August 14, 2011

You Left the IC, but has the IC Left YOU?

Posted in False Beliefs about Attending Church, False Beliefs about Church Leavers, False Beliefs About The IC, Healing Series, IC Doctrine and Practices tagged , , , , , , at 7:05 pm by Set Free Indeed


Deleting this blog out of existence was certainly on my mind concerning recent events in my life. Why do you ask?  Mainly because I have became flabbergasted recently concerning the behavior of some of those who have claimed to have left the Institutional Church (IC), YET are exhibiting the same ways, practices, and tactics, of those they negatively speak of. They left the IC but the IC hasn’t LEFT THEM. We do the same things we accuse those in the institution are doing. I have personally forgotten my first love, and for that I am in deep sorrow.

Hurt People, Hurt People: Have We Become What We Once Despised?

Many of us who have left false churches which have controlling tactics and ways know how it feels to experience “church hurt.” (I term I HATE but seems appropriate for this blog) We know how it feels to have people who claimed to love you use controlling tactics, authoritarianism, false doctrines and scripture twisting, shaming, suppression of differing opinions, etc. resort to creating cliques, sowing discord, and exhibiting the most ungodly behavior of which they refuse to be corrected for against you. We saw it, and God told us to come out from among them and be separate.

I find that many who have left IC’s are doing the same things. They have formed cliques, they indiscriminately shut out the voices of those who disagree with them, and engage in gossip, slander, character assassination, and many other tactics of which many apostate churches have done in order to shut out the voices who speak truth against the current behaviors, doctrines, and practices they engage in.

I find this phrase to be so true in this case… Hurt people HURT PEOPLE. Saints I implore you to please examine yourself to see if you are in the faith on this matter, (2 cor 13:5) because many of us have become what we have despised in the institution.

When I talk about the Institutional Church, many people assume that I speak of every organized church in existence. I assure you I am not speaking of everyone, or do I think every organized fellowship fits the categories of which I speak of in this blog. The institution is a mindset and a structure of ungodly control and hierarchy of which God has not established.

So when I speak of those coming out of many institutions, you have to realize that people make the institution run, and it is their mindsets, attitudes, and personalities make it work many times pushed forward by selfish ambition and the desire to have the preeminence. Unless we as saints allow God to renew our minds from what we learned from those places, and crucify the flesh daily, we will continue to exhibit the same characteristics and bring those tendencies into any fellowship we choose to be part.

The Matter is the Heart – The Building is NOT the Issue

Proverbs 4:23 (NIV84)
Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.

Matthew 15:19-20 (NIV84)
For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.These are what make a man ‘unclean’; but eating with unwashed hands does not make him ‘unclean.’

A very wise woman once said to me that the building and all that goes on there isn’t necessarily the problem in and of itself,  it is the HEART OF MAN, AND THE SINFUL NATURE which breeds and continues to support the IC structure and mentality. The heart and all of it’s evil ways must be dealt with, and for believers this is part of crucifying the sinful nature and all of the evil which comes with it.

Galatians 5:19-21 (NIV84)
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.

It all made perfect biblical sense. The BUILDING WAS NOT THE ISSUE, the ISSUES are the false doctrines, teachings, practices, which originate from the sinful nature and are expressed in the heart. These things manifest themselves in the way many IC’s are established and run. So you have people who have escaped the ranks of many apostate churches around the world, but where do you point them to, or in this case WHO do you point them to? Looking at my experiences over the years,  it is a vain and unprofitable endeavor to tell people to escape the false institutions and not lead them to CHRIST who is the LIVING GOD and the express glory of the Father. Our focus should never be to just to blindly attack institutions and the members therein… it defeats the purpose if Christ is not the one we will point those scattered believers to.

Church Hurt + Unforgiveness = Roots of Bitterness

Hebrews 12:14-15 (NKJV)
Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled;

I find that many who have left IC’s carry with them a lot of hurt and pain, and rightfully so in many instances. It may be emotional, as well as some physical wounds for many. These people need to be ministered to, cared for, and counseled so that their relationships with the Lord Jesus can remain strengthened and not be affected by the actions of those in their former IC. This is an IMPORTANT STEP, and for pastors out there please be sensitive to this. I wrote a blog entitled “Dealing with Residual Anger” which deals with some aspects of this. If you are Christian who is reading this, please reach out to these wounded brothers and sisters who either remain, or have come out of those fellowships in love to see the truth.

Church hurt may have been very real, but because many have not forgiven those who have hurt them, they have allowed a root of bitterness to spring up in their hearts, leaving them ANGRY, vengeful, and filled with malice and contempt for anything they know as the IC… even those who are LEGITIMATELY BROTHERS AND SISTERS who are still members. Saints who may be reading this, please forgive them! Many of them do not know what they are doing.

As for me I REFUSE to leave a matter unsettled and hold some aught against my bro/sis.  That is a weight I cannot bear. PLUS I want my Father to forgive me.

