Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Should Christians Be Encouraged to Arm Themselves? A Response to John Piper

John Piper recently released an article here entitled, "Should Christians Be Encouraged to Arm Themselves?" wherein he argues, using 9 points, that it is against the tenor of the New Testament for a Christian to use force against his foes.

I would like to thank Dr. Piper for his insights, his concern for the peaceful thrust of the New Testament, and for bringing this topic into the spotlight.

I myself have been very concerned with an attitude that I see in my own Christian circles (Reformed) concerning a preoccupation with, and overemphasis upon guns. Perhaps this is the attitude that Dr. Piper was intending to react against, an attitude which I myself have come close to writing against several times. I hope this was Dr. Piper's intention. However, since he has fired the first shots in this debate (pun totally intended), I feel that it would be most beneficial to respond to his article since I believe he has missed the mark.

Below I will outline Dr. Piper's nine points and give a brief response to each one.

1. The apostle Paul called Christians not to avenge ourselves, but to leave it to the wrath of God, and instead to return good for evil. And then he said that God gave the sword (the gun) into the hand of governmental rulers to express that wrath in the pursuit of justice in this world.

I agree completely with his first point here. God has called us to refrain from avenging ourselves and he has left the power of the sword and gun in the hands of the governing officials.  However, I believe that Dr. Piper has missed a very important aspect of his first point. Namely that the government has both the right and the responsibility to protect those under its care. In order to do this, the governing authorities hire men and women to carry guns and partake in lawful and orderly enforcement of the law. Some law enforcement officers have more authority and some less, and they all have differing responsibilities. In fact, some of those law enforcement officers are civilians, like you and me. This is why it is still legal to make a citizen's arrest and carry a gun and help the government to protect the safety of those living within its borders. For all intents and purposes, the state is employing citizens as volunteers to keep the innocent safe from evil men. So if the governing authority passes their "sword" to police officers, FBI agents, security guards, and civilians in order to protect others, then each party is simply an extension of the governing authority which has a God-given right to use "the sword."  This is not un-Christian as Piper supposes, but it is very Christian to lock arms with the side of justice and righteousness in whichever way the governing authority permits. 

2. The apostle Peter teaches us that Christians will often find themselves in societies where we should expect and accept unjust mistreatment without retaliation.

Again, I cannot help agree with Dr. Piper here, especially since he simply quotes Scripture. But in this argument he seems to mix up defense of the innocent with the persecution that comes from "doing good" as  believer in Christ. If my response to his first point is correct, then it makes sense that an armed civilian may serve the government in the same way as an armed police officer, as the state permits. I don't know anyone who thinks that they should be able to use his firearm in order to respond to persecution. 

3. Jesus promised that violent hostility will come; and the whole tenor of his counsel was how to handle it with suffering and testimony, not with armed defense.

Here Piper quotes Luke 21

They will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. 

Again, as in point two, Piper fails to differentiate between persecution and an intruder who intends to harm the innocent. If a person is "delivering you up to the synagogues and prisions" and bringing you before the "kings and governors" they are seeking to act within the law, not break it. They are supposing that YOU dear Christian are the law breaker who deserves the sword. They are bringing you to justice. So let me say this clearly, if you are arrested for the cause of Christ, don't fight back. But this still has nothing to do with whether or not a Christian should carry a weapon or not. 

4. Jesus set the stage for a life of sojourning in this world where we bear witness that this world is not our home, and not our kingdom, by renouncing the establishment or the advancement of our Christian cause with the sword.

Piper is correct; the Christian cause is not to be advanced by the sword, or gun, but by the power of the preaching of the gospel which is sharper then any two edged sword, and more powerful than any AR-15, but I have yet to meet anyone who suggests that we should advance the kingdom by the tip of a bullet. I likewise affirm that this world is not my home, I'm amillennial and thus I am patiently waiting for Christ to make all things right in the world to come and thus I have no desire to try to establish any type of Christian government, or Christian power. I therefore agree with Piper perhaps more than most on this point. This world is not my home, I'm waiting for the next. But does this mean that I cannot partake in this world? Should I not buy a home in order to show unbelievers that my hope is not in this world? Should I only lease my car? Or can I be a fully functioning member of my society as I await the coming of our Lord and Savior?  

