Human nature complicates God's design of simple faith. He tells us to be like children and we revel in our wisdom and education. He tells us a child can move a mountain and we want to measure the mountain and form a committee to set a plan to determine if the mountain can be moved or is in fact God didn't really mean what He said. We turn the simple into the almost impossible. After the Council of Jerusalem, simplicity of relationship was burdened with social expectations. The expectations had been in place for the Jewish people, now the Jews were placing them on their gentile siblings.
After the last of the apostles died rules and expectations began to increase. The expectations were based on customs and tradition, not necessarily on sacred truth. By the end of the third century the fellowship of believers was dealing with factions and institutionalism. The conversion of Constantine and the ensuing political and ecclesiastical marriage caused difficulties. Some time around 325 A.D. Constantine called for a council to meet at Nicaea to have the church agree on certain tenants of faith. Around 1800 bishops gathered and set into motion the reference to the Nicene Creed.
The bishops of the Eastern Church and the Western Church now held power to determine what was the accepted faith in Jesus Christ. The leader of the Western Church bishops became known as, Papa, or Pope. In time, absolute power in governance over the church rested with him. His voice was God's voice. As dependence upon creed and Papal Edict increased the personal relationship with God would naturally decrease. People, as we are, found it much easier to give voice to religion. Dealing up close and personal with God made people uncomfortable and demanded relationship.
The corruption found in human nature ran rampant in the church and the ignorance of the common people provided but another link in the chain of bondage. For almost a thousand years the church was kept alive by devout men and women who kept close to God. The dark ages threatened to snuff out the lamp of the church. The scripture was kept from the common people as the religious leadership deemed them to ignorant to understand God's Word.
Two events would be used to bring light back into the church and the surrounding lands. The invention of the printing press threatened the Papal powers as the scripture was put into the hands of common people. The reading and understanding of divine truth removed the cloak of deception the church had used. Church edicts, once used as divine law, now were questioned by those honestly seeking the truth. The other event, the Reformation, allowed lights to blaze and God's children to rejoice in the truth of their relationship.
The church has come along way since the dark days. But, today we use righteous rules to discern true believers from false. Can a really committed Christian smoke? No you say, they sin against their body, the temple of the Holy Spirit. Do you over eat, swear, have anger problems, swell with pride, get envious or jealous? The hypocrite in each of us is not hard to find, but very hard to confess.
It is our responsibility to keep our relationship with Christ intimate and tender. God is my Father and Jesus is my brother in-love. I must not allow any church denomination or creed to have priority over the very personal and intimate relationship I have with the Triune God. The Holy Spirit knows my heart, Jesus talks to our Father for, and about me, my Father, Abba, will one day usher me to my new house.