I’ve noticed a trend within the church that bothers me immensely. It is the trend of “bashing”. It could also be labeled “nitpicking”. I recently read a survey that was conducted. 469 people who used to attend church were asked why they stopped. The 3rd and 4th reasons were that the people within the church were hypocritical and judgmental. The 9th reason was that the church was run by a clique of people and discouraged involvement of those not in the clique. This ought not be brothers and sisters. Let’s keep in mind that of those surveyed many were most likely Born Again believers yet due to the harshness of other believers they stopped attending church. To me, that is incredibly sad. I, like many of you have been treated poorly at church. Being shunned, talked about, pointed at is a horrible thing to go through and honestly made me want to never step foot in church again as well. On more than one occasion the thought has run through my mind, “Lord, I just don’t need this”. I have often questioned myself. Why do I keep going week after week just to be treated so badly?
The answer to this question is found in Matthew 5:10 & 11. “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.” And this is why I go. It is a privilege to stand with the many great men and women of God who have walked before me, and currently walk alongside me, to suffer for the sake of righteousness; for the sake of what is right and true. For these are the things which we are required to think on. Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” and if we do we are promised in verse 9 that we will have peace. I like the notes in the Expositor’s Study Bible for Matthew 5:10. It states, “those who operated from the realm of self-righteousness will persecute those who trust in God’s Righteousness”. We must remember that the Cross of Christ is an offence to the world and to most of the churches for that matter. (Galatians 5:11) Anytime we choose God’s path of Righteousness (the Cross) we are taking our eyes off from the church and placing them onto the Cross. Church people don’t like that. They want you to “need” them. Many pastor’s don’t even want you to know the Word of God for yourselves. If you do, they lose control over you. You don’t even need to take a Bible to many churches today. They put the words up on a screen. How do you know they are the right words? The Bible tells us we need to “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15.
Being that the Cross of Christ is an offence to many and if you chose to follow the Cross alone then you must be prepared to be shunned, treated poorly and even run out of the church. So how are we prepared? By knowing in Him who we have believed. (2 Timothy 1:12), by knowing His precious Word (Proverbs 10:14 “Wise men lay up knowledge“), by showing love to those who persecute us and by ever placing our faith into the finished work; the finished work of the Cross. God didn’t do anything half way – it is a finished work. It isn’t the Cross + anything else. It is ONLY the Cross. Therein is where all victory lies. And therein is where our reward lies. We are promised in Revelation 3:21 that “To him who overcomes will I grant to sit with Me in My Throne”. Glory!
Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up strifes: but love covers all sins.” Again, the notes in the Expositor’s Study Bible say, “Those who love to stir up the failing of others, while hiding their own, show that their hearts are filled with hatred.” So we know that we will be hated as believers. We know that many will try to cause us to stumble, to fail. But we have a promise from our Father in Psalm 68:1 that God WILL arise and His enemies WILL be scattered, and those who hate Him will flee before Him. People must either bow before God or flee from Him. Those who hate are those who will flee. All the while it is our responsibility to show love to an unloving church. Let not our love “wax cold” (Matthew 24:12). When we truly love the Father and know His love for us then it will be easier to show love to others. John 15:12 &13 “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Regardless of past hurts we must love each other. Afterall, if God can forgive us, wretched sinners that we are then surely we can forgive and show love to everyone, even those who are “unlovable”. Let us not give up on each other. Do not give up on church. Do not do what Hebrews 10:25 warns us against – “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” The time is short brothers and sisters and we need each other. Now is not the time to be a lone ranger. Let us work together to win as many souls to the Lord as we can for at any moment that trump is going to sound and we will be accountable for the way we used our time on this earth.