Just because this world is not my home does not mean that I cannot or should not care for it and its inhabitants.  One of the ways that I do this is by carrying a weapon in order to preserve and protect those who are sojourning with me, and even those who are sojourning to the lake of fire. Again, if my point one is correct, then carrying is a righteous way to partake in this fleeting world. 

5. Jesus strikes the note that the dominant (not the only) way Christians will show the supreme value of our treasure in heaven is by being so freed from the love of this world and so satisfied with the hope of glory that we are able to love our enemies and not return evil for evil, even as we expect to be wronged in this world.

Does Dr. Piper expect police officers to abide by this principle?  Or is it acceptable to use force when needed?  Again, as in point four, I don't have to allow evil men to trample over me in order to show that my supreme treasure is heaven. Perhaps by obeying my Lord's command to "love my neighbor" I show that my supreme treasure is heaven?  Perhaps I love my neighbor by being ready to protect her?

6. The early church, as we see her in Acts, expected and endured persecution without armed resistance, but rather with joyful suffering, prayer, and the word of God.

This point has already been covered. We should endure persecution. We should embrace suffering. But Jesus has already described our persecution in terms of "being delivered over to judges."  If a Christian is arrested for being a Christian and for preaching the gospel, then he or she should go peacefully just like our Lord, for this will be our "opportunity to bear witness." 

7. When Jesus told the apostles to buy a sword, he was not telling them to use it to escape the very thing he promised they should endure to the death.

Here Piper seeks to establish that when Jesus tells his disciples to take a sword with them in Luke 22, that He was not encouraging them to think in terms of literal swords, but He was simply using the sword as a symbol of preparation. I agree with Piper's interpretation of this passage. He seeks to show that this passage doesn't refute his previous 5 points. I agree. That particular passage does not refute his first five points, but I don't think that passage is necessary to refute them. Obviously, I believe that I have thus refuted all of them up until this point, otherwise I wouldn't still be typing. 

8. A natural instinct is to boil this issue down to the question, “Can I shoot my wife’s assailant?”

In all of the discussions that I have had on passivity vs. self defense have boiled down to this question. Can I protect my family? Piper responds to this question by giving seven sub-points. Some of them are valid and need to be thoughtfully considered. The overall thrust of the seven points is to communicate that each situation demands wisdom.  He says in his fourth sub-point,

"I realize that even to call the police when threatened — which, in general, it seems right to do in view of Romans 13:1–4 — may come from a heart that is out of step with the mind of Christ. If one’s heart is controlled mainly by fear, or anger, or revenge, that sinful disposition may be expressed by using the police as well as taking up arms yourself.

Here, he acknowledges that calling the police is an acceptable action to take in particular situations. However, he wants us to do what is Christian instead of what is acceptable. He wants to make sure that if we call the police, it's because of a need for the police and not because we want to get our neighbor in trouble. I second this point and commend him for making it. However, this point does acknowledge that sometimes calling the police is the Christian thing to do. Each situation needs to be examined appropriately, not in the light of what is socially acceptable, but what by what is Christologically right. 

I would give this same advice to anyone who carries a firearm. If a man breaks into your home, you have the legal right to kill him; but just because you have the legal right to kill someone does not mean that you should. Every situation needs to be examined appropriately, not in the light of what is legal, but in the light of what is Christologically right. 

Should you shoot your wife's attacker?  Maybe.  Maybe not. Each situation requires godly wisdom. Every police officer must make those same decisions every day. But again, a police officer may kill a man because he has the legal right to do so, but a Christian should operate from a heavenly perspective and disregard his rights in order to do what is right. 

9. Even though the Lord ordains for us to use ordinary means of providing for life (work to earn; plant and harvest; take food, drink, sleep, and medicine; save for future needs; provide governments with police and military forces for society), nevertheless, the unique calling of the church is to live in such reliance on heavenly protection and heavenly reward that the world will ask about our hope (1 Peter 3:15), not about the ingenuity of our armed defenses.

Perhaps Piper is again confusing persecution of the church with "ordinary means of providing for life."  If an intruder enters my church with a gun and begins killing off my sheep, I will not hesitate to protect them and put an end to the intruder. The government has given me this privilege to help them govern and protect the innocent whom God has entrusted them to protect. 

