I recently and regrettably entered into a Facebook thread that I wish I would have never even seen. It was impossible for me to miss. I pulled up Facebook on my computer and it was literally the first post my eyes connected with. I think God wanted me to see it. It disturbed me all day. It reminded me of something that is terribly wrong with our Christianity. I have, in the past, been guilty of it and I think that’s why I am so bothered by it. When I was guilty of it, I was younger, and arrogant, and pretty quick to be critical and I lacked compassion. Let me share a part of what I first read when I set my eyes upon Facebook. It was posted by a Pastor and members of his church followed his lead. Throughout this blog post, anything “blocked in” is an exact quote from the Facebook thread I am referring to.
“I have observed over the years concerning ministry leadership. Accountability is a great thing. The truth is not everyone wants to be accountable to someone. Men do not like to be governed. But I believe if pastors were more accountable to other pastors it would prevent a lot of ungodly behavior and harness the rebellious, independent and selfish inconsiderate attitudes that seems prevalent today. Accountability would mean that you allow someone into your life to question you, to give you wisdom. You give them permission to speak into your life. You cant correct someone you don’t have a relationship with.”
What is written above, in my opinion, is very accurate and right on. Accountability is a great thing. Everybody needs accountability. If the post would have stopped with just what is written above, I would have enjoyed the post and been challenged by it. I would have been encouraged by it. It would have caused me to double check where my checks and balances are and what health they are in. But the author of the post didn’t stop there. The paragraph below is the finishing touch the author chose to express. It is his finishing touches that have inspired this blog post.
“These men cower from true friendships because they want to do it all on their own. They want to be the entrepreneur. They want to say “I did it my way.” Or worse, they are hiding their private sin. If you do try to correct them, they will call you religious, a zealot, a Pharisee. You can’t win with certain people. They don’t want to submit. They don’t want to be accountable to you….they want to be superior. They want to hide the secrets of their hearts.”
The author of the paragraph above is a Christian Pastor. He is publicly writing about Christian Pastors and Christian Ministry Leaders. The second half of the author’s post is highly critical, judgmental and an irresponsible action due to the very nature it is posted for the whole world to read. I completely understand that there seems to be an epidemic level of Pastors having moral failures in our culture today. I am in full favor of accountability. I am not disturbed by the fact that the author of this Facebook thread I reference is screaming that we need more accountability. I’m disturbed, deeply by the fact that the Facebook post I quote above is something that I would fully expect to originate from a secular author, a critical atheist, or at least from Kathy Griffin. If it were written from any of them, it would have been expected, but for this to be posted by a fellow Christian and Pastor is only what I could call Christian Cannibalism at its best. It is said that Christians seem to be the only ones who shoot their own wounded. Why is it that so many Christians are so nasty with other Christians? Why do we bicker about things in such a public fashion. When this happens we only hurt our own cause for Jesus Christ.
The Facebook thread, I refer to, was inspired by the actions of a pastor who was caught in sin and it hit the headlines in the local newspaper. The news of another failure brought the cannibals out for a fresh bite of fallen Christian flesh.
Sin is appalling, by no means does my post make light of any kind of sin. I give no excuses for sin. My post is about the sin being committed by a group of people who are publicly condemning a fellow Christian for his own sin. It is no surprise to anybody that everybody has sinned and falls short of God’s holy standard. The Bible confirms this in Romans 3:23. However, what is actually more appalling to me is public judgement and shaming of Christians by fellow Christians. Please don’t misunderstand me, I am very familiar with the passages in 1 Corinthians 5 about being commanded by Paul to judge one another as Christians. What is disturbing to me is doing it before the eyes and ears of the unchurched on Facebook. Paul actually warns of such cannibalistic behavior in 1 Corinthians 6:1
“If any of you has a dispute with another, dare he take it before the ungodly for judgment instead of before the saints?
The passage above is technically referring to lawsuits, however, the principle of the matter is the same. I think that Paul is saying, “air out your dirty laundry privately, please don’t do so in front of unbelievers.” To take it even further, Jesus commands us in Matthew 18:15 to personally/privately confront a person who has offended us. Jesus said that if the offender doesn’t listen, then take two or three others with you, if the offender still doesn’t respond then go with the elders of the church. If there is still no change, after the privately grouped confrontation meeting, then Jesus says to treat the person like a pagan or a corrupt tax collector. By the way…HOW DID JESUS TREAT PAGANS AND CORRUPT TAX COLLECTORS?