Matthew 6:15
But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

Where is the Love? Do Not Become a Pharisee

Matthew 24:9-13 (NIV84)
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Please do not allow your love for your brothers and sisters to grow cold. Stand firm till the end! How could anyone ever consider anything we say if we do not love them, we will be like sounding brass and tinkling cymbal. Without love we are NOTHING. For we should be determined not to know any thing among us, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. Let us make sure that in all of our contending and defending the faith that we not forget LOVE the weightiest matter of the Law. If we lose that, all we do is in vain. Choose the most excellent way.

If we lack love, care and wisdom in how to deal with our brothers and sisters in Christ and everyone else for that matter, it will show up in our prideful spirits, arrogance, and in our ability to never find fault in ourselves. We become overly critical fault finders… many of us know our doctrine, but just like the Pharisees, we forgot the weightiest matter of the law. God hates pride, arrogance, and those who sow discord among brethren, and we must be careful to guard ourselves from selfish ambition and watch our conduct and motives.

A love that builds up our brothers and sisters is not only a witness to encourage them, it also gives God glory, for it pleases him. Love never fails, but knowledge will eventually pass away. So if Jesus considered loving the Lord, and loving our neighbor to be the greatest of the commands for us as Christians, why is it we are missing the mark?

These evil last days have even this blog writer in despair, even as I type this I feel myself getting more numb and my heart getting harder, I don’t know if I have it in me to do anything further.  I’m experiencing a “new” kind of church hurt, which didn’t take place in any institution. I am a wounded soldier seeking healing right now… and it hurts more that our brothers and sisters in the Lord cannot even display Godly love toward one another. It hurts even more that I am guilty of the same. It is discouraging, and has has left me in a state of hopelessness, but as I hear the Spirit minister to me: “You are not like those who have no hope.”

I covet your prayers.

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15 Comments »

  1. Lisa said,

    Hello Sister,
    I am near to tears as God has lead me to this place not by accident.

    I kept hearing “strengthen what remains” in my thoughts so I typed it in and eventually I came to this point and have been overwhelmed with this information.
    I am sad actually and lost because of the events that took place in my experiences with the church. I am disenchanted from two separate churches I was part of.
    I am afraid to go near another church because of that, I love Jesus and have strong faith in Him not in religion yet I would like to find other people who are also sort of lost and wandering without connection to what is real. This is the first time I have even seen anything put into words that I can relate to in regards to these feelings that I have. I feel really hopeful that there are other people who are on the same page and hope to find a new path with kindred spirits
    Faith in His Agape
    Amen

    • My dear sister, God bless you! God will indeed lead you into all truth, and I am glad that you were able to relate to what I have expressed here.

      Grace and Peace,

      Set Free Indeed

  2. Hurtsoldier said,

    I’m an abused Pastor that closed a divided ministry. I have determanined to love everyone – however – I’ve also determained not to seek out the fellowship of those who have hurt me and my family. Have we care for those people…yes – since the closure of the ministry – we love them, but don’t like them. I wish them well and God’s best, but desire no fellowship – tell me, am I wrong?

    • Hurtsoldier,

      Continue steadfastly in loving your neighbor. I am sorry to hear about your troubles.

      If God has called you to pastor, you will do it, whether it is for your family, neighbors, or friends on a small level, or for a larger congregation. It sounds like you needed a serious break from “ministry” because the administrative demands, followed up with unecessary strife in a congregation has burned you out.

      I don’t know the basics of your situation, but I commend you for stepping back, examining yoursel and the situation, and taking a break. I pray despite the wrongs done to you, that you will be in peace, and love those who haven’t loved you.

      God bless you, and stay tuned, I am writing a blog about pastors who are in your situation to encourage them very soon.

      Grace and Peace,

      Set Free Indeed

  3. Kim said,

    I agree with everything you say but, ( there’s always a but) this is what’s happening to me.
    I have church people who I’m friends with on Facebook now I cringe at what they post but I
    hold my tongue. Now when I post, it’s in light of new things I’ve discovered, not bashing church but my posts go against what they believe. Basically I know it’s going to irritate them. Is my posting then wrong? Knowing it’s irritating is it wrong? Today I posted a thing that said, Christians are waiting for Jesus to return, yet He’s here now, in the homeless, in the drunks, the addicts and in the prostitutes. The pastor says get ready, how do we prepare by reading our bible and going to church? Jesus is in the streets and not just in the pews.
    Okay, was I wrong? I can take it.

    • Kim,

      You sound like me for sure! Yes the postings of those still in many institutions drive me crazy on social media sites, but I have to remember to bear with these people in patience, and longsuffering like our Lord did for us. We can’t forget that we were once in these same places and did the same things out of ignorance, because that is what we were taught.