Here's a crude chart that I made to explain the order of authority. 

Notice that the church is not given any authority to take life. But also notice that Christians are sometimes police officers and have need to do so. Some Christians are soldiers and have need to do so. Come Christians are civilians and may find themselves in a situation where they need to do so. 

I can remember a former pastor of mine who recounted the time when he was stopped in traffic right in front of his friend's stolen car. He got out and walked back to the stolen car in order to confront the thief. When the thief was confronted he put his foot on the gas hopping over the curb and onto the next roadway. My former pastor was thrown onto the hood and his life was in danger. He was able to safely jump down and escape before the car was traveling at too high a rate of speed. He ended the story by saying, "I'm thankful that I did not have my weapon on me at that time. I may have used it, and done so unnecessarily."  That has always stuck with me. I carry a weapon, but I do so with great fear and trembling. No Christian who carries should ever want to use it. 

I think that Piper has missed the mark on this one, and I encourage wise men to carry a weapon and to do so carefully, Christologically, and only use it when needed, and never use it to fight off persecution for the faith. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


Where do your rights come from? 

I've been reading a lot lately about Kim Davis, the Rowan county clerk who refuses to issue marriage licenses to couples of the same sex who practice homosexuality. What I've been hearing from the leftist writers has been a lot of nonsense claiming that "God's law is not the law of the land" or "the Bible is not the law of the land."  So, to those who say, "God's law is not the law of the land,"  we need to talk.

You see, the most foundational principle upon which our Republic is founded, is human rights. Every human has a fundamental and unalienable "right" to live how he or she chooses to live.

"But where do these rights come from? Who gets to decided what these rights are?" you may ask.

I'm glad you asked.

According to the founders of our Republic, these fundamental human rights come from God. Let me quote them for you.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men" 

Did you hear that? The founders of our nation believed that it was the governments job to ensure that men are free to practice their "certain inalienable rights" that God has given them.  That's why government exists.

But this is where things get uncomfortable, because once we see why government exists, we have to ask the question, "what rights are unalienable?"  And in order to answer that question, you have to identify "what Creator?"

You see, if it's Allah, the Muslim creator, then there are a certain set of rights that each person has. In the case of Islam, men have far more rights than women. So do you wish to identify Allah as the "Creator" that issues men and women their inalienable rights? 

In the case of Judaism, you would have a completely different set of rights that would be given to us as "certain unalienable rights."  

If Jesus Christ is the "Creator" who "endows men with certain unalienable rights" then we have yet another, differing, set of rights.

Do you see how quickly this got uncomfortable? 

So here's what we know for sure. 

1. The founders of this great nation proclaimed that it was the governments job to put into place protections for all men so that everyone could enjoy their rights. (That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among men")

2. The rights which men possess cannot be taken from them without perverting a law which is higher than even the most powerful king who would wish to take them. (all men are created equal, [and given] certain unalienable Rights)

3. The most powerful man on earth cannot change what those rights are because they were given to all men by their Creator. (all men... are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.)

4. That leaves us to determine what Creator our founding fathers had in mind. Was is the Muslim "creator" or the Jewish "creator" or the Christian Creator, or some other "creator"? 

This is the question that you must answer. If the Supreme court wants to suggest that homosexual couples have the "unalienable right" to marry one another, then they have to make a case that that right was given to them by the Creator.  What Creator is it? Who is it that holds the whole world in His hands? I hope that you can see the dilemma. If there is no God, then the rights given to men are only those that the most powerful man gives them. But, if there is a God, and that God does give men unalienable rights, then no matter who is in power, he cannot remove those rights from the people. So where do those rights come from?

I'll be awaiting your answer. 

*Note: Some might wonder why I make a difference between the Jewish God and the Christian God. The reason that I do so is because the Jews worship a god similar to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but over the years they have come to construct a version of that God who has become so errant, that this god can no longer be said to be the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In fact, the God of their fathers, came to them in the flesh and their rejected him and refused to worship Him, choosing to worship instead a god which was a graven image, which they formed and carved in the furnace of their own minds. This is why the Jews need the gospel to be preached to them. 