The Facebook post written by Christians that took a fallen Christian leader and rubbed his face in the mud publicly, is simply what is called Christian Cannibalism. It is epidemic amongst Christians and if Jesus is to ever use us effectively, we must stop this disgusting eating habit.
As I, regrettably, tried to squelch the cannibals from continuing their public feast, I found myself the target of their starvation. The group didn’t know who I was, but the Pastor did. The group accused me of not living in the real world. They said, without knowing who I was, “that I didn’t have clue and obviously had never been hurt by a Christian leader before, and that if I had, I would be in full agreement with them. They said, I “lived in a different world than they did.” My gut hurt from that response, because I have partaken, erroneously, in christian cannibalistic feasts back in my stupid days. I am glad that my heart hurt as a result of this Facebook thread, because it verified that I have grown in my lacking areas of compassion and wisdom, and it hurt me to see this group repeating mistakes that I wish I had never made. One lady typed into the Facebook thread…
Too many people have left church because of corrupt leaders! Thank God there are still godly ones!
Again…I do not question the truth of her Facebook comment. It just chills me to imagine what unbelieving bystander might be reading the cannibalistic frenzy, and what they might be thinking about how Christians behave and treat one another…especially the wounded and fallen. The world knows that Christianity has dirty laundry, and it doesn’t help anyone, when the Christians want to hang that dirty laundry in everybody’s front yard, and then yell at each other from their front porches while their unbelieving neighbors watch. Its a freak reality TV show, just minus the TV. The lady’s who I quoted above about too many leaving because of corrupt leaders, seems alarmingly blind to the dangers of her own behavior and its effect on people who are checking out the church. The pot seems to be calling the kettle black.
What is shocking to me, and curiously has me asking a question of the lady of the last quote, is, “how does she know her pastor is one of the “godly ones.” Didn’t the congregation of the fallen pastor, believe he was “one of the godly ones,” before he got caught in his sin?
Its a whole other blog post for another time, but the members of the Church have struggled with loyalty to people and pastors way too often instead of keeping their loyalty and followership on Jesus. He’s the only who can really be declared, “Godly One.” The rest of us…well, not so godly.
When I asked the group to be more kind to the fallen Christian leader, I mentioned that it seemed fair that Christian leaders have a special target on their backs that the devil loves to shoot at. Christian Pastors are high on the devil’s hit list. I typed, that it made sense, to pray for our Christian leaders, especially the fallen ones, and not publicly attack them. That only seemed to fire up the Christian mob even more, one lady gripped her fork and knife and licked her lips for another bloody bite and replied…
oh yes! blame it on the devil… boo hooo hooo! the devil made me do it!
There was no good in the Facebook thread I was engaged in. I immediately went to each post I had typed and removed myself from the thread.
I don’t have some creative line to end this post. I’m saddened by it all. The older I get the more I recognize that we all need Jesus stronger and stronger living inside of us. God never intended the world to be this way, and God commanded his followers to never behave this way.
If I were the devil, I would be targeting the Pastor who started this Facebook thread and who also has a very diligent and passionate and “hungry” following. If I could get this pastor to screw up too, then all his followers will be so heart sick that I would win some huge battles in striving to pull people from Jesus.
We must stop following people, and simply appreciate each others gifts within the body of Christ. I have personally experienced what happens when a large group of people put their faith and hope in me as a pastor and then the instant I am gone from the scene, it all falls apart. The solution for every Christian is to keep our eyes on Jesus. He is our Lead Pastor!
Most of all…what must stop…is the cannibalistic behavior amongst us as Christians. Jesus warns us about not being able to get into the Kingdom of Heaven if we have hate towards our Christian brothers and sisters. The public bashing of each other must stop. We must handle ourselves like Jesus commands in Matthew 18:15. We must forgive one another and carry one another’s burdens.
Jesus also commands us to treat others like we would like to be treated. If I blew my credibility because of sin, I sure would hope that people would not publicly bash me on Facebook. Would I deserve it? Yes. But does that make it right? No. I would hope that my Christian brothers and sisters would surround me and privately kick my butt and at the same time love and restore me in whatever amount of time it would take.
As Christians we must stop the cannibalism. We must stop shooting our wounded. The Bible says, that we will be known by our love.
Since I’ve been quoting the great Apostle Paul throughout this post, it is fitting to finish with one more of his writings. Its Colossians 3:16-17, “16Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. 17And whatever you do or say, (or type in Facebook threads), do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.”
I love you, and I commit to do my very best to always demonstrate my love for you.
Be patient with me as I continue to get better at doing it.
I will work on being patient with you.