We do Not Really Understand What it Means to “Bear One Another’s Burdens”

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

This is a verse of Scripture that is frequently quoted but almost never truly understood. The typical dealings of a local church with a victim of evil proves that this is the case. Let me explain.

Most all of you who follow this blog have been targeted by evil – by abuse of some type (domestic, spiritual, sexual, etc). You were there. The abuser abused YOU. The abuser hated and hates YOU. It was YOU who had to deal with him. It was YOU who had to expose him, confront him, report him, protect yourself and your children from him. YOU had to do all this. YOU were the one who was there.

And yet what happened when you went to your pastor, your church, your fellow church members, for help? I can tell you because this is what almost always happens:

  • You heard your abuser excused or at least his sins minimized
  • You heard people remind you that “you are a sinner too” (a lie by the way. The Christian is not perfect, but is no longer classed as a “sinner” by God)
  • You saw people seem to show some empathy toward you, and yet they continued to associate with your abuser
  • While YOU could not tolerate being in the presence of your abuser without being re-traumatized, your fellow Christians continue on visiting with him and often even attending church with him still seated in the pews.

Such “friends” have failed to do what Paul says is the fulfillment of the Law of God. They have failed to truly extend genuine love toward you because they have failed to bear your burden. Why?

They failed because they think they know. They think that they understand what you have gone through at the hands of the evil one. But they do not know. They do not understand. And really, they don’t want to. It is too troubling and unpleasant.

If we are going to bear the burdens of victims of evil, then WE are going to have listen to them very, very closely. WE are going to have learn about how this kind of evil works. WE must put their shoes on and walk in their steps and do our best to understand just what it means to be THE target of abuse. And until you understand that, you will fail to fulfill the Law of Christ. You will continue to have no real problem attending a church service with the victim’s oppressor. You will have no real trouble chatting with the abuser when you run into him in the grocery store. Worse, you will piously preach at the victim – “come on! Move on! Quit reflecting on the past. Forgive.” – and other such whitewashed tomb talk.

Tell me, you who are comfortable in the presence of a wicked, oppressing person? Tell me. Why? How is it that anyone can truly understand the evil worked upon a victim (who YOU claim to “love”) and still be comfortable in the presence of that evil? Let me answer for you – you cannot. You do not. And until you do, you are failing to fulfill the Law of Christ. You are not loving the widows and orphans.

And God sees it all.

A Few More Thoughts on “The Happy Church”

I recently posted the article Beware the Happy Church and add some additional thoughts this morning. Consider again the following:

1Co 11:20-30 When you come together, it is not the Lord’s supper that you eat. (21) For in eating, each one goes ahead with his own meal. One goes hungry, another gets drunk. (22) What! Do you not have houses to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God and humiliate those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I commend you in this? No, I will not. (23) For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, (24) and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” (25) In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” (26) For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

(27) Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. (28) Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. (29) For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. (30) That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.

Let me suggest to you that what was going on at Corinth was “the Happy Hour” church. Party time. Here is a line you often hear from the pulpit of such a “church” nowadays: “What a wonderful place this is. So many exciting things happening. The Lord is doing mighty things here.” Such statements are made to tickle the ears of the flock and promote continued numerical growth. But what is the real state of affairs in the Happy Hour “church”? I can tell you:

1Co 5:1-2 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that is not tolerated even among pagans, for a man has his father’s wife. (2) And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you.

That is to say, the Happy Hour church is full of sin. That is why the numbers are increasing so rapidly. It isn’t the Lord’s work at all. There is another spirit behind the scenes parading as an angel of light.

Lest you think I am just oh so negative, let me tell you what you will find if you were a fly on the wall in such a place. There are men abusing their wives in those pews. There are unrepentant adulterers parading as saints. There are egos looking to be stroked. Like Diotrephes (3 John) they “serve the Lord” in order to be “first” above everyone else. There are unsaved people being told they are Christians even though they walk in sin, having no desire for the real truths of God’s Word. I know of these things. I have lived in it for over 35 years now, watching. And everyone is happy, happy, happy. You know the line – “what did you expect in the church. We are all imperfect people serving a perfect God.” Thus most all evil is legitimized and excused and anyone trying to expose the real state of affairs is a threat to the happiness spirit.