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Error of Dispensational Theology

Most Christians are Dispensational and don't know it... and it's a gross error. 

Baptist Vs. Presbyterian Covenant Theology

Baptist Covenant Theology

Most people don't know that Reformed Baptists hold to a different view of the covenants than do the Traditional Reformed (Westminster). Here we see how the Baptists have always viewed the covenants since the Reformation.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Kim Davis is not a Theonomist

Kim Davis and Theonomy

Kim Davis: The Rowen County clerk from Kentucky who refuses to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples.

Theonomy: The belief that the Mosaic civil laws of the Old Testament are binding upon all rulers of all nations, most especially the Mosaic death penalties. (with the very high likely hood that one day, they WILL become the laws of the world).

Before I begin, let me set the stage so that we are clear on what exactly I'm arguing in this installment. There are several different views regarding the relationship between the Bible and the Government.

View 1: The Christian is a citizen of heaven, therefore he/she should not trouble him/herself with political issues.  This view must be rejected without question. Only the very fringe fall into this category.

View 2: The Christian should be about the work of instituting a Christian government with Christian laws. "Let's make American a Christian nation again" and this will be done through the Church rising up and taking back control. The laws of the land will be those that 'we as Christians' think are most beneficial.  This view is closer to the Biblical position, but it still falls short because this group usually holds to "Dispensational Theology" and therefore does not                                                         identify the law of God very well. Pat Robertson would fall into this                                                       category.

View 3: The Christian should seek to serve God and rule according to his law. Each Christian is to rule by the moral law of God wherever it is to be found in the pages of Scripture and we will know which laws are moral because "our conscience will tell us." Although, we do not enforce the first four of the Ten Commandments, only commandments 6-10.  Most Christians fall into this category.

View 4: Theonomy: The Christian needs to work to institute the Mosaic Old Testament law as the law of the land, thus, the first amendment to the constitution needs to be abolished and the law of God reign supreme. This view also falls short because it does not recognize the temporal nature of many of the laws that God gave to Israel. Including the first four commandments requiring the keeping of a Sabbath, not worshiping any other God, etc. etc. A handful of Reformed Presbyterians fall into this category.

View 5: The Christian should be involved in politics and should obey God in everything, but the law of Moses was not a law given so that nations like the US could copy it. The law that the Christian should govern by is the law of Christ revealed in both the Old and New Testaments. The Law of Christ thus is NOT an exact replica of the Old Testament civil law, but is far greater. (For in Christ "are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.) I would fall into this category.

But in this particular post I will only address Theonomy since many Theonomists have been suggesting that what Kim Davis is doing is supportive of their theology. However, I'm certain that Kim Davis is not a Theonomist, and I'm certain that she does not support Theonomic theology.
In short, I'm not sure to what view Kim Davis holds to, but I do know that she is not a Theonomist.

How can I say this? After all, I've never met her, never talked to her, have no idea what church she attends, and I freely confess that I know nothing about her theology. But I know that she's not a Theonomist because she has been married 4 times, divorced three times, and was made pregnant during her first marriage by the man who later became her third husband. Thus, according the Old Testament civil law, Kim Davis should have been put to death long ago, long before she became a believer. The only reason that Kim Davis lives to profess and serve Jesus Christ is because the laws of Moses are NOT in effect.

Of course many Theonomists are praising her stand against a corrupt government, as am I. However, the difference between Theonomists and I is that I can praise her with a clear conscience while they say that she should have been justly executed long ago. The only reason that she's alive is because the Theonomists have NOT gotten their way.

One of the most well known and consistent Theonomists was Greg Bahnsen who passed away and the early age of  47 in 1995. In one of his most complete and enduring works on Theonomy he writes,

"All those who committed capital crimes (as defined in God's law) had to be executed or else the magistrate would have been sinfully judging against the victim and in favor of the offender; this  is the sign of a wicked judgement. Hence, the ruler was prohibited from respecting persons or showing mercy to criminals. When God says homosexuality (for instance) warrants capital punishment, then that is what social justice demands; that is how heinous with respect to social relations the crime is in God's judgement. Those who are put to death according to the law of God are described in Deut. 21:22 as ones who have 'committed a sin worthy of death.' The God-given authority of the law is established in the penalties incurred by its violators. Hebrews 2:2 declares that the word of the law is unalterable. Such is the logic of ethics. If some action is ethically good or right, then the change of time will not per se alter the rightness of that action... the converted criminal who was crucified at Christ's side recognized tha the received just retribution for his crime under the sanctity of justice; he asserted, 'we die justly, for we receive the due reward for our deeds."

