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By Val Lee
This book reflects my heart. It reflects my concern for those who are deemed socially unacceptable due to the sinful acceptability requirements set by men. I yearn for people to see the foolishness of it all. I want those who feel unloved to comprehend that they are uniquely and wonderfully made by the Creator who cherishes them and never fails. May the LORD place this book in the hands of everyone who needs healing love amidst rejecting pain.
I am thankful this book has ministered to ladies as revealed by reviews:
“I WAS HURTING, I DON’T UNDERSTAND HOW PEOPLE WHO CLAIM TO BE BLOOD BOUGHT , BORN AGAIN, CHILDREN OF GOD, THINK, ACT, AND FEEL THEY ARE BETTER THAN SISTERS OR BROTHERS IN CHRIST, SADLY THIS IS TRUE. I BELIEVE ONLY GOD CAN CHANGE THESE PEOPLE. HUMANS CAN NOT CHANGE PEOPLE. ONE MORNING FEELING PRETTY DEFEATED, I ASKED THE LORD TO SHOW ME SOMETHING. A LADY SAT BESIDE ME ONE MORNING, I SHARED SOME WORDS AND SHE PICKED UP ON MY JOURNEY, AND GAVE ME THIS BOOK “CLIQUES IN THE CHURCH” I COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN. IT MINISTERED TO MY HEART. THIS BOOK IS WONDERFUL. IT HELPS YOU TO HEAL, KNOW THAT YOUR NOT CRAZY, THERE ARE OTHERS OUT THERE IN NEED OF HELP, THAT PEOPLE HAVE THE PUFFED UP PRIDE TO BE SO UNKIND. MAYBE THEY’RE BLIND. THE BOOK WILL STRENGTHEN YOU. THIS BOOK WILL VALIDATE YOUR NOT ALONE.”
“…offers comfort and confidence to those who have been hurt by this phenomenon. She effectively shows that this destructive behavior arises from the lack of understanding and application of God’s Inerrant Word, and that those who look to Christ in faith can live triumphantly victorious lives that are beacons of light to others who are struggling. I really enjoyed this book, and hope that many others will be blessed by it.”
Dedicated to those who hurt ♥
History of Cliques
Identifying Church Cliques
Identifying Sunday School Cliques
Identifying Teen Cliques
Identifying Committees with Cliques
Identifying Business Cliques
There Must Be Something Wrong With Me
Job, the Social Reject
The Diotrephes Mind-set
An Unnatural Love
The Situation in Corinth
Games of Usury
The Unacceptable One
Cliques Bring Bondage
A Lack of Joy and Respect
The Discontented Clique Member
All Inclusive But Partial “Grace Mode”
Our Response to the Less Fortunate
How Do I Keep From Being Associated With A Clique?
Socialization of the church
When and Why Churches Changed
Evangelism Is For Reaching Out To All
Responsibility and Respect
I have been burdened to write a book that exposes the sin of active and visible partiality in the church. I am referring to members of congregations choosing to love certain people that they find compatible and who beget the focused attention they desire through association. I spoke with a man who solemnly revealed the only thing that distressed him about the church he attended was the fact he could only mingle within a certain group of persons and he could not associate with others within the congregation. This was the directive imposed upon him by those who introduced him to the church.
The Bible reveals we are one in Christ. This does not mean we are many separate entities who can pick and chose our associations according to our personal desires and mindsets. We are to view the entire body of Christ as our family. We are brothers and sisters in Christ. We don’t love some sisters and brothers and ignore others. When we become Christians, we receive a love that is created to cherish others unconditionally. It does not come from our sinful flesh; it arises from the Holy Spirit who empowers us to obey God and His Word. Part of becoming a believer is shedding the old sinful being and putting on the new man. The old man is full of sin reflected in self-centered desires. This deceitful man desires those things that tickle his ego. He is naturally attracted to individuals with charismatic outgoing personalities, encompassed with a lovely appearance, and whom others fancy.
We witness this nature of mankind uncovered in James chapter 2. In a typical church we can witness this passage relived by envisioning two men approaching the entry area. One is unwashed and donned in unkempt garb, obviously a farmer of some sort. He is in overalls due to performing his morning chores and just made it in time for church. He may smell like he just sloshed the hogs and perhaps he did.
