produces faith and agape love. Yeshuan.Faith is a collective effort by truth-seeking individuals who prioritize seeking YAHAVA in Spirit and Truth before all histories, traditions, and cultures that shape modern Christianity. No matter who you are, or what doctrine you follow, if you seek YAHAVA in Spirit and Truth, we welcome you as a Yeshuan.

Introduction to Brother Grady Risely

With that, let me introduce you to a founding Yes

huan brother, devout follower of the King and astute student of scripture, deep from the Heart of Sonora Mexico, Brother GRADY Risely!

Grady’s Introduction

BRADDA GRADY –
Give us a summary of where you came from brother, what you presently do with Cheryl and family, and how you came to help found Yeshuans and what that means in your estimation.

(TALK with GRADY)

Grady’s teachings can be found on Youtube!
And you can reach him through the link information below.

Upcoming Introductions

Next week we will introduce you to another founder of Yeshuans.faith – Sarah Young and hear all about her.

Open Lines for Calls

Let’s open up the phone lines to take your live calls. But before we do, take a look at this!

Heart Of The Matter

Heart Of The Matter

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