So, I haven't put anything on here in a while, but it's not because I haven't been writing. A lot of things have been going on in my life recently and I honestly have been a little bit tentative to put anything up recently. So, this is a post I wrote for my blog that I thought I should share with you all.
Last week, my dad resigned from pastoring a "church" in Ohio. I put church in quotes because, over the past several months I have come to clearly see the difference between a biblical church and a church in name only. So, my dad's sermon wasn't really a sermon, it was more of a biblically guided talk about the sin that has brought us to this point. No names were named, no fingers pointed, only sin pointed out. It was well done, and I'm not just saying that because he's my dad. Truly, one would not have the slightest idea who was sinning in what ways unless they were directly involved or were the person.
Anyways, my dad resigned and there were no "amen!"s, "no way!"s, or "why?"s. No questions asked. They just sat there, some smiling victoriously while others showed no emotion. This is not right! Sadly, my dad was the longest serving pastor in this church at only 10 years. It seems to be a pattern in the congregation that they hire a pastor for 5-6 years and then let him go on his way. No questions asked.
So I have a question - why?
Why is it that we feel the need to have no commitment to God, the church,and the Bible?
Why is it that we replace that commitment with a frail and circumstantial commitment to a 50 year old document drawn up by sinful man?
Why is it that we attempt to harshly yank the spec from a brother's eye, while denying the existence of the log in our own eye?
I think that the overarching answer is easy - sin. Sin is our choice to do anything but glorify God. So that is the simple answer.
But what kind of sin?
Please don't misunderstand me, I am not saying that there are different levels of sin or anything like that. However, I do believe that it is slightly different when a believer and an unbeliever sin because an unbeliever has not made that same commitment to serving God as a believer. This does not make any one person's sin better than the others, but it does makes them different.
In Psalm 55, David perfectly describes the situation and the complications.
"Now it is not an enemy
Who insults me -
Otherwise I could bear it;
It is not a foe
Who rises up against me -
Otherwise I could hide from him.
But it is you, a man who is my peer,
My companion and good friend!
We used to have close fellowship;
We walked with the crowd
Into the house of God."
So, if you didn't catch it, this verse. is talking about an attack by a supposed christian on a supposed friend. This complicates things because it is a professing friend and child of God who is attacking. How do you approach this person? Your first instinct is to approach them as a friend and brother, but by attacking you they have at least shown that they aren't true friends; and the brother aspect? The Bible says to weed out false prophets from the church; but who am I to say that they are false prophets? 1 John 4 begins by pleading not to "believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they have come from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world." The verse then goes on to tell us that we can "recognize the Spirit of God", or the true prophets, because "every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ came in the flesh is of God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not of God. This is the spirit is the Antichrist." This sounds pretty simple, right? But what about those who claim to acknowledge Jesus, and even show growth, and then throw it all away and act otherwise?
Honestly, I don't have a clear answer. What I can say is this: "be strong and courageous", "persevere", "love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you".
These last snippets of verses are great, and I guarantee that you have heard every one of them at some point in time, but look again at their focus the focus is not on the one who persecutes you, but on your response. So now I would like to switch my focus from talking about others to talking about self.
"Be strong and courageous" what does this mean? It sounds pretty simple, right? Be strong and courageous. However, I think that there's more to this phrase than simply being strong and courageous. Let me draw a picture for you.
A professional football player is strong and courageous, he has to be. "Strong and courageous" is probably in the job description somewhere; but he doesn't get there by simply being physically fit. No, he has to work, practice, and be constantly training. I don't think he ever wakes up in the morning and says "I don't feel like working out today, I think I'll just sleep" and then follows through. He is constantly in the field practicing.
This relates in the same way to our spiritual life. We must be strong and courageous, but to get there we must first recognize our weakness and work hard, practice, and give everything to God.
"Persevere" perseverance is pushing through, not stopping, and endlessly pursuing God. Again though, even this one simple word can have a subtitle. If perseverance were the title of a book, I believe that the subtitle would be "tough times are here". Without something to push through, perseverance is nothing. This may sound hard, and it is, but imagine what a woodpecker would be like without anything to peck at. It would be without a purpose. In the same way, we were created for perseverance, and perseverance was created for hardships, and perseverance without hardships is pointless, and humans without perseverance are pointless.
"Love your enemy" let's all be honest, loving your enemy is hard, because how can you love someone that you don't trust? Well, this isn't a perfect answer, but it is an idea. I believe that love and trust are completely different and do not rely on each other. Love is an unconditional action that takes place when one's heart and mind are focused on God. Trust is a conditional action based on a return of trust as well as a worthiness of trust on both sides. Thus, while your enemy may remain your untrustworthy enemy, you must nevertheless keep acting out Christ's love towards them. "Pray for those who persecute you" goes right along with "love your enemy" because prayer is an action firmly planted in love. It is interesting to note that the verse says to pray for them, not against them. Again, the action of love.
I personally have learned a lot through this struggle. While I do struggle with anger and find it hard to even look at the men I used to look up to, I do feel that the Lord has blessed me with spiritual growth through this situation. I hope that I can pass some of my new understanding on to others and I hope that I have done that, and encouraged you, through this post.