Too Late for Lame Excuses
by Patricia Backora
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When WILL My people ever learn to love one another as Christ loves them, unconditionally and with purity of heart? Your love for unbelievers and apostate rebels against My Word cannot be unconditional, but you are not to reject one another unless people turn into unrepentant heretics (Titus 3:10).
Differences in life style which have no bearing on right and wrong are to be tolerated, instead of being a basis for shunning and ridiculing one another. There is no law in My Word against a man wearing a pink shirt, or even a beard (Jesus had one). There is no law in either Testament against a woman wearing large floral prints or open-toed sandals. So long as basic standards of decency aren’t violated and people don’t seek to excite each other’s passions by their clothing, or lack of it, you must not reject someone else for dressing in a way that doesn’t mirror your own taste in fashion.
As for jewelry, that’s strictly between Me and the Christian believer. As in all areas of life, MOTIVATION is everything. If the believer wears an expensive gold watch to proudly display his/her personal wealth, that’s a sin of pride. If a woman deliberately attracts attention to herself by loading herself with expensive jewels, there’s something wrong in her heart, though in and of itself, jewelry is NOT a sin.
Alcoholic beverages is another gray area, and context is important. If you live in a culture or area where drunkenness causes a lot of bad social problems, it’s inconsiderate of you to drink in full view of others. If you, as a responsible adult, have a bit of wine to settle your stomach, there’s nothing wrong with that (I Tim.5:23). Drunkenness is always wrong. But there is no blanket prohibition on wine and strong drink in scripture. To forbid a qualified man from becoming an elder because church spies caught him in a restaurant toasting his wife on their wedding anniversary, that’s legalism and adding your own rules to My Word, which is ALWAYS sinful.
How My people love to reject one another over trivial matters, just like the Pharisees rejected everyone who wasn’t exactly like themselves. And now wealth, or the lack of it, is being used as the main determining factor for whether or not someone really follows Christ! Nothing divides My people and breaks up more friendships than changes in financial circumstances. I have seen more than one close friendship wither away because one Christian stayed poor while the other one struck it rich and moved up into “higher social circles”. Conveniently forgotten are all the good times the friends had together, and the precious times the Christian friends supported each other through times of heartache and stress, sharing whatever they had with each other and praying wholeheartedly for one another.
Money is a cruel mistress. One of the most awkward situations arises when a beloved Christian brother suddenly becomes the BOSS of his former friend. The heady feeling of self-importance is stronger than any wine. It dulls the tender compassion of the Spirit within and ministers pride. Christ is shoved to the background as money takes first place in the “prosperous” believer’s life.
A certain man was a baby Christian. He genuinely wanted to learn all he could about the Christian life. This man longed to see the Life of Christ expressed lovingly through all the members of the local church body. He began to work with a gang of fellow believers painting houses. The brother who ran this painting company ended up cheating all his brethren of their wages, leaving them almost nothing to buy food or gas with. The brother who ran the company enjoyed the finest of foods, kept his house well-furnished and warm, and made sure HE was taken care of before tossing a few crumbs to his slaves.
The new convert was enraged and hurt that such a thing could go on among Christian brethren. Not only that, his “Christian” landlord wasn’t very nice either to him or his young wife. The man saw many other inconsistencies happen among Christians who swore that they would die for Jesus, although it never occurred to these dumb sheep they had to actually LIVE for Him as well, and PROVE their love for Jesus by how they treat their own brethren.
One Christian woman got badly hurt by a fellow “Christian” believer who professed to be a friend but never had a kind word to say about her. The apostate believer did everything she could to tear down the other woman’s self-esteem. After it all came to a head, there was a half-hearted apology. But the damage was done and the wounded woman could never again find it easy to trust anyone just because they claimed to be a Christian.
Hypocrites and phony believers come in all ages, shapes and sizes. I have even seen “Christian” church-going children bully and hurt others in school. Or, at the very least, they’d give their passive support to bullies by refusing to even speak to the designated victim of the group. How it sickens Me, to hear little boys and girls sing that they would go to far-off Africa or wherever to die for Me, but they treat their own neighbors like trash just to stay popular with unconverted kids! I nearly lost certain Christian converts because of the crass hypocrisy of people who live one way at church and another way outside the four walls of the sanctuary.
Many have sworn off “church” altogether because of how bad they got hurt in situations like these. It’s easy to be a good sport about somebody else’s sufferings when it wasn’t you who had to do the actual suffering. It’s easy to say that such hurt people ought to forgive and “just go on”. But what you do speaks far louder than what you say in church. Whenever the offenders think they’re too good to apologize to someone they’ve hurt, there can be no real reconciliation between them.
A lame, half-hearted “I’m sorry” just won’t cut it when the damage is done and somebody turns their back on Jesus because of the rotten way you treated them as a Christian. Chances are, if people “quit church” and drift away from Me because they were wounded by religious people, they won’t be back, or their way home will be a painful one.
I’m going to take a stick to any sheep who head-butts a fellow believer over the Cliff of Destruction. I had enough of cruel hypocrites when I walked the earth as a Man in Galilee, and now I must suffer through that all over again as I try to console wounded, rejected sheep wandering all alone in the wilderness, driven out by the wicked conduct of fellow believers who don’t really follow Me.
Woe unto those trees that promise good fruit but bear bad figs and poison those who partake of them! Better if such a reprobate had never come to the knowledge of the truth than that he/she should be guilty of causing one of My own precious lambs to wander away from Me and finally perish!
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