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What happens to your relationship with God after you’ve been excommunicated? To answer this question, we must first understand what excommunication is from His point of view. It doesn’t matter how man defines excommunication, because God doesn’t operate according to man’s definitions. A man might define himself as perfect, but God will say he’s a sinner and throw him into Hell unless he submits to Jesus. A man might define Hell as a mythical place that doesn’t really exist—that won’t make his experience there any less real. We humans do not define reality, God does. We can make up any beliefs we want, but unless our beliefs align with God’s truth, we will only be leading ourselves astray.
So what is God’s view of excommunication? What did He see when the authorities of the Church announced that they had excommunicated you? Well, God saw some people tell you that you couldn’t come hang out with them any more at their social club. He wasn’t all that impressed.
God uses the term “Church” as a synonym for “My kids.” If Jesus is your God and Savior, then you’re a member of God’s Church. Who controls the membership roster of God’s Church? Only God. Does He ever cross names off of it? No, He does not. Once God adopts you as His child, He says that no one can ever separate you from Him again. That definitely includes the pope, priests, pastors, and all other human beings. The very notion that we can command God to unadopt someone is totally ludicrous. Humans can’t change your personal relationship with God. All they can do is beef at you. They can criticize, complain and accuse you of all kinds of evil, but in the end all they’re expressing is human opinions and human opinions don’t carry any weight with God.
God is the only One you are going to be judged by in eternity. He’s the only One you need to be concerned with pleasing. Jesus says that the Church is His Bride. Now if a bride is concerned about what her husband thinks about her, should she go talk to him or the neighbor across the street? She should go directly to her husband, of course. It’s the same with you and God. Whenever you’re concerned about your relationship with Him, you need to talk to Him directly, not rely on the advice of human beings. Don’t ever believe He’s mad at you or that He’s cut you off or that He’s not talking to you just because some silly person said so. Humans are sinful and we love to pick on each other. We’re born with evil in our hearts and even after we’re saved, we have a hard time resisting the chance to judge someone else. It’s always more fun to talk about other people’s sins than it is to work on our own. Far too often we turn our church gatherings into gossip factories with strict pecking orders and then when someone doesn’t want to play by our rules, we boot them out. Excommunicating is the ultimate expression of “we don’t like you” in the Christian church. Well, the fact that we don’t like someone doesn’t change God’s opinion of that person one bit.
So now that you’ve been excommunicated, what’s really changed? Not a whole lot. You’ve gotten the “we don’t like you” message from a certain group of Christians. No biggie. That one group of souls hardly represents the entire Church. One good thing about the Church being so fractured is that you can easily find another denomination that doesn’t care about the labels someone else put on you. And meanwhile, you’re still God’s kid, which means you’re still part of HIS Church.
Now we get to the important question: is there any unfinished business between you and the Holy Spirit? This is a question every Christian needs to keep before them, not just those who have been excommunicated. You don’t need a priest to tell you if there’s anything on your conscience. If God has a problem with you, He has already told you about it in a very CLEAR and SPECIFIC way. Notice the two words I put in caps: they are essential markers of God’s conviction. Vague, uneasy feelings of dread come from Satan. Because God cares so much about your relationship with Him, He doesn’t mess around with “read My mind” games. If there’s something He wants you to do, you won’t have to rack your brain to figure out what it is. You’ll know exactly what it is and it will be something that you can actually do. Let’s be clear: God doesn’t say things like “stop sinning so much” or “be more like Christ.” These are vague commands that leave you without any specific course of action. All vagueness comes from demons, whether it’s vague commands or vague solutions. As a Christian, you must reject all condemnation—and anything Satan says is condemnation. Condemnation makes you feel depressed, hopeless, discouraged and beat down. God’s convictions make you feel educated, focused, and hopeful.
As a Christian, ALL of your sins are ALREADY FORGIVEN. This is critical, for any conviction you hear inside your head or coming from someone else’s lips which suggests that God has not forgiven you for something is a lie. When Jesus died for your sins on the cross, He didn’t miss any.
So if God has already forgiven all of your sins and He’ll never cast you out of His Church or unadopt you, then how can you mess up in your relationship with Him? Rebellion is the way you get into trouble with God, but damaging rebellion is more than having sinful flesh. Rebellion is a heart issue. Rebellion is when deep inside you say to God “I don’t care what You want. I’m going to do things my way.” It is very possible to sin without having a rebellious heart. The porn addict who desperately hates his addiction and wants very much to please God might lack the willpower to stop looking at dirty pictures, but the whole time he does, his soul is groaning in frustration. This is not rebellion, for the man’s soul is on God’s side and it wants to please God.