Evil thrives in the happy church. It flourishes. It preaches “forgiveness” at its victims (“we are all sinners, you know”) and minimizes and excuses the oppressors. It is Laodicea all over again:

Rev 3:17 For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.

Do not expect justice from the happy church. You won’t get it. Don’t expect the happy hour folks to interrupt their party with your case and hear you. And generally I advise – do not try to change the happy church. You will only bring misery upon yourself casting pearls before pork. Shake the dust off your shoes and move along. No real Jesus to see here. Keep moving. Perhaps the Lord Himself will intervene as He did at Corinth. Maybe some will be weak and sick. And maybe even a number of them will “sleep.” Maybe, just maybe, that will get their attention so that finally they say-

Isa 6:5 And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!”

Beware the “Happy” Church

1Co 11:28-30 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. (29) For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. (30) That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.

Heb 12:28-29 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, (29) for our God is a consuming fire.

The church that I have been the pastor of for the last 25 years used to be what appeared on the outside as “a happy place.” A happening music program, pretty full sanctuary, committees, “testimony time,” and so on. The people bragged on it. In reality however, as was soon apparent, what looked so “happy” on the outside was full of corruption on the inside. Sin. Lots of it. These “happy Christians” hated one another, sought personal fame in their “ministries,” had the freedom to be as foul-mouthed in their weekly lives as they wanted, and on and on it went.

When I began to confront the hypocrisy, or rather when God’s Word began to expose it, the fangs came out. I remember one “pillar” telling me “we have always been known to the community as the happy, family church. Now you have ruined it all!”

“Happy” churches are the friend of evil. “Happy” churches are the abuser’s ally. The main thing is that the main thing always remain the main thing. And what is the main thing? That everyone is happy, happy, happy. Don’t go talking about evil – nope. And don’t preach on the searing holiness of God – uhuh. That ruins the happy.

Recently I saw a church web page that I had some contact with and so I went over there to take a look. I go to the pastor’s page first of course. It tells a lot more than the so-called doctrinal statement (which can sound quite orthodox when in fact the truths stated there are in reality not believed). Here is the pastor’s favorite slogan:

I like to call our church the happy church. And we celebrate happy hour every Sunday morning.

Yep. You can’t make this stuff up.

Now, what do you suppose is going to happen in a happy church when an abuse victim steps forward and reveals that her husband, the head deacon in Happyville, has in fact been wickedly abusing her for decades? Let me tell you:

She will be seen as a threat to happy time. Admitting to the presence of evil in the pews is an unpleasant business. Facing up to the fact that the head deacon has duped everyone and is an emissary of the devil is just, well, grievous. It takes smiles off faces. Therefore, happiness must be maintained. The victim must be silenced. Her story is to be disregarded, and if she cannot jump back onto the happy wagon, she is going to have to take her story about evil and hit the road.

The Christian is a joyous person. Joy is a fruit of the Spirit. But joy is vastly different from the “happy” that this pastor is talking about. Joy rejoices and one of the things it rejoices over is justice. Christ’s people hunger and thirst for righteousness. They grieve over evil and the Spirit within them yearns to expose it and deal with it as God does. Real joy is not in conflict with the confession that our God is to be approached with reverence and awe, because He is a consuming fire. Some of the Corinthians thought they could party on and turn the Lord’s table into happy hour. They thought wrongly. The Lord struck them. He struck some of them dead. How happy, happy, happy do you think the church was then? About as happy as when Ananias and Sapphira were struck down for lying to the Holy Spirit.

Act 5:11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things.

The happy church is no friend of Christ. It is no friend of the oppressed. It IS a friend of the wicked. Have no part in it. It is not the body of Christ.