If You Stand Against Evil, Don’t Expect to Have Many Stand With You

2Ti 4:9-17 Do your best to come to me soon. (10) For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia. (11) Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry. (12) Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. (13) When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments. (14) Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds. (15) Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message. (16) At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! (17) But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion’s mouth.

The common, regular experience of Christ’s genuine people as they stand faithfully for Him is exactly what Paul describes here. “All deserted me.”

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,

Over and over again it is the same:

Php 2:20-21 For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare. (21) For they all seek their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.

Mar 14:50 And they all left him and fled.

This is why I am immediately suspicious of any kind of “ministry” that claims to serve Christ and yet enjoys popularity and a large following. By “large,” I do not necessarily mean the tens of thousands in a so-called “mega-church.” Rather, I mean even a much smaller number. How, for example, do you attract, say, several hundred people nowadays and still faithfully and accurately proclaim God’s truth and follow Him? And yet this kind of thing is thought to be the norm, something we must expect to happen and if it does not then we are miserable failures.

Joh 6:65-66 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” (66) After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.

Jesus failed, you see. At least by current measures of ministry “success.”

You say that you want to follow Christ? That you want to be light and stand against the darkness of evil? Well, make no mistake. Largely you are going to be doing this alone. If you are really blessed, you will have a few faithful brothers and sisters in Christ who will stand with you, but not many. And even that number may grow thinner when the times get tougher and the cost grows higher. I am sure that this is the reason Jesus said:

Mat 10:36-39 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. (37) Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (38) And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (39) Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

Think it through. Think of the Old Testament prophets. Think of the other Apostles. Think of the Reformers in the later history of the church. Think of our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Betrayed and abandoned. Alone. Why do we expect that it will be different for us? Why do we envy “ministries” that attract lots of people, put up big new buildings, and are abuzz with all kinds of activity? The biblical pattern of faithful, genuine service of the Lord is nothing like that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bear One Another’s Burdens? Then Why are the Oppressed Being Told to go it Alone?

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

When it comes to evil attacking Christ’s people (always of course in the form of agents of evil who most often disguise themselves as fellow sheep), Christ commands us to come to one another’s aid. We always did this when I was a police officer. Call for help and the whole force would come running to back you up.

For the most part I stopped experiencing this backup when I resigned from the police force on a Friday and became a pastor on Sunday. Although in these past few years now we really do back up one another in our church. We are down to the genuine core.

Wicked people like to single out their victim, getting them away from the flock and abusing, assaulting, molesting, enslaving them in secret. It’s the age old wolf tactic you know. All of us must constantly be on guard for this strategy of darkness and never be surprised when it is discovered among us.

Now, Christ tells us that we are to bear one another’s burdens. He says elsewhere through the Apostle Paul something very similar-

Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

And so I want to ask you. In these dark, dark times in the evangelical church, are we seeing churches being obedient to these marching orders of our Lord? With few exceptions, I have to give this answer:  no way. In fact what is happening is that people who are being oppressed by evil are being sent away by churches and essentially told, “go suffer for Jesus. Stay in the oppression. And don’t bother us by talking about it anymore.”

You say that is too harsh and that I am exaggerating? I can prove to you that it is not. All you have to do is read the first hand accounts of hundreds of people who testify that this is precisely how they were treated when they exposed the evil they were being assaulted by and asked their pastor, elder, fellow church member, for help. Did they experience a whole team ready to back them up, all set and prepared to shoulder their burden and do what was necessary to protect them? In a few cases, yes. But in very, very, very few.

How can anyone claim to be living out the love of Jesus Christ when their “bearing another’s burdens” is all just talk? Or worse, outright telling the “victim “it’s your cross to bear”? That is precisely the evil that James shouts at hypocrites about:

James 2:15-16 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, (16) and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?

Let’s translate that so no one misses it. “If a brother or sister is being abused or sexually molested, if they have no money because their abuser refuses to provide for them, and you say ‘Go! Be quiet now. Trust Jesus. Forgive your oppressor and reconcile with him,’ when all the while you have the necessary means to stop that oppression, what good is your religion? It is worthless. It is worse than worthless.”

Where we see a habitual refusal to share the burdens of the oppressed among us, we can know that we are looking at counterfeit religion.