I love the Church because she is the means and method God established for teaching and showing the world the Good News: Jesus came to earth fully man and fully divine to teach us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and to love our neighbors as ourselves. He offered himself as the perfect sacrifice to take away our sin at the Cross. Through his grace and our faith, we are adopted as children of God for all eternity and are given the Holy Spirit as our deposit guaranteeing eternity in heaven.
That’s Good News! It’s the purpose of my church and others around the globe and we are passionate about seeing people from every nation, tribe and tongue in heaven one day.
Recently, there have been serious and true accusations of leaders abusing their power and hurting others under their authority within the Bride of Christ or extorting kingdom resources for personal gain. This is inexcusable and should be punished. The general public needs to know about it because it’s wrong, it’s illegal, and should not be tolerated in Church or in secular organizations.
However, there are other people who slam the Church and attempt to defame or demoralize her. When this happens, it keeps people from knowing Jesus. This should break any servant’s heart. (It completely breaks mine!)
This is about snarky, hateful posts, comments or articles in which “John Q. Public”-type authors take up their offenses or the offenses of others in an attempt to damage a church or church leadership. These hurting people often use someone else’s new “pain points” to further their own frustrations with the church because of their past experience, unforgiveness, unbelief, or sin.
Have you ever been deeply wounded by people in the Church? Me, too. It hurts. You can choose godly reconciliation and forgiveness or you can choose condemnation, hate, or personal attacks. Today, I choose to use my voice and influence to offer wisdom and love.
What do you choose? Here are four things to consider.
1. Use Critical Thinking.
To publicly malign or attack any single person should be considered a shocking feat for a purported Christian. To slander the Bride of Christ is downright anti-biblical and outrageous.
Whenever I see public slander of any church, church member, or leader, it gives me pause to wonder. I begin high-level thinking by asking myself critical questions.
Is the post/article/commentary true? Who is writing and who is targeted? Is there an underlying history or agenda? Does this author have a complete picture of what they speak or write after compiling and analyzing all sides of the issue? What is the intent and what Scripture has been used to back an accusation? Can you go to the source and ask leadership directly what has transpired in order to get a full picture? Without giving away private or confidential information, they oftentimes can offer a reasonable explanation. (And, quick note: You won’t often find a public response to something controversial simply because the church leadership wants to protect all the people involved, not themselves.)
My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight,
preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you,
an ornament to grace your neck. (Proverbs 3:21-22)
Two other important questions I ask myself are these: 1. What is the person who is making the accusation and slander doing today to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ (outside of their comment, post, article, or book)? 2. Are they who I would consider upright and godly Christ-bearers, or are they angry, disgruntled, or disillusioned in some way, shape or form?
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you.” (James 1:19-21)
A final note here: Pray for these precious people who are hurt so badly they feel the need to strike out or strike back at the Church.
2. Examine Your Heart.
If ever we are drawn to spread conflict and drama, we have to look to our own deceitful hearts (Jeremiah 17:19). Are we coming into this knowledge with a heart that is pure and steadfast, looking to God Almighty? Do we bear ill will toward the Church because of personal unresolved conflict or offense? This colors the way people either respond well or react inappropriately.
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.
Who can understand it?
“I, the Lord, search the heart and examine the mind,
to reward each person according to their conduct,
according to what their deeds deserve.” (Jeremiah 17:9-10)
Are we part of the solution or part of the problem? Are we making peace or furthering conflict?
Whispering negativity, spreading rumors, and perpetuating drama within or outside the church (especially on the public platforms of social media or in person, via text, email, or other messaging with others) is the handiwork of one dark angel’s influence: Lucifer. He is the deceiver. Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23).
3. Be Wary Of Those Who Attack Leaders.
The Old Testament recounts a story of the Israelites rebelling against Moses and Aaron in the desert that has always made me shudder. Some Levites and certain Reubenites challenge leadership and become insolent. In their arrogance and lack of respect, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram attempt to pit the assembly of Israelites against Moses and Aaron about decisions they’ve made concerning people appointed to serve God in the Tent of Meeting.
Moses says to Korah, “Now listen, you Levites! Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the Israelite community and brought you near himself to do the work at the Lord’s tabernacle and to stand before the community and minister to them? He has brought you and all your fellow Levites near himself, but now you are trying to get the priesthood too. It is against the Lord that you and all your followers have banded together.” (Numbers 16:8-10)
Still, Korah and his followers will not stand down.
In his concern for all the people, Moses says, “Move back from the tents of these wicked men! Do not touch anything belonging to them, or you will be swept away because of all their sins.” (Numbers 16:26)
It ends badly. So badly. As in, God made the earth swallow up these men, their wives, children, and belongings into the desert. The people were terrified–some probably got a little PTSD from it.
I always hold my breath when I read this part of the Bible, don’t you?
4. Give Grace And Mercy To Pastoral Leadership.
Admittedly, there are times that the Church might make mistakes. After all, the church is run by imperfect humans who are dealing with imperfect humans in circumstances that are many times less than holy.
Most leadership in most organizations attempt to to do their very best in any conflict with the skills and counsel they have and combine it with the information they are given. It’s hard work that’s made especially challenging in the Church because there is a spiritual enemy who is also doing his best to destroy God’s Bride in any way he can. We have to give grace and mercy to our leaders.
Two lines of Scripture come to my mind from Hebrews 13 as I write this:
“Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith.”
“Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.”
If it weren’t for the leaders in my church, I don’t know if I would have an intimate, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. I’m so grateful that they have always strived to reach JUST ONE MORE for heaven.
- How much grace have you been given?
- Who has forgiven your sin?
- Who made that all possible?
- Since coming to Christ, who was there for you in your worst moments?
I imagine your answers might look like mine:
- I’ve been given so much grace, I can hardly wrap my mind around it; I’m humbled to tears.
- Jesus has forgiven my sin. All of it – past, present and future. I owe him everything.
- I was saved because a church cared enough to reach out to “JUST ONE MORE” sinner. Me.
- The leaders and people in my church have walked with me through some of the darkest, saddest, and most awful moments of my life.
The biggest issue that kills God’s message to a watching world is the lack of peace and holiness between Christians. Let’s not be a part of tearing down the work of the Gospel.
“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” (Hebrews 12:14-15)