Christ-Centered Church Life – Hindrances #3
There are certain things that hinder and can even destroy a church and its Christ-centered life. I hesitate to write this blog lest people think I am being negative and not ‘grace-full’. However if we do not understand what hinders the life of a congregation we are not able to guard against the devils schemes against us. Make no mistake, the devil is very serious about inserting these hindrances and more so that our fellowships will not be Christ-centered. The devil wants to destroy our effectiveness in our own lives and in our communities. Let me say that these practices and attitudes are prevalent in most churches today and they must be dealt with if your church is going to accomplish Gods will for you and your congregation.
- Complaining, critical and judgmental condemning spirit- these are typical practices and attitudes in many congregations today. They begin because we do not agree with what is going on in the church, we think we have a better way of doing things, so we set out to convince the leaders that we are right. If that doesn’t work then we begin to politic in the congregation and win others over to our side so we can change things. Of course this begins to cause division in the congregation rather than the unity that God desires us to come to. 1 Cor 4:1-5; Matt 7:1-2; Jas 5:8-9
- Disunity and divisiveness – when people are divisive they cause disunity in any group of people. When disunity is present the plans God has for a congregation are seriously hindered and this kind of a situation can end in a church split with most of the people being damaged and feeling rejected. These attitudes, at least, cause division and the hindrance of progress and accomplishment of plans. Jude 17-21; Mk 3:24-25;
- Gossip, faultfinding, and complaining – these are also prevalent in the Church today and these practices account for much of the lack of grace and love in congregations. Gossip is the practice of quietly – in secret – telling some ‘juicy’ information about someone, it is usually negative and slanted by prejudices or hurt feelings and it is a dreadful sin that causes much hurt, rejection, and division in a congregation.
Wikipedia Definition:”The Epistle to the Romans associates gossips (“backbiters”) with a list of sins including sexual immorality and with murder:
28: And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;
29: Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,
30: Backbiters (literally gossips), haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,
31: Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
32: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them. (Romans 1:28-32)
According to Matthew 18, Jesus also taught that conflict resolution among church members ought to begin with the aggrieved party attempting to resolve their dispute with the offending party alone. Only if this did not work would the process escalate to the next step, in which another church member would become involved. After that if the person at fault still would not “hear”, the matter was to be fully investigated by the church elders, and if not resolved to be then exposed publicly.
In order to gossip, writes Phil Fox Rose, we “must harden our heart towards the ‘out’ person. We draw a line between ourselves and them; define them as being outside the rules of Christian charity… We create a gap between ourselves and God’s Love.” As we harden our heart towards more people and groups, he continues, “this negativity and feeling of separateness will grow and permeate our world, and we’ll find it more difficult to access God’s love in any aspect of our lives.”
But, it should be recognized that the Bible is both in favor of Group Accountability (Ephesians 5:11; 1st Tim 5:20; James 5:16; Gal 6:1-2; 1 Cor 12:26) as well as against Gossip (Proverbs 18:8; Romans 1:29; 2 Cor 12:20; 1 Tim 5:13; 3 John 1:10).”
- Accusing of the brethren – my way is better than yours… you just don’t know… he is a liar… she has a bad sin in her life… they are not mature Christians… etc.
- Individualism and independence – I don’t need anybody but Jesus and the Holy Spirit…We are not called and saved by God to be individuals or independent from others. We are called to be fully dependant on God and interdependent with our brothers and sisters in our congregation. God has called us His family, the BODY of Christ. No one person is to function alone, rather we are called and placed in the Body as God sees fit to function in our place of gifting and ability with others of the same body and calling. Seeking to be independent is actually a rejection of how God desires and has planned for us to exist.
- Self-centeredness and pride – the opposite of self-centered is to love God with our total being and to love others as our self – the way Jesus showed us while He was on earth. The way we are to deal with pride is to kill it every time it raises its ugly head in us. Jesus is again our example:
2 Then make me truly happy by agreeing wholeheartedly with each other, loving one another, and working together with one mind and purpose.
3 Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. 4 Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.
5 You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. 6 Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. 7 Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being.
When he appeared in human form, 8 he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. 9 Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
- Not putting God and His ways first – this is another way of being selfish, individualistic, self-centered and rejecting God and His ways. We are called to submit to and obey God in all things, we are called to put off the old ways and put on the new ways that God has provided for us so we can live in freedom and health. When we put our self and our ways first we are – in essence – worshipping and serving our self… Matt 2:37-40
- Not loving our brethren and putting them first – this is the opposite of loving our neighbors and considering their needs as important as our own. Matt 2:37-40
- Not repenting of fleshly ways in our life – but self justifying – we are called to a life of becoming more and more like Jesus [progressive sanctification]. This involves owning our fleshly actions and attitudes and repenting [turning away] from them and putting on Christ.
- Thinking we are spiritually mature when we are not – we will know if we are spiritually mature when we see Jesus in and thru us, when we have dealt with the actions and attitudes listed above. Spiritual maturity has nothing to do with how long we have been saved, how much doctrine or theology we know, how many years we have been in ministry or how long we have been leaders, how many people follow us, or any other thing about us…
Spiritual maturity has everything to do with how much we reveal Jesus and His life, grace, and love in and thru us… how truly humble we are [not how humble we think we are], [Do people see and experience Jesus when they are with us?], how we love God totally and how fully we love our neighbors and brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ. How united and supportive we are of the church and it’s ministry for Jesus… including trusting Jesus to guide us thru the spiritual leaders He gives us in the Church…
Are we an active, committed, serving, member of the congregation that Christ has placed us in? Or are we dissenters and complainers, judges and dividers??? Do we unite and heal or divide and hurt??? Are we submissive and obedient or individualistic and divisive???
When we begin to think that our Church and its leaders are not following the Lords direction we need to first look into our own hearts and see if we are able to ‘hear’ the Lord because we have pure motives and are free from these kinds of attitudes and actions…
Once again I want to give the reminder that I am not trying to be negative, I am endeavoring to help us to see the kinds of attitudes and actions that hinder the Body of Christ from being what God wants us to be and to be able to do what the Lord wants us to do and to have what the Lord wants us to have… If we don’t know about them we will not recognize and deal with them as we should, first in our own hearts…
If we do find these kinds of attitudes in our heart, God loves us still and He wants us to be free from them – that’s why Jesus died and rose again – so we can be freed from these kinds of things… so we can be the healthy Body of Christ and Family of God on the earth… so others will want to be part of us, in Christ.
With Compassion and Love for God’s People and Church