We all know that abusers love to hide in the pews, wearing “holy” garb as a disguise. It’s one of their favorite methods, and a very effective one too. I never cease to be amazed at how many of these mask-wearers are in churches.
Recently I did some searching online to see what had become of a fellow and his wife who I had known many years ago. They were church members and he was active not only in the church but also held a seminary degree and worked in a professional ministry setting with a well-known Christian organization. I found that he had died, as had his wife, and I located their obituaries and read them.
Now, the reason I am writing about this is to demonstrate to us all once more just how commonly things are not as they appear to be. And so it was in this case. The obituaries were lengthy and absolutely glowing. They told about the sacrificial, godly character of these folks, the self-sacrificing service for Christ, the awards for Christian service they had received, and how many lives were touched for Christ through them. Both obituaries lauded them as having run their race well and entered into the glory of their King Jesus. Hallelujahs and applause ring out.
Now, let me pop the bubble. In reality neither of these people demonstrated the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. Neither of them. Not even borderline. I knew them “behind the scenes.” They did not even get along well with one another. They were self-serving. They were very angry people who would punish others with that anger if they did not get what they wanted. I was the object of that anger more than once, as were many others. In my long experience with these people, I never came close to any sense of confidence that they were really genuine regenerate people. That is the real picture.
This thing is common. Very, very common. Every Christian needs to come to the realization and the wisdom of knowing that this is the very way evil comes among us and works to destroy Christ’s church and people. In disguise. In wool. Without shame, sitting right beside us and taking the bread and the cup at the communion table. We need to stop being so foolishly incredulous when a report comes our way from these kinds of peoples’ victims. “Jeff, I have to tell you – there are two Freds. The one you see at church, and the one the rest of us have to deal with through the week.”
But we are not wise. Not for the most part. Nope. Not wise at all when it comes to evil. If I were to find the people who gave the information for those glowing reports about these people whom I personally knew, and tell them the truth, they would not listen to me.
They would be angry and they would accuse me of slandering the good name of fine, Christian brethren and tell me that if I did not repent of saying these things, the Lord’s blessing would be removed from my life and ministry.
I know. I’ve heard it. And so have many of you.
For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ. (Jude 1:4)