By Joe McKeever, Retired Pastor, Author
“Evil people and imposters will become worse (in the last days), deceiving and being deceived.”
(2 Timothy 3:13)
Can we talk about imposters?
Specifically church-dropouts who say they love the Lord.
Recently, we were having a lively Facebook discussion about church leadership and whether divorced people – specifically someone with multiple divorces – should be considered for deacon.
Some of the responses were of the following nature: “People like you are the reason I no longer go to church.” These are my candidates for “hypocrites of the year.”
I submit to you that anyone who points the finger at another Christian – even someone who is mean-spirited and wrong-headed about everything – and says, “You are the reason I no longer go to church” is being dishonest.
A liberal professor is the reason I don’t read my Bible. My parents are the reason I don’t go to Sunday School (“I was made to go as a child!”). A bad preacher is the reason I don’t like long sermons.
A church practiced racism or elitism or liberalism or was unfriendly, and so you decided to write off all churches?
A pastor ran off with the organist and you abandoned the kingdom of God?
Your father was the pastor and because of the mistreatment this good man endured at the hands of some evil people, you no longer believe in the church?
C’mon, man. Get real.
“Deceiving and being deceived” is how the Apostle Paul put it in our text. That’s an interesting expression. As certain people spread their falsehood, Paul says, they get caught up in their own snare and start believing it.
One of the first things a religious cult does with a new convert is to get him teaching others. As he deceives them with the false doctrine, he ingrains the wickedness further into his own soul. Deceiving others, yes, but mostly himself.
Let me ask a question of anyone who no longer goes to church and blames the misbehavior of certain church-people: Would you stop going to visit your elderly parents because of a falling out with your siblings? That’s really what you are saying when you play the lame blame game:
“Dear Mom and Dad: You know I love you. But because Ronnie was mean to me when we were children, because Glenn once took my lunch money, because Patricia ran off and left me when we were walking home from school, because Carolyn didn’t help me with my homework, and because Charlie told a lie about me one day, that’s why I no longer come home. Sorry.”
Where is the logic in that? This my friend is why I suggest you might be a faker. If you cite the misbehavior of some of God’s children as your reasons for not going to church, you are my candidate for someone “deceived and being deceived.”
To be sure, there are some racists in church. Yes, some preachers run off with the organists. It is also true some pastors are crooks who prey on the unsuspecting or rob the church bank account. And some church members are unfriendly, unloving, do not know their Bibles and have no business representing the Lord Jesus Christ.
However, someone else’s shortcomings and sins are no excuse to write off the church.
Someone protests, “Just because I no longer go to church does not mean I do not love the Lord. I do love Him, but not His people.” Sorry, Charlie or Charlene, it doesn’t work that way.
The Church is the Body of Christ, the household of faith, the Bride of Christ, the temple of God. Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. Do you dismiss so easily what Christ values so highly?
Please, cease playing the lame blame game that insists you are part of the Church universal even though you declare you no longer have any use for the congregations in your town. Show me that in the Bible. Nowhere can you find a justification for this self-deception.
I do have a suggestion. Humble yourself as a little child.
Confess to the Lord what you are doing and ask for His forgiveness. Ask Him to forgive you for turning away from Him and the blaming others. Ask Him to show you the real cause for your attitude and your withdrawal from church.
Then, when you finish, ask Him to lead you to a church where you can heal and grow.
Ask Him to help you to keep the focus on the Lord Jesus and not on the people in the pews or in leadership. Expect those people to be human and to make mistakes sometimes. Ask God to help you to show them the same grace you wish to receive.
Finally, may I suggest a brief scripture?
In Luke 18:9-14, our Lord speaks of two men praying in the temple. One is justifying himself while at the same time putting down others. (Sound like anyone you know?) The other is humble, childlike, and honest.
Guess which of the two is accepted by the Lord and blessed.
Have a wonderful day. Oh, and please come back to church. We miss you.