      Don’t post statuses that are meant to irritate people, that is not the right motive, now if you post the truth and it happens to irritate… well… you can’t help that. Remember that these people are your brothers and sisters in Christ, and God loves them like he loves us. As for the truth, keep posting it, but with the motive to educate, and set free, in love.

      • Sarah (@sarah_df) said,

        Ya’ll both sound like me. LOL! I was told by some friends that I need to be more tactful with my facebook posts. I sometimes get a little harsh with “Christian brethern”.But that is why I have decided to stay away from Facebook. This way I can focus more on Christ than on myself and my argumentative tendencies. Keep me in your prayers and may the Lord bless you always. 🙂

  4. Tiffany said,

    Amen! Thank you for this reminder. I needed this, too! God is love and we lie if we say we know God but do not love our brother/sister.

    Keep abiding in Him!

    In Christ,

    Tiffany

  5. Dave Gilbert said,

    Excellent post.

    Personally, God has taken me on quite a journey…from repentance and conversion in a fundamental baptist church, to a long dalliance with the world, then a 2-by-4 upside my head to get my attention back on Him.

    In the process, I’ve come face to face with the issues you address here. Much to my shame I have to admit to some of this, but not all. It is all to easy to leave our first love ( Christ ) and become zealous for other things that revolve around Him, but that’s not where our attention needs to be. We need to be abiding in Him, and it’s a daily, serious thing.

    Regarding IC’s: I’ve come to the place where I will no longer participate in formal services or fellowship with those who are “entrenched” in their minds and lives in these awful constructs of religion.

    My relationship with God and His Son is through the Holy Spirit who teaches me all things, and His Word which He has opened to me gradually over the last 10 years or so…not some pastor or teacher who delivers spoonfuls from a pulpit on Sunday mornings in a temple made with hands.

    Granted, it’s all to easy (and fleshly) to vilify any and all who take part in such things as the enemy, but in reality there are without a doubt those who are coming out of it like I did.

    Christ said, “My sheep hear my voice and they follow me”. I heard and followed, separating myself from the “system” and rebuilding my understanding using God’s Word and it ALONE. I realize there are others like me out there and I don’t seek to hurt anyone (which is why I quietly left and did not “make an issue” of things) but I have SERIOUS questions about WHO people that profess Christ are listening TO.

    My reasoning says that IF they were listening to HIM, wouldn’t they then do something similar to what I did? The IC is simply too MASSIVE to change…it’s RELIGION at its finest, NOT a genuine spiritual relationship.

    UNTIL my other brothers and sisters come out of her, I can only ask that God’s will be done…on earth as it is in Heaven. But I harbor no ill will towards them for anything they may have done to me.

    I’ve realized that becoming a Pharisee is all to easy, but I also realize that God, in His process of sanctifying us to be presented to Him at our death, is the author and FINISHER of our faith and the only true claimant of a “No Child Left Behind” program.

    Conclusion: My spiritual brothers and sisters will come out and they will have every fruit and characteristic that God’s Word says they will have (including doctrine), but not on MY timetable. I need to be patient with God’s timing.

    From now on, I will be striving to walk in grace towards them that are both within and without….but I will not compromise on the truth, which is every word of God…every ACCURATE word of God.

    Love is important (and something I need a larger dose of), but even God’s love for us is CONDITIONAL… He wants us to worship Him in spirit and in truth…plus it’s only through His Son, and He absolutely WILL NOT leave us as we are.

    Truth is what unifies us, but God’s love for His children is what began the delivering of that truth. Christ is the centerpiece to everything, by which we are reconciled to Him.

    I am always looking for those whom God is working on and in, but I also want to follow His commands for me…one of which is to, ” Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness” ( or, “what fellowship hath light with darkness” would be a better passage) which could also be said to be “religious people” with no real heart for God.

    Respectfully in Christ,

    Dave.

  6. Dear Brother, I think this is one of the most profound articles I’ve seen and a long time. I was everything you described here and it has taken many years to overcome the hurt, anger, and bitterness deep rooted within me. Take courage that all is not lost, for Jesus said: To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. I have experience all you describe here and much more however I am resolved to continue on. You are right about love, there is so little of it today it’s easy to slide it to the side in the name of truth. I believe much of what we are seeing today Jesus for-told in Matthew 24:12: “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” This is a waning love which is distinguished over time marking the end of the age. Having said that, I know God still has His remnant. I pastored for several years, and left the church system for the very reasons you listed in this article. Now, I find fellowship with those I have met on the net, skype, etc. Other than that my wife and I are alone. I too am a blogger and would love to post this article on my blog with a link to yours. It needs to be said, and heard. Be not faint of heart, know that there are many more just like you out here. God Bless!

  7. Pat Rogers said,

    Excellent word, hard to hear and very convicting, as it should be. Be encouraged and take comfort your not alone and God is still changing hearts. Some times that’s a slow process and slower for some like myself. But He is faithful and will complete the work He started in all of us. Blessings to you and thanks for the article. 🙂


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