The other is obviously a gentleman, well-respected in the community as a wealthy businessman or even politician. He is wearing State of the Art Cologne for Prestigious Men and attired in a three piece, silk-tailored suit. He is very attractive and is accompanied by a beautiful wife and two happy children in their Sunday finest. Different people approach this externally attractive family as they now begin to approach the auditorium. Many want to shake hands and let them know they are sure pleased they chose to visit their church. The couple is introduced to the pastor, informed of the week’s activities, handed coffee, etc. They are even invited to sit at the front of the church with one of the elders.
The farmer is left to fend for himself. No one shakes his hand; no one even desires to sit on the same pew with him! Several turn up their noses as he passes. What kind of church is this? Actually, it is a church that can represent many churches in general. Many more than we’d like to admit.
God condemns these actions and alerts us in this passage to the evil motives that exist when we love the rich above the poor and dirty. James 2:4 exposes us as evil judges if we engage in such behavior! Today one does not have to look far to find an unfair judge, but they should not be in our churches. God emphatically states, we are not to have self-centered desires as the Lord chose the poor of this world to be rich in faith. They are so special in the eyes of God that He selected them to be rich in faith and heirs to His kingdom through their reliance on Him; James 2:5. God condemns the gold seekers in this passage for their ungodliness in using others for personal gain.
The main reason, I believe cliques are instigated is low self-esteem which desires to be empowered. If people, even Christians, can believe they are better than others by association, they build a false security blanket of warmth which helps eliminate feelings of inferiority. Also by ignoring those outside their social group, they can manipulate and control the feelings of others which enables them to ascend above others; thus enabling them to reduce inadequate personal social feelings or so they believe.
One can feel if they travel in a group, they will be more noticed and envied. Since only certain types of people are accepted, a person can believe he or she is walking in a place of elevation especially since the majority of people, who attempt to join, are rejected and sometimes even mocked or scorned by the clique. However, if a person owns a prominent position in the church it can sometimes assure acceptance into a group.
I personally do not believe true acceptance is gained this way. People who try to attempt social prestige are always residing on the exterior of God’s will therefore they never truly experience the joy-filled life. Only those who follow obedience in all areas of their being take part in His holy communion of fellowship.
History of Cliques:
I believe cliques have always been, that is why the Bible so strictly addresses the area of love for others. Sinful flesh has always wanted to boost itself up by believing through association, prominence can be achieved.
I also believe America paved the way for cliques. If you study historical newspapers and writings of previous centuries and even the early twentieth century, you will read the words “well-bred” frequently. In historical society pages, you will readily read how our well-bred social elite engaged in this activity or that. People walked in great pride if they were referred to socially, as the well-bred of society through their cultural achievements. They truly felt if they had money, position, manners, attractiveness, belonged to prominent organizations and on and on, they came from good stock. Inadequately bred-society generally consisted of those who stemmed from middle class to poor.
Often times, society’s pomp and circumstance kept the poor from accepting anything in the way of handouts or charity. They would rather starve than give the wealthy something else to boast about.
Certain churches consisted only of the upper classes of society; and if unacceptable persons visited, they were spitefully rejected to the point of no return.
Being well-bred was important in the slave trade as well. People were looking for those who were of good stock. Slaves possessed no rights and were viewed as livestock. They even had to mate with whom they were told. The large and strong men were bred with the large and strong women, which produced great specimens in the mind’s eye. This also propagated social prestige in the south. Wealthy plantation owners felt prestigious if their slaves were envied above those of other farms and ranches.
Today, we have withdrawn the term well-bred, but we are still the sorry sinners our predecessors were. We still selfishly want to be admired and adored. Associating with the poor and crippled just doesn’t make one feel prominent and powerful.
Identifying Church Cliques:
A clique can be identified quickly and easily. They generally clump together, often times filling a pew with just their friends and acting snobbish to anyone who would dare sit beside them who is not on socially acceptable terms with them. They can also be located grouping together and conversing in the narthex. Your mind may click into a memory of your high school where the top ten teens would cluster together to be noticed by all.
These collected groups are basically made up of snobbish, clubbable socialites who act superior to others. Their qualifications for clique acceptance vary according to leaders and preferences. But one rule most always applies; you have to snub the believers other members of the clique snub, which sometimes means shunning your own friends. Jealousy for a comrade’s attention is often the ulterior motive. Sharing friends outside the club is not part of the game.
These congregational members do not greet first time attendees and act oblivious to anyone who is not socially accepted into their collective group. They always act superior to other members of the church and will never return greetings to those they view as lowlife. They pretend they do not see or hear them if they do not meet their ridiculous and unbiblical standards for acceptance.