Standing on the outside of a person, we can’t see into their hearts, we can only judge their actions. This means we make a lot of wrong assumptions about people. If I see a man paging through a porn magazine, I can’t tell how his soul is reacting, so I will just assume he’s being rebellious. We humans like to assume the worst about each other. We’re nasty that way. This is why it’s such a relief to know that human beings will never be your judges in eternity. God isn’t going to ask a priest for input when He reviews your life on earth. You will answer to God alone.
It is a very simple thing to stay in a right relationship with God all the time. Perfect behavior is not required. All that matters is our heart attitude. As long as deep inside you’re saying, “I really care about pleasing You, God, and I want You to have Your way in My life,” then you are in alignment with God. When our hearts are in the right place, we will hurry to do anything He tells us to. We’ll be swift to obey His convictions. We’ll feel a general repulsion towards sin. We’ll still mess up, but we’ll be sorry when we do. We won’t be bragging and cocky.
To find out if there are any real issues between you and God, all you have to do is look inside your own heart. Get alone somewhere quiet and ask God to show you if there are any problems between you. If nothing clear comes to mind, then you’re fine. Remember, God wants you to stay on a good basis with Him and He isn’t going to pretend everything is fine when it isn’t. But even if there is some area of your life that you’ve been rebelling in, you can get back into a right relationship with God by simply changing your heart attitude. Repenting is simply a matter of going from “I don’t care what You think” back to “I really want You to have Your way in my life, even if it’s not something I would choose.” The very moment you repent, God considers you back in a right relationship with Him. Even if He wants you to go apologize to someone and you haven’t had a chance to do it yet, as long as your heart attitude is good, then He is pleased with you. God makes it very easy to stay aligned with Him.
So then, why have you been excommunicated? What specific charges have been made against you by church leadership? Take them to God and ask Him to show you if there’s anything He wants you to do about them. Be open to Him giving you an answer you don’t expect. Remember that God only cares about you being right with Him. He doesn’t care if other Christians don’t like you. In fact, whoever excommunicated you is going to find themselves in trouble with God if they acted without His permission.
There are different degrees of excommunication. Some say that if you’re excommunicated, there is a spiritual separation between you and God. This is a complete lie, so if you’re dealing with people who hold to this definition of excommunication, then you’re dealing with people who are delusional and you shouldn’t put a lot of stock in what they say.
A less severe form of excommunication means banning someone from participating in certain rituals and assemblies. When a Christian is embracing heart rebellion and refuses to repent, and when their actions are causing disruption in the church and harm to others, then temporarily banning them from the congregation can be an appropriate course of action. In the New Testament, God gives us some specific instructions on how we should deal with such situations. If this is the situation you’re in, you would already be receiving clear conviction from the Holy Spirit about what you need to do to correct your behavior.
In a fallen world, it is very easy to abuse the excommunication ritual and turn it into a carnal exclusion of people who are refusing to play by the rules of our little kingdoms. If you’re the target of this kind of excommunication, then you’re better off not associating yourself with a group of Christians who are acting so petty, for such people are clearly not listening to God.
All humans want to be accepted and feel like they belong. Being labeled as an outcast by people who were once your friends can be very painful, however we need to remember that Jesus was also an outcast. The priests of His day accused Him of being demon possessed and blaspheming against God. The Jewish community as a whole became very hostile towards Him and even His closest friends ended up abandoning Him to His enemies. If you know that your heart is right before God and other Christians won’t accept you, take it as a compliment. Jesus said that very few will follow Him and those who reject Him will hate those who love Him. Many people who call themselves Christians really aren’t saved at all—in their minds, they’ve just joined a religious club for the social perks and they don’t care one bit about honoring God in life. Other Christians live in constant states of rebellion. If souls are fighting against God and they sense God in you, they are naturally going to fight against you as well. When we are aligned with God, we will find that people react to us the same way they are already reacting to the Holy Spirit in their hearts. There’s a whole lot of rebellion going on in the Church, which is why serious Christians often find themselves being picked on, hated, and driven away. Just by obeying God in your own life, you end up being a source of conviction to others and they will feel more comfortable with you out of their faces. Resist the temptation to grovel to sinful flesh just so you can regain their favor. Remember that Jesus was quite willing to stand alone rather than please religious leaders who were dishonoring His Father. As serious Christians, we do not compromise our walks with God in order to gain the approval of others. We only care about pleasing God.