It’s no wonder that people make so much of man’s relationships with animals. Cats, dogs, horses. A dog is your friend, or it isn’t. A horse trusts you, or it doesn’t. A cat can’t be evil–it can’t betray you, it can’t disappoint you. Animals don’t believe rumors about you. They don’t sell their good opinion of you for an ego trip. Once friends, they believe the best about you until you prove yourself unworthy, and some people have to prove that many times to disabuse dogs of their naive notions.
An open letter to a church:
I know many of you. I thought I knew many of you well, and have called you friends. 3 1/2 years ago, I got married in this church. All of you were invited to the ceremony; some of you to the reception, and most of you came. That’s only one event of many I’ve shared with people in this church.
Now, things have changed—dramatically.
My dad used to have the support of the vast majority of you. He never had the good opinion of, or was given the benefit of the doubt by, some of you, but I suppose that means most of this is not directed toward that contingent.
But others of you have been his friends, just as you were mine. He no longer has your good will, your good opinion. You believe ill of him, treat him differently, talk to each other about him, and he hears criticism and allegations second- and third-hand. Do any of you realize how difficult it is to bear, how painful it is, to have those you trusted, those you thought were your friends, believe bad things about you, so much so that they want to get rid of you? Push you out, stop talking to you, with no explanation? And they not only don’t tell you your wrongs themselves, but you’re never told what you did wrong at all? What a dismal way to live. How discouraging, how sad, how unfair, how lonely. And these are going on amongst Christians. To not even be granted the dignity of knowing what people say you did or didn’t do… and no one seems to be thinking twice.
You were friends, fellow-laborers for the Lord. You knew the man, you still know him. You were his friends, his supporters, and he is your pastor. When someone came to you with a bad word, calling him a name, claiming he was controlling, a jerk, any number of things, you should have stood up for him–you should have asked for examples, for proof, for an explanation. Or better, you should have said, ‘Why are you telling me this?’ There’s a reason the Bible tells us to ‘go to your brother’ when he’s offended you, not to talk about him behind his back, getting yourself and others stirred up by triangulating. It’s only with open, face-to-face conversation, confrontation, confession, repentance, and forgiveness that reconciliation happens. When everything is kept beneath the surface, it festers–no opportunity for explanation, apology, making things right. I forget– he did get a chance to apologize to someone. But it wasn’t even acknowledged.
This is what we’ve come to. Christians treating each other like this. People aren’t who they were a year ago. Women I knew of as sensitive, people I could talk to, people with sympathetic ears and hearts, now behave as cold as calculating con-artists (it’s all just business—don’t take it personally–he works for us–he isn’t really a human being with feelings, much less a brother or sister in the Lord), and don’t even realize how unlike they are to what they used to be. It doesn’t occur to them that they’re swinging a bat blindly, and fellow believers, some who have already been through so much, are bound up as the pinata. And what’s the cause of it?
An ugly Reality. What can be done? What can be said, what can be urged–when the base problem is that people don’t want to know the truth? What they need more than anything is to be told the truth. But that’s dropping a chicken into a pit full of foxes (an inverted metaphor!). I wouldn’t get out more than a syllable of the word ‘demonic’, and minds would shut.
How can ‘nice’ people do this? How can they act so contrary to the Word they hear week by week?
A pastor’s job, first and foremost, is to preach the word. You know the man has been faithful in this, and is indeed very gifted. How can it be just to blame him for doing his duty? You all should know that Satan doesn’t sit back comfortably and watch the truth being spoken. He targets it, he targets God’s ministers. Why can’t you see that if the Word in itself, in its fullness, in its beauty, in its revelation of the character and will of God, doesn’t make people happy, it’s because they’re unhappy, not because the Word is inadequate? And you ought to look for the source of their unhappiness elsewhere–unless you can entertain the idea that the Word, the very Gospel itself, makes them uncomfortable.
My friends! People I trusted, people about whom I only believed the best!
To hear that the hostility is now being dished out to my sister broke my heart. I didn’t think things could hurt any worse! This morning my grief was such that it broke several blood vessels under my eyes.
Do you want God’s blessing? Don’t you know that is what a church needs to thrive? All this activity, all this talk–it’s just wheel-spinning, it’s all just talk if God’s will and glory isn’t sought! And who has asked God if He is unhappy with the minister? Who has asked God if He is pleased by all the back-room conversations and hurried decisions? The baseless accusations and excuses for pushing the pastor out of all his legitimate roles, while at the same time telling him he doesn’t do enough? Nit-picking, making demands, giving instructions, with no sense that there’s a reciprocal relationship–a responsibility exists for the flock–that is controlling.
Nonsense, hypocrisy, abuse, and neglect of honesty God does not sanction. And He will not bless an attack upon one whom He has called, who has served Him faithfully. Why are you doing this? What will it achieve? Does anyone know? Where is self-reflection? Where is waiting on God?