The Word clique in dictionary terms means a narrow exclusive circle or group of persons; esp: one held together by presumed identity of interests, views or purposes syn see SET.
Offensive can be another denotation associated with the above term. It visibly offends members of a close knit coterie when people use this expression in reference to them, knowing their agenda is unbiblical and divergent to God’s Word. They would much rather be regarded as a group of friends. To be identified as a clique, makes them squirm in agitation.
Pastors generally are not keen on identifying cliques as being cliques either, especially when they are in their church. It looks bad! Pastors will generally use a nice term for them. But it’s like calling a dog a cat, as everyone recognizes exactly what it is. Believers can go away laughing in their minds when a pastor sidesteps the term as they recognize he is just walking in preferred denial. I have personally witnessed this setting and believers in the congregation get sorely disappointed in the leadership’s ability to be mature in all matters.
Frequently pastors respond in denial due to the fact they are the cliques’ comrade in defense. It isn’t unusual for a clique to invite their pastor or an assistant pastor to their planned activities. It enables the pastor to feel socially acceptable which results in him always upholding them when opponents complain of their behavior. It isn’t unusual to find members of cliques in key positions either. They are quite enabled to make a pastor feel he is a part of the gang which obligates him to return favors which promotes them to positions of noticed grandeur. Even some pastors enjoy humming, “I’m in with the in crowd.”
It is a sad thing when even leadership will not identify cliques. Believers must not let this chosen deception impede on their vision of truth so they never turn their back on the shunned hurting ones in their fellowship.
Identifying Sunday School Cliques:
I once expressed to a Sunday school teacher how I believed a couple left the class due to the lack of welcome shown to them by others, specifically those who belonged to the class clique. The teacher’s response was, “Well they were too old for our class anyway.” This certainly revealed the inner workings of this man’s heart.
As we become familiar with the antics of cliques, we are able to discern which believers are walking in a lack of love for others. Sometimes this can be more aptly witnessed in a Sunday school setting where people are more prone to let down their hair.
At this same church and in the same class, a couple sat down at a table where a clique always resided. Upon the couple seating themselves, the clique removed itself, explaining there wasn’t enough room now for all their friends. This couple felt completely slighted being left to sit alone. As a result, they terminated their attendance.
In any Sunday school class situation, believers need to be distinctively praying for those in leadership on a continual basis. If you do detect a partiality problem, pray specifically for the Word of Truth to penetrate hearts. Also pray for opportunities to speak out concerning the situation, but always in love. If you don’t view any change or softening of hearts, following a span of prayer, you should speak to the pastor or pastoral staff. If they are uncaring and institute no action themselves, continue to pray and if you feel the Spirit leading you away, seek another class or a place of ministry elsewhere in the church. Also be open to changing churches. There are churches that will not accept or elevate this manipulative behavior.
One thing that has become an in thing in our churches is Sunday school affinity groups for adults. These groups can be created as leadership sees a sincere need to minister to one particular age group, specific marital status situations, or a need to exhort on special interest topics, etc. These are not always base and people can be ministered to through such groups. Nonetheless, when people attend a group that is for a specific situation, and they are cruelly made to feel unwelcome as unqualified due to their age, marital status, and so on, the class is lacking in unconditional love. I have personally seen people in a class not reaching out to certain ones because they deemed them as unqualified for that affinity grouping. We can’t be casting people aside because we see them as undesirable to a certain situation or topic of enclosure. We cannot lose one scriptural focus of the Church that of loving one another or we will be abiding in empty body-life.
Identifying Teen Cliques:
If you have adult cliques in your church, you can be assured you have teen cliques also. If mature adults can engage in this pursuit, then teens can justify it easily. They follow the examples set by adult believers!
The scenario is the same. Teens snubbing other teens, believing they are more attractive and prestigious than others who are unable to appear beautiful, rich, and owning an outgoing confidence. It is sad as it acts as a virus maligning and killing the hearts of our young people and this attitude can be carried into their adult lives.
The majority of teens attend public schools where snobbishness reigns. They must be reeducated in the ways of our loving Lord. To reach the lost in their schools, they must posses the fruits of the spirit, which enables them to reach out to all in genuine charity and concern. A snobbish Christian teen does little for the cause of Christ.
When teens shun other teens, they have little concept of God’s omnipotence as well as his omnipresence. They walk in little faith concerning what God is doing and can do in other people’s lives as well as their own. Teens, as well as adults, can believe God limits His love to only those who are socially acceptable, those possessing intelligence and beauty. This is a sad false reality in insecure teens. Most teens struggle with acceptance which produces insecurity that leads to coteries as these build a facade of self-assurance.
