August 14, 2011
You Left the IC, but has the IC Left YOU?
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.
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.