And he continues,

   "With Respect to social affairs the Lord looks with so much scorn upon these crimes that He commands the state to execute those who commit them. Christians do well at this point to adjust their attitudes so as to coincide with those of their heavenly father. Remember the seriousness of  the penal law. Not even refuge sought by the altar could protect those who were guilty of capital crimes (ex. 21:14; cf. 1 Kings 2:28, 34); not even cherished friends or relatives are exempt from the death penalty when they have violated God’s law (Deut. 13:6-9)… it is not without  significance that the major problems facing society today are listed among those things which god  adjudges to be things worthy of capital punishment.” (Theonomy In Christian Ethics).

Does Kim Davis deserve to die? According to the law of Moses, yes she does. But the law which was administered under that priesthood has changed. As the word of God says, "Where there is a change of priesthood, there must also be a change of law as well."  (Hebrews 7:12) Praise God that we have a new high priest and a new law, for we all deserve to die for "the law brings wrath" (Romans 4:15).  But praise God, because women like her and men like me are allowed to live, even though we deserve to die. And we live because we have died to the law. As it is written:

"Do you not know brother, for I am speaking to those who know the law- that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is release from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from the law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress.

Likewise my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another law, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God... now we are released from the law, having died to that which held us captive, so that we serve in the new way of the spirit and not in the old way of the written code."
Thank you Jesus for freeing me from the law of sin and death. I know that Kim Davis thanks you too.

Thursday, January 8, 2015



There has been an exodus from the church in our day. Many have left "organized religion" and gone to "have their own private relationship with God." The problem with this line of thinking is that it reveals the fact that the one leaving the church doesn't know or understand God at all. They don't know who he is. He is not a God of the independents, but he is God of the dependents. He is not coming for his multiple brides, but his one bride, the church. God doesn't have anything to do with those who are not part of his church. He doesn't hear prayers of those who are not part of the church, and he doesn't receive worship of those who are not part of the church.

Apart from the church, God won't hear your prayers

Many think that they can pray on their own apart from the fellowship of the church, but prayers offered to God outside of the fellowship of his church are prayers that God ignores. In Psalm 66:18, the Holy Spirit leads the psalmist to write, "if I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened to the voice of my prayer."  Clearly, God does not listen to those who harbor iniquity in their heart. Of course one may object, saying, "just because I leave church doesn't mean that I have iniquity in my heart."  But this objection reveals a great misunderstanding of Jesus and his commandments. First, Jesus commands that we are to love one another, adding, "by this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." When one separates himself from the church, he automatically is unable to obey this commandment. It is impossible to love someone and refuse to be around them at the same time. Imagine a husband who says he loves his wife, but refuses to come home to be with her. That would not be love, in fact, it would reveal a great lack of love.

In addition to refusing to obey Christ's command to love, the one who leaves the church also refuses to obey many other of Christ's commandments; such as, serve one another, honor one another above yourself , carry one another's burdens, speak to one another in hymns, songs, and spiritual songs , admonish one another , encourage one another , live in harmony with one another, use your gift to serve those in the church, show hospitality to one another, and many many more. In fact, if we understand Scripture rightly, it is impossible to keep any of God's commandments while living apart from the church. In fact, God even commands believers to submit themselves to a pastor. In Hebrews 13:17, the Holy Spirit leads the author to write a commandment to God's people instructing them to "submit to your pastors and obey them, for they are keeping watch over your soul." How can anyone obey this command of God's if they are not in a church submitting themselves to the loving care of a pastor? In all these things, the one who leaves the church lives in disobedience to the commandments of God. The simple reality is that you cannot be a follower of Jesus without actually following him. Refusing to obey these commands of Christ is to cherish iniquity in the heart, and the cherishing of iniquity in the heart leads to God turning a deaf ear to the prayers that are offered to Him. You simply cannot have your own personal relationship with God on your own.