When I counsel hurting teens on low self-esteem, I direct them to Psalm 139. The passage reveals the omnipresence of God in everyone’s life. It proclaims He’s unique work in every teenager’s life and their planned distinctiveness. They are not a mistake! Every youth is uniquely formed by the Creator for His purposes of good and not evil. If you turn to Psalm 139, in your Bibles, you will personally witness how you can encourage teenagers through this Psalm. It proclaims how God has searched us and knows us personally. He identifies when we sit down and arise. All our thoughts are comprehended from afar and He is intimately acquainted with all our ways! What we speak is known by Him before we state anything, adhering to the fact, He is omniscient or all knowing. He encloses us behind and before, being His hand is upon us. From the beginning of our lives, the Lord was in control, forming our inward parts while we occupied our mother’s womb. Skillfully, He wove us together witnessing our unformed substance and He has predetermined our lifespan.
After contemplating this passage, you can perceive how a teenager who is led to these verses can learn to rest on these truths and see beyond the rejection of sinful believers who put them down or ignore their existence. You can perceive that the right medicine can eventually produce remediation in a rejected teen, if they are nurtured into living a Spirit-filled life and are directed to rest on the promises of God.
You can also implement these verses in dealing with a clique-teen-member to expose them to the truth that they have no reason to hold to an uppity status as God formed everyone uniquely even the ones they dub as worthless as they pass by them in an oblivious manner.
Teen leaders need to stress this unique and unconditional love for youth found throughout God’s Word and apply it personally, as I have witnessed teen pastors and workers being partial to those teens they choose to attach themselves to. Unfortunately, the carnal minister dotes on those teens that are beautiful and reveal leadership qualities. This can break rejected teen hearts thus turning them away from God and the church.
Remember we will all give account of our actions before God someday. We want to be pure and spotless in our love for all.
Identifying Committees with Cliques:
I have heard it said, “I don’t want to be on a committee with him or her because they are cliquish.” Some will even leave committees because a member or members of a clique join, and they don’t want to deal with the partiality they know will arise from past experiences.
Pastors need to be aware of this also. It is very important to have committees free of coterie members. People will function better together if they see themselves as one in Christ. It may be easy for a pastor to think, “Well, no one else will volunteer.” However, if he compromises and chooses one who is not above reproach and has a reputation for being cliquish, he will pay in the end.
Many good people will not volunteer for committees because they don’t want to take part in that which turns their stomach. The one who joins a committee, who is of a clubbable mindset, will always be partial to his friends’ opinions and desires. Therefore, what is stated in the Word usually receives second billing. A coterie member will also let it be known, that they don’t respect those on a committee who don’t add up to their social acceptability standards. Who wants to serve on a committee where cruelty prevails?
This cruelty intensifies when a member of a coterie will join a committee with the intention of removing the undesirables from the committee and replacing them with the members of his or her group. Sometimes they succeed. They at times, will even lie, make up stories, or exaggerate to make the undesirables look unworthy. Why? So they can convince a pastor or overseer that they must be removed or replaced. I have seen it practiced to my sorrow.
The Bible addresses the importance of having a good reputation for all leadership positions. In Acts chapter 6, a committee had to be formed of seven members to oversee the serving of widows. The Bible discloses that these men had to be of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and of wisdom. How many leaders pay attention to this passage when choosing a committee member? Not many. If we would begin to heed the Word more, we would have committees filled with above reproach members who possess an obvious concern for all in the congregation and much pain would be alleviated.
Identifying Business Cliques:
Yes, there is such a thing. Remember how Christ drove the merchants out of the temple as their motives for being there was for material gain and not to worship and praise the Lord. You can find this account in Mark chapter 11, verse 16, where it exposes how Christ was not allowing anyone to carry goods through the temple for their sale. When we come to worship, we are to have no desires in our heart for those things that represent worldliness and personal gain. We come to focus on God and God alone. It is wrong to view fellow believers as those with dollar signs on their backs ready for picking. I do not believe God desires congregational members to market their products within the church! It is sinful and self-centered. People will often just join a church to promote their goods and services. Marketers even teach people to join churches so they can obtain a prodigious clientele. These people usually own zero spiritual commitment.
