Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? 6But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates. 7Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates. 8For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth. 9For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection. – II Cor 13:5-9
Of late it has become imperative that my awareness of church people should be noted. I spent thirty
years under a ministry that wasn’t perfect (matured). Many times I would drive by the sheep shed (the building) I called home and think to myself why I am meeting there with the church (the people). There were so many contrary members there.
During my years there an elder and I sat one day talking about church people that had come and gone. We estimated that at the time of that conversation some six hundred people had passed through the doorway of our sheep shed. Now mind you the average number in the congregation was around 150 members.
Why so many, you ask? Something I found in the over-arching reason was that most came thinking they would get their ears full of knowledge without responsibility or action upon what they heard. Once they found out the church is actually a working, moving organism, not an organization they would move on once they found they were actually suppose to act upon their calling or supposed calling.
Secondly they would walk on was because they could not break themselves away from their old ways of thinking. I, myself, spent months before I came to this church researching the new and fascinating paradymn shift I encountered. All I had ever learned needed a revamping and reprioritizing. Lots of what I had learned before had to be discarded even. This shift didn’t occur overnight.
Then there was the undercurrent of discord that flowed from the people that didn’t agree. They spoke to undermine the integrity of the ministry that was there and was actually thriving in moving forward. Once I had settled my reprioritization and huge paradymn shift I wanted for all people to get the fresh understanding of what the Bible was really trying to teach the masses.
I’m not into inventing doctrine. I find that understanding the truth takes some real digging into scripture. Westernization of scripture is one of the leading causes of misunderstanding scripture. My first endeavor was to study the culture of that day. The culture of that time is definitely needed to properly interpret scripture. Then some words need to be defined on a more refined scale. Much of the English language is not able to properly translate the original text. It can literally take hours to properly interpret scripture in some instances. Well, that was before computers and the internet, so that is the reason for that statement. The internet has shortened the process considerably.
In those thirty years I witnessed men that still thought is okay to beat their wives. Some mishandled money by kiting checks or embezzling from the church. We had two prominent members that were homosexual. One was dismissed and the other dismissed himself. I even stumble myself and had to be corrected. I was guilty of mishandling a counseling situation that resulted in being threatened by a member. I saw ministry that thought they should be placed into positions they didn’t have right to assume and left. I actually know of a deacon that lost control of his mental state and left. I saw members that would “lay hands” on women that were praying at the altar. The person was physically escorted out of the building. I’ve heard vularities from the mouths of men that had come to lead music in a service. Folks. People are not perfect. Remember my definition of “perfect” is one that is fully matured. This doesn’t mean we don’t fall down. It means we do fall down, but we get up. Maturity comes with age whether spiritual or physical.
People in church are somewhere between their spiritual birth and their summation of life at the end. That said you must understand that all these people are working on issues they have in their lives that can cause another to stumble. What we must understand is that is we see them stumble we are to help them recover. We are responsible for their success in part because they are our kinsman. We are not to condemn them and cast them out without sincerely counseling them and helping them as they allow. They are not outcasts until they have repeatedly and without remorse continue to lay or fall down from their vices. Then they are release to the evil one for their own sin. The evil one will devour them or at most antagonize them relentlessly. This may be the only way to get them to reconcile themselves with God and come back to the fold.
If that happens it is our responsibility to welcome them back as did the Prodical that welcomed back his son that had squandered his inheritance in the world. We should mourn those that refuse discipline and correction. If we are guilty of going against God’s desires then we need to take stock of ourselves first.
Of late I have watched people walk away from my present church because they were hurt by another. This needs to stop. NOW! We should look at where we’ve come from first. If we would I’m sure we would stop offending others. That offence we create in others will cause our own salvation to be damaged.