Joh 13:34-35 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. (35) By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
1Jn 2:10-11 Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. (11) But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
As I look back over many years of Christian ministry now, I am seeing with more clarity one way in which I was frequently duped by the enemy and his servants. As I have grown wiser in this regard, I am accused of being “too judgmental” and of “over-reacting.” Nope. I’m not.
Let me explain by illustration.
The first church that I was assigned to pastor was way out in the Rocky Mountains. We were sent there by a home missions organization that we had joined after coming into contact with them at a missions conference. They had quite a large number of pastors throughout the U.S. and Canada and focused on serving churches in small rural areas where perhaps a church had closed down years before. And of course we were quite excited about going.
Now, as I look back on that experience (we were with them for eight years), I have come to realize that the founder and director of that missions agency was actually a rather mean individual. He was given to chewing out the pastors on both an individual basis and at the annual conferences. People who had known him for very long had experienced his “gruffness” as it was often referred to. His district ministers more than once had to smooth over the hurt feelings he caused.
What I am saying is, this fellow was not a kind man. Oh he was quite smooth when he wanted to be. I heard him more than once give a kind of “sales pitch” when he was putting across one of his ideas and he could be quite flattering at those times.
And yet, in my naivete I failed to discern that there was a real problem there. I did not see that his behavior and character were not in agreement with what the Bible says characterizes a real Christian. That is to say, I did not understand that I did not feel loved by him as a brother in Christ. But because of the traditions and teachings that had been laid upon my in my Christian life and education, I failed to discern. I failed to apply the tests Christ has given us.
This man was by no means the last mean Christian I would meet in my years as a pastor. I could go on giving more true stories of many, many more who were quite often “pillars” in the churches I served as pastor.
This mean spirit spreads like leaven in a church. A person like this draws others like himself or herself and often an entire team is formed that lords it over the flock. I can remember, for instance, at one annual conference one of the mission director’s right hand men addressing everyone in a corporate session. He was slamming us all because in his view we were not giving big enough offerings to the mission (most all of us were pretty poor and were required to raise a good chunk of financial support ourselves). In retrospect, th0se conferences always laid lots of guilt on everyone and I inevitably went home discouraged about being a failure.
What was really happening? Mean people are not Christians. It is long past time that we stopped making excuses for them. Christ has told us what one primary badge of His people is: love. Do you feel and sense that you are loved? If not, then realize this – the one who does not love Christ’s people does not belong to Christ.
And this, more than any other reason, is why so many of you have been treated so wickedly in the “christian” world.