Now there are true believers who promote their business within the church. More often than not, they are a pyramid business, which always seems to be the craze. Some parishioners will even purchase a business membership just to be socially clubbable. They don’t care is it is business-centered as long as they can be a part of something. It doesn’t even matter if they are losing money as long as they feel accepted by some people. Business coteries can be alluring. Basically, the only requirement is to be a company promoter.
Smart promoters will target leadership first, them being the most respected people in the church. If they can recruit believers who are admired as godly, they are on their way to financial success. People follow leaders. Recruiting leaders is often how business cliques begin to flourish. People will buy from people they view as honest and dependable.
I knew a pastor’s wife who owned her own business and from which she promoted an exclusive women’s item. It was the in thing to buy, her being the pastor’s wife, though it was very costly. Women who could afford to buy this item appeared to be better than others who could not. Ladies freely boasted and showed off their purchases. This clique was fashionable, being mainly made up of church leaders. But like anything else the purchased item became just a passing craze and the elitism that accompanied it.
Many women will act improperly, just in hopes of becoming a member of a leadership clique. Women must learn to shun inner insecurities that would cause them to sin. Being a part of any clique is sin. Our security must be found in Christ alone.
Believers are not unspiritual if they chose not to buy goods sold by the pastor, his wife, deacons, or anyone in leadership. Unfortunately, to be associated with certain groups at some churches, one has to become a business partner. Don’t allow enterprising cliques to control and manipulate you. Popularity is not a part of godliness and holiness. We come to church to learn to be Christ-like, not how to engage in business to increase our pocketbook. This is spiritual sickness at its worse. This is a desecration of the people of God.
I have a friend who was extremely desecrated by a promoter who still pursues her. This person is a former deacon and he is stocking this friend of mine who resides in Colorado. He attended her previous church. He flaunted his business in the church and she chose to be accommodating. She was caught unawares not knowing he functioned as a Judas, pilfering from the church’s funds and had many other sins consuming his life.
She now does not believe he was ever cleansed by the blood of the Lamb. He most likely became a member for greater clientele exposure, thus to broaden his financial gain, donning himself in a Christian facade. He has plans to rob and rape her. She has put an alarm system in her home and walks in all precaution. There are people in her former church who still stand beside this man and seem to revel in his evil ways.
I plead with you, please be very wise and ever so careful with anyone who claims to be a believer yet flaunts their trade before you. Even when dealing with believers, references and credentials must be verified.
There Must Be Something Wrong With Me:
This well-worn phrase is much repeated when it comes to cliques. People, especially women, can be deeply hurt when members of a clique shun, ignore and direct despise toward them. They emphatically believe there is something undeserving in them to cause these people to act unbecomingly toward them. These wounded believers don’t generally approach Church leadership when mistreated but blame themselves. This can especially be true when church leadership takes part in this harassment.
When I hear women express self-blame for rejection, I just can’t believe my distressed ears. These women are generally godly and serving the Lord. They are also very humble and caring. I know Satan uses cliques to reduce women to a lower plane of self-image so they become less effective for God’s kingdom. Some of these slighted women withdraw from ministries as a result of suddenly feeling unworthy. How sad and disheartening to the entire body of Christ. Believers end up slipping away through the cracks and it always seems to escape the eyes of leadership or is just passed by.
Those who treat people contemptuously are without excuse. If you personally witness this disgusting snobbish activity, stand up for the person or persons. Call the clique on it. If no one says anything, the clique will feel justified in its antics. No one deserves doggish treatment! You cannot believe another person is deserving of shunning misconduct on the basis of social unacceptability!
Cliques do not enjoy on-fire churches. They relish in turning the thermostat to low because they delight in lukewarmness, that which changes the church climate to meet their spiritual deficiencies. Plus, it is the lukewarm church attendees that they most often recruit so they need that low-temperature comfort zone generating throughout the church.
I believe Satan resourcefully puts cliquish people in on-fire churches to diminish the work of service and acts of love. Attendance usually drops dramatically when a clique becomes visible and people injured. Some people abandon the organized church altogether, fearful of being pained again.
You can recognize this lukewarmness easily as a coterie group will generally sit through church talking or passing notes. They usually reveal little interest in Biblical teaching. They can be very rude. I have heard complaints such as, “They talked all through the discourse and I couldn’t hear a thing.”
Often times they don’t even open their Bibles or bring them to church. … Why bother; they will spend the whole lesson time talking to their friends or passing notes. These lukewarm believers and false brethren attend church for reasons other than spiritual growth. These lax and inattentive actions can send a message to other believers that the Word of God just isn’t that impressive and doesn’t relate to today’s world.
