Jeremiah 23:1-3 ESV
“’Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!’ declares the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who care for my people: ‘You have scattered my flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for your evil deeds, declares the Lord. Then I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply.’”
Woe to the Shepherds
So, it was probably in 1999 that my eyes began to be opened to the spiritual condition of today’s modern institutional churches. But this was just the beginning of my journey of learning what is presently going on in the church at large here in America. And year by year it continually gets worse. And when I read about and hear about some of the stuff that is going on in “churches” here in America today, it literally breaks my heart, for I know it breaks God’s heart, i.e. it grieves him to see how his church has declined.
Now, our family had been attending a local church gathering from 1995 to 1999 that was not working out well for our family spiritually, so we went, as a family, in search of something that would hopefully be what we were hoping for. But it didn’t turn out that way. But this journey was an educational experience for me, which I needed, so that I would know what is going on so that I can write about what is going on, for not everyone knows these things. I surely didn’t! I was clueless about so much of this back then.
Well, the first thing I began to see is how various churches all seemed to be following the same man and his teachings on how to grow their churches, and it didn’t matter if the church was Presbyterian or Baptist or Methodist or Christian & Missionary Alliance (the denomination I grew up under), or whatever. This was cross-denominational. They all seemed to be (and I am certain there are exceptions) adopting a business model for how to grow their churches that led them to then market their churches to the world.
And since they were now working on how to market their churches to the world, they were adopting the ways of the world in order to attract large crowds of people from the world to their gatherings. And so they also diluted the gospel message to make it more attractive and acceptable to the people of the world and to human flesh. And so you hardly hear anyone these days teaching on repentance and obedience to the Lord and of the consequences if we do not walk in obedience to the Lord but we continue in deliberate sin.
And it just keeps getting worse and worse, and so many of them are now blending in modern psychology and middle eastern religious practices and all sorts of man-created teachings which are not biblical, and I’m like, “Just read your Bibles!” And I mean that nicely, but also passionately. So many Christians are turning to everything and everyone but to God/Jesus and to the Scriptures to teach them how they ought to live and how to solve their problems. And so they are not, for the most part, obeying the Scriptures.
And then we have so many people within the church who are living in deliberate and habitual sin, and marriages and families are falling apart because of the sins of one spouse or both and because the church is doing nothing to help these families out of slavery to sin and to healing and to walks of obedience to the Lord. And most of these men’s support groups do nothing to help men to true deliverance from sexual idolatry because they are told not to counsel one another with the Scriptures, in many cases.
And then statistics (which you can find on the internet) have it that as much as 75% of Christian men regularly view pornography and that at least 35% to 50% of pastors are in the same boat. So is it any wonder that sin is no longer being dealt with biblically in most churches here in America and that pastors are diluting the gospel so as not to offend people? Sin is running rampant in most institutional (market-driven) churches because the gospel is being diluted and because the pastors are not doing their job.
They Have Not Attended to Them
And then let me tell you something else. And this was brought up in a conversation I had with a friend who called me while I was writing this and who was talking with me about some of the sins of her church from over the course of its existence for over 100 years now, I think, which was my home church when I was growing up. So, I shared with her some of my experiences growing up in that church. I did not generally have issues with the church, that I recall, other than in this one area.
My parents attended that church for all 86 years of their lives and they were married to each other for nearly 55 years. But my father was a bully and an abuser who physically, mentally, emotionally, and verbally abused my mother and me and my four siblings, and he sexually abused at least me and my two sisters. And when I finally had the courage to tell the pastor, all that happened was my dad was admitted to a mental hospital for 1.5 years and then released and then he came home and tried to continue as usual.
So, the church did nothing to support us kids or our mother, that I am aware of, during the time my dad was in the hospital or prior to him being allowed to come back into the home or from that point forward. Now the beatings stopped, but the verbal (mental/emotional) abuse never stopped, not even when my mother was dying in the hospital. He tried again with me sexually but I told him “No!” and I told my mother, so that stopped with me, but I know he continued with my youngest sister for another ten years and that really messed her up and she never did get over it. So the church failed us.
Then, I married a sex addict, not knowing that I did, who is also an abuser, not physically, but mentally and emotionally. And he has been living in adultery against me all 50 years of our marriage, and this is public information because we both decided to make it public nearly five years ago in order to help other people like us. And I have tried to get pastors and elders of churches to do what the Scriptures teach when a man in the church is living in sexual immorality, but no one would, and no one gave me any support, either. So I have had to fight this battle alone, but with God.
And I am not telling you this so that you will feel sorry for me or so you will think badly of my husband. If anything, please pray for him, and please pray for us and our marriage. But I am sharing this with you because this is what this passage of Scripture is talking about. It is talking about the shepherds of the sheep who do not shepherd their flocks but they abandon them. They don’t bring the sex addict to repentance and to accountability and they provide no emotional support for spouses of addicts. And addiction is a sin, not a disease and not an illness. So, if you are a sex addict, it is a sin.
Now, again, I am certain there are exceptions to this and that this does not describe every church congregation in America, but it describes the majority of them. That is abundantly clear! They all seem to be more concerned about making everyone feel good and not offended than they are concerned about sin. So, they won’t deal with serious sin issues which are destroying the church and marriages and families and people’s lives. And so the sheep are scattered because the shepherds of the sheep are not nurturing them, but so many of them are busy catering to the people of the world, instead.
And you know what, even though the church, overall, abandoned me and deserted me and did not help me, my Lord did not desert me. He did not abandon me. And where the church rejected me and turned me away, my Lord received me. And where they had no use for me, the Lord had use for me, and he is using me in people’s lives today. And this is what this passage is about. It is a message of hope and healing for those deserted by the church (not just one church).
For God has a purpose for each one of our lives, and he has planned that we should be fruitful and multiply, despite what other humans do to us. So if you have been abandoned by the church and its shepherds, then let the Lord heal you, and let him use you for his glory.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
Caution: This link may contain ads