 (John 13:12-17) (Romans 12:10)  (Gal. 6:2) (Ephesians 5:19) (Col. 3:16) (1 Thessalonians 4:18)  (1 Peter 3:8)  (1 Peter 4:9) (1 Peter 4:10)

But I can worship God apart from the church!
The one who leaves the church will often argue that they can worship God on their own and that they don't need the church to worship. This too shows a lack of understanding of both God and his word. Many years ago, God sent the prophet Isaiah to the people of Israel and told him to deliver the message of God's hatred for their worship. God goes so far as to call their worship an abomination (Is. 1:13).  The reason? God hated their worship because they offered perfectly good worship while at the same time living in sin. Because of their refusal to obey his commandments in their daily lives, God disdains the worship that they offer him. As we have seen, it is impossible to obey the commandments of God apart from the church, and thus apart from the church and a desire to obey God's commandments, God will not receive worship.

As you do unto the Church, you do unto Christ
Jesus said, "as you do unto my brothers (Christians) you do unto me" and thus Jesus credits people with feeding Him, because they fed a hungry Christian. Jesus credits people for clothing Him because they gave clothes to a suffering Christian, and Jesus credits people for visiting him in prison because they visited Christians. Conversely, Jesus says, that those who didn't visit Christians, did not visit him. "Then I will say to those on my left, 'depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.' They they will answer, 'when did we see you  hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not minister to you? Then I will answer them saying, ' as you did not do it to one of these my brothers, you did not do it to me." What you do to the church you do to Jesus. If you feed the church, you feed Jesus. If you love the church, you love Jesus. If you leave the church, you leave Jesus.

This concept can be seen clearly when Saul is persecuting the church and on his way to Damascus to arrest and kill more of the members of the church, Jesus appears to him on the road and says, "Why do you persecute me?"  Jesus didn't say, "Why are you persecuting my church?" He said, "why are you persecuting ME?" In Jesus' eyes, whatever you do to the church, you do to him. There is absolutely no difference between a man and his bride whom he loves. If you slap my wife, you slap me. If you offend my wife, you offend me. If you turn your back on my wife, you turn your back on me. Don't expect to turn your back on my wife and for me to continue to be your friend. This is how Jesus views his bride. If you leave her, you leave him.

If you don't want to go to church, you don't want to go to heaven

One of the works of God at the point of salvation is to instill a love for his church in the hearts of those that are saved. This love translates into a desire to fulfill the "one another" commands listed above. This is not to say that anyone keeps these commands perfectly, but there is at the very least a strong desire to keep them. After all, this is the mark of being a disciple "your love for one another." But sometimes those who have strayed from church still expect entrance into heaven, because they have their own "personal relationship" with God. But think about it. What will you find in heaven? You will find all of the people of God dwelling together with one another and with God, engaged in worship of God.  But why would those who don't want to be around the people of God, want to go to heaven where all of the people of God are? Why would those who don't like the corporate worship of God want to go to a place where the corporate worship of God is the primary activity?  Why would one who doesn't want to engage in the "one another" commands of Scripture want to go to a place where everyone will be practicing all these commands in perfection? Why would someone who prefers to stay away from the people of God want to spend all eternity forced to be with them, 24/7, for all eternity?

As we have seen, it is impossible for anyone to keep the commands of God outside of the context of belonging to a church.  Since those outside of the church cannot keep God's commands, God does not hear their prayers, nor receive their worship. In addition to this, Jesus says that as you do unto the church you do unto him, so those who turn on the people of God, turn on Jesus himself. Thus, it is impossible, in the highest sense of the word, to have your own personal relationship with God. Lastly, we see that this is a matter of the heart. When God saves an individual he causes that individual to love him, and to love the church. Scripture makes it plain that in order to love God one must love the church, for if you do not love those you can see, then you cannot love him who you cannot see. (1 Jn. 4:20) This is why there is no salvation outside of the church.

Therefore, if you are in the position of not wanting to attend church and you don't like to be around the followers of Jesus, then ask Jesus to change your heart so that you would love him, and love his people and don't stop asking him to do so until he does it. He is in the business of changing hearts. Let him change yours.