This is What Enables Evil to Hide in Our Churches

This post is difficult for me to write because I have lived it so many, many times. The subject gets my blood pressure, dander, ire and anger “up” big time. I hate this stuff. It is soooo prevalent in our churches and there is no excuse for it. This time, as is so common, it comes from a pastor.

Now, I do not know Pastor Brian G. Najapfour, pastor of Dutton United Reformed Church in Michigan. I did however read his recent article in The Outlook magazine entitled “Reflections from My 16 Years of Experience as a Pastor.” I am not trying to do him harm here, but I am attempting to keep his words from doing harm to others.

First of all, let me say that 16 years is not very long. I have been a pastor now for 38 years and it seems like it has only been in the last six or so that I really started to grasp real wisdom, especially wisdom about wickedness parading in the church in a Christian disguise. Perhaps in another 20 years Pastor Najapfour will see the nature and tactics of evil more clearly. I hope so.

But listen now to what he wrote in this part of his article:

In the ministry you will encounter someone who will dislike you for no good reason. And that person can be one of your church leaders. I remember talking to a fellow pastor of another congregation. He told me that one of his elders just doesn’t like him and he did not know why. This elder treats him unfairly and negatively. When dealing with people like this elder, seek by God’s grace to always take the high road. Don’t pay these people back with evil for the evil they do to you (1 Pet 3:9). Instead, pray for them and show more the love of Christ to them.

Why does this kind of thing get me so riled? Because for years and years as a pastor I was told this stuff by people who were supposedly eminent holy wise ones in Christendom. I read it in their books. I heard them say it in sermons. Some of them told me these things in person. And all the while it kept me in bondage to evil.

There is no excuse for a minister of the gospel to teach such things. Why? Because God’s Word is so very, very clear and what Pastor Najapfour says is absolutely contrary to Scripture. What he is doing is teaching as Scripture what is really the tradition of man. Let me bullet-point what he is saying:

  • A Christian can dislike another Christian for no good reason
  • Such a Christian can even be a church elder
  • A Christian can treat another Christian unfairly and negatively
  • A Christian can do evil to another Christian
  • And a Christian can do these things habitually, in an ongoing pattern, with no repentance
  • The Lord’s command to us is to pray for such a person and show them the love of Christ

Now, what does God’s Word really have to say on this? Here you go:

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. 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. (1 John 2:9-11)

No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:9-10)

See it? There is nothing unclear about God’s Word and there is everything unclear about man’s traditions parading as Scripture. What this pastor is saying is exactly opposite of what the Apostle John writes here. The result? An evil man parading as a Christian is allowed to remain in church leadership, continuing in his abusive ways for his own glory as he lusts for power and control. How should he be dealt with according to Scripture? The Apostle John has the answer to that question to, in the second paragraph of this passage:

Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. (3 John 1:5-11 NIV) 

Now, what do these words of Pastor Najapfour accomplish in regard to an abuse victim and her abuser in a local church? Most all of you know the answer because you have lived it. The abuser is going to be most certainly enabled, allowed to go right on parading as a Christian, his salvation never, ever challenged and in fact he is not even going to be confronted. His victim? Well, Pastor Najapfour gives the same common and terrible counsel to her ‘ “suck it up, be a better Christian yourself, love him more and pray for him.”

Do you see why what he has written makes me so angry? I lived it. For decades I lived it as a pastor in three local churches. I was in bondage to this very same false teaching until ultimately, after over 25 years in that condition, the Lord turned the lights on for me. I saw these kinds of people Najapfour tells us we must love, pray for, and be sooooo patient with, for what they truly are. Wolves in wool. Children of the devil parading as sons of righteousness. And we are to deal with them as such, not as Christian brethren who sometimes sin.

That is Christ’s truth. And it really does set us free.

Kelly Orr Tells Her Story of Abuse

Our good friends Kelly Orr and Alice Childers traveled out to Tillamook this last weekend and Kelly told the story of the abuse she suffered not only at the hands of her ex-spouse, but also from her ex-church and pastor. She made the presentation during the Sunday morning class time and we livestreamed it on The CRC Facebook page. This link here is from our channel at Youtube.

Kelly and her children are amazing survivors and genuine Christians. Fred and Alice (you may have seen me introduce Fred some months back in the Sunday morning class when he visited here) are also incredible people who, along with their children, have also suffered for Christ.

So be sure and listen to Kelly’s presentation here. And Orthodox Presbyterians – if you hear this, it is a call for your denomination to repent of what was done to Kelly.

Loyalty is a Fundamental Quality of Love

2Ti 4:16 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!

2Ti 1:15-16 You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. (16) May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains,

Loyalty. Sticking with through thick and thin. You have the thing is traditional marriage vows – “in sickness and in health.” And yet it is a very rare gem, as the Apostle Paul describes his experience above. There are a few like Onesiphorus, but most desert and jump ship when a cost must be paid.

2Sa 23:14-16 David was then in the stronghold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then at Bethlehem. (15) And David said longingly, “Oh, that someone would give me water to drink from the well of Bethlehem that is by the gate!” (16) Then the three mighty men broke through the camp of the Philistines and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem that was by the gate and carried and brought it to David. But he would not drink of it. He poured it out to the LORD

Loyalty stands with. It does not desert nor abandon. A loyal friend does what the Lord commands – bears one another’s burdens. Do you begin to see how rare this is – particularly in the place where it should be most easily found – the visible church. I do not doubt that most of you have been abandoned when it became “inconvenient” for friends to stick with you.

Think of Jonathan’s loyal love and friendship toward David:

1Sa 18:3-4 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. (4) And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.

Jonathan had a LOT to lose by being loyal to David when Saul, his father, was trying to kill David. And yet Jonathan stuck with his friend:

1Sa 19:1-2 And Saul spoke to Jonathan his son and to all his servants, that they should kill David. But Jonathan, Saul’s son, delighted much in David. (2) And Jonathan told David, “Saul my father seeks to kill you. Therefore be on your guard in the morning. Stay in a secret place and hide yourself.

Loyalty is an essential, defining quality of love. Where there is the love of Christ, there is loyalty to Christ. Where it is absent, love is absent. People who claim to know Christ, but who desert Christ’s people in adversity, will not be owned by Him. This is widely denied among professing Christians today. I remember hearing a man who used to be in our church argue that this fellow surely was still a Christian:

2Ti 4:10 For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.

Demas blew it, this fellow said, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t still saved. WRONG! Demas chose the world over Christ. Why do professing Christians seem to want to defend his salvation? I can tell you why. Because they want to lower the bar and make it easier on themselves.

Central in virtually ALL the stories you have told me about how you were treated by family, friends, your pastor, your church is this thing, desertion. DIS-loyalty. Scripture reveals loyalty, or its lack, as a central litmus test of a person’s spiritual state. And so I say once again, if you want to know where a person or a church stands with Christ, look into how they respond to a victim of abuse. The truth is that the majority of them are of the same species as Demas. They love this present world.