The Church in Persecution

1 Corinthians 12 ESV (the whole chapter)

For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. 1 Corinthians 12:14-20

Like I mentioned in the previous writing on the subject of “the church,” God made us all different from one another. There is not one of us who is exactly like anyone else, not even those who are identical twins. And, God gifted us all uniquely, too. Even if we have the same gifts, he will have us use them in ways that are uniquely designed for us, but never out of his perfect will, and never in contradiction to the Word of God and its overall message.

So, we shouldn’t try to be like other people, and we shouldn’t strive to use our gifts in the same way they use theirs. And, we shouldn’t compare ourselves or our giftedness to others, either, whether we are thinking we are less than them or better than them. This is not a competition!!

I think that a lot of times people will say, “Oh, I am not very good at…” because they want attention, and they want people to say, “Oh, you are wonderful at that!” For, what may appear to be humility, sometimes, is not humility at all, but inverted pride. But, that is not always the case. Sometimes people feel they don’t belong to the body and that their body part is not needed or necessary because others give them that message.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 1 Corinthians 12:21

Do you know that this goes on all the time? Especially in today’s market-driven institutional churches, where marketing schemes and business training surpass God’s Word, it definitely happens big time! So, if you don’t fit in with the modern business model for how to do church, and for how to grow your church (business), then you might be encouraged to “go someplace else” where you will be a “better fit.” I have been told that several times, and I wasn’t doing anything wrong.

I believe the Lord is leading me to share this one example this afternoon:

My husband and I had had a ministry to college age adults out of our home for four years (a total of 7.5 years). We had made several attempts to connect this ministry with a local church fellowship (an institutional church), but with every attempt, the door would eventually close, which I now believe was by God’s design – his intervention. This was our fourth attempt.

We contacted this church to see if they would be interested in partnering with us in ministry to college students. We met with them and we shared with them our heart for ministry to college students, and we shared with them what we valued at that time. Number one was teaching them the Word of God in all practicality so that they could apply it to their lives. Second was to get them involved in ministry, and to give each of them a part, something that they could do, where they would feel that they were needed, wanted and valued. And, that definitely fits with this passage of scripture here.

The church leaders agreed, and we began partnering together in ministry. And, it went well for several months, maybe even as long as six months until… One day the pastor called me into his office and he asked me, “Would you say that your praise team would ‘draw in large crowds of people’?” My heart sank. I had a feeling where this was headed. I asked him why he was asking me that. Well, he said he had another praise team that he thought would “draw in large crowds of people” and he wanted me/us to consider letting him replace our praise team with this other praise band.

Although I didn’t feel it was right to replace our praise team just to bring in another band, which would draw in crowds, I submitted to the pastor, and I agreed to bring this before our ministry team, which included some of these college age adults. And, then our ministry team met with the pastor to talk with him about this. His response? “I would never do that.” So, I asked, “Then what did you mean by what you said to me?” His response, “I would never do that.” It was a non-denial denial, for he didn’t say that he didn’t say that, he only said that he wouldn’t do that.

I had several subsequent conversations with him about this, for I was still trying to ascertain why he would say that to me and then tell our team that he wouldn’t do that, but he kept answering me the same way. And, then he told the elders of the church about it, and then they demanded that I meet with them privately, and they set a prerequisite for the meeting that I had to admit that I lied about the pastor. But, I didn’t lie. I had no reason to lie. Lying was not my practice.

So, I wrote to the elders, and I appealed to them to please reconsider this, and to remove the prerequisite to this meeting, but they refused. So, I had no recourse other than to not attend their meeting, because I could not tell a lie. And, so they put me on church discipline. And, then my husband and I and our college ministry all went back to our home, which I believe is where God wanted us, and which is why he kept closing these doors.

But, was how they treated me fair? No! Was it just? No! Was it loving? Definitely not. They were Christians. They were the leaders of the church. And, they wouldn’t even give me a chance to defend myself against their accusations. They just charged me as guilty and then they cast their verdict, and then they executed the punishment without even hearing me out.

After that I made several attempts to get this reconciled with them, but they stood by their decision. And, so today the Lord brought this back to my mind, and so I sent a letter to the man who was the main leader there, and I have asked him to make this right with me, so I pray God will soften his heart and that he will be reconciled with me about this matter, for it has now been 16 years since this took place.

On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. 1 Corinthians 12:22-26

But, God is good! He used this in my life, and many other situations where I was treated unfairly and unlovingly and where I was basically told, “We have no need of you!” and he has brought good out of them in my life. Through each one of these situations where I was told I was not wanted or I was accused falsely of something I did not do, God strengthened me in my faith and in my walk with him, and he used each of these situations as stepping stones in preparation for the present ministry he has given to me.

For, the Lord has me confronting sin, exposing lies, calling people to repentance, calling people to obedience to Christ, and teaching the truth of his Word, the whole counsel of God, daily, and he has been doing that in my life for the past 13.5 years (daily). And, I would not have been prepared to stand strong against the enemy, and against opposition, if I had not been through some of the things I had been through.

So, although I was treated unfairly and unjustly, God allowed this in my life to make me into who I am today doing what he has called me to do. And, he encouraged me one day through this verse here where it says:

But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.

For, I was definitely one of those parts which was lacking in honor, but God gave honor to me by calling me to this ministry. And, when we think of the body of Christ universally, and not just in the sense of one local congregation, we realize that God puts us all in assigned areas within his universal body, especially when we are rejected locally, so that there would be no division in his body.

But, I believe with all my heart that God allowed me to be rejected by so many local congregations and their leaders (within the institutional church) because he had something for me to do outside of a local body, but part of his universal body in writing what he teaches me each day and putting it on the internet where people from all over the world can read it. And, so I am needed now, and I am wanted, and I am treated with value, just like was our goal to treat these young adults God had placed in our care.

You Gave Me Love

By Claire D. Cloninger / Archie Jordan

You gave me time when no one gave me time of day,
You looked deep inside while the rest of the world looked away,
You smiled at me when there were just frowns everywhere,
You gave me love when nobody gave me a prayer.

That’s why I call You Saviour … that’s why I call You Friend…

 

2 thoughts on “The Church in Persecution

  1. I remember years ago being pushed out of a ministry I had helped found. I was crushed, but in retrospect, I see that I had maybe invested too much of myself into this ministry, and it may have become an idol. (Yes, a ministry can be an idol!) I was so upset that for several months I would wake up in the middle of the night and stay away for several hours, stewing. After a while I began to write during these quiet hours of the morning and found it therapeutic. When I had a very memorable dream, I wrote it as a journal entry, which became a short story, which grew into a novel, which eventually grew into a trilogy. And now I’m a writer, which I believe I where I have belonged in the Body of Christ all along. And I am not the slightest bit mad at any of the people who pushed me out of “my” ministry. They were instruments of God to bring me where I am.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Good! Good! Yes, God allows these situations for our good, and sometimes it is to move us away from a ministry where he doesn’t want us so that he can move us toward a ministry where he does want us. Thank you for sharing that.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s