Years ago, at a church in Portland, Oregon, I recall a clique sitting together during an evening service. They had a diminutive radio which they passed to one another so none would miss the highlights of a ballgame. They were even making verbal comments concerning the exciting moments of the game. Can you imagine the response of the apostle Paul if he could have been present or any of the apostles? It would certainly have been addressed in a spirit of correction and reproof. Yet today, as we experience the apostasy, we witness a great negligence and disrespect toward God’s holy and sacred Word. We also witness little being addressed in the area of manners and politeness in most churches.
I do believe this is where spirit-filled believers must speak out in boldness and address those who are not attentive. Sometimes adults must be addressed as children would be confronted. Most people will just complain about a situation, but not bring forth a solution. If several believers will verbally ask a clique to be silent, the members are usually humiliated into compliance. If they don’t comply, approach the church leadership and ask for solutions.
Don’t blame the leadership if they have no knowledge of a troubling situation. It is very hard for pastors to keep an eye on every fire that arises in a church. Oftentimes leadership can be very surprised to hear of something that may be happening directly under their noses. This is because the church as whole can keep pastors preoccupied as so many disturbing situations are brought before leadership.
Arrogance is certainly another appropriate synonym for cliquish behavior. Though you will rarely hear a message on arrogance, it is a disgusting air that makes our stomachs churn. In Malachi chapter 4, verse 1, God is adamant about arrogance and reveals, “A day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff.” We see God promises to set these people ablaze for their haughtiness. Also notice in chapter 3, verse 15, where people were calling the arrogant blessed. They believed being arrogant was styling and blessed of God. Through this verse we receive an education on the character of God, as He does not admire arrogance as general society does. We observe reality in this passage as no arrogant person will escape God’s wrath.
Arrogant people possess sharp tongues that are quick to ridicule others. They devour those they believe to be lesser individuals through an arrogant attitude, reducing them to believe they are of no redeeming use. The moment an unacceptable one states something an arrogant person finds stupid or unnecessary, they are on them with the force of an alligator’s bite. Many of the people that surround us walk in the deep pain left by the repetition of these bites. Our acceptance of these injured people can impart miraculous healing.
We all can be guilty of displaying this sin and must watch ourselves with the way we respond to those we find annoying at times. 1 Thessalonians 3:12 implores our love to be increasing and abounding for all men. If our love is expanding for everyone, then the outcome achieved is less and less arrogance displayed. It is not admirable for a person to believe they are better than others.
Humility and lowliness of mind are key attributes to the believer’s walk.
Acquiring self-deception is another consequence of not obeying God’s Word. The more people choose disobedience the more they lose spiritual discernment and godly wisdom. These are gifts from God which He bestows on His obedient children. Believers who are living in sin seem to have little or no spiritual discernment. At least this has been my personally observance. There are always major consequences to choosing error.
I have also heard the excuse, “You are just more spiritual than me,” for disobedience and chosen self-deception. I even heard this from a member of a pastoral staff. How blatantly silly! All believers are equipped to obey or disobey. If they want to be honest with others, they need to state, “I do not choose to be spiritual! I do not choose to obey God’s Holy Truth. Selfishness and self-centeredness through my own chosen deception are my true desires.”
If you have ever dealt with demon possession, you know how Satan hates the entire Bible and it being quoted when dealing in this realm; literally, Satan hates it being quoted in all realms unless it is for misinterpretation. He hates the Bible due to the fact that it is the only book filled with God’s Words alone. If we are Bible illiterate, he can try to deceive us just as he tried to deceive our Savior during His 40 day fast, which we uncover in Luke chapter 4. Jesus faithfully quoted accurately, related scripture which disarmed His adversary, Satan. Believers should never be Bible-illiterate though too often they seem to be. So many Christians would rather spend time in Christian books. They are forever quoting what this writer or that writer proclaimed in their penned work, but not the Author of the Book of books. I attempt to encourage believers to stay in the Word at least 90 percent of the time and deposit only 10 percent into other reading materials. This way a person knows the heart of God and can recognize false doctrine when it is presented in so-called Christian books. People can be very ignorant and believe if a Christian wrote it, then it must be truth. What an outrageous myth! I would encourage every believer to delve into God’s Word as they read this book for accuracy and discernment.
Job the Social Reject:
Yes, the godly man Job, found in the book of Job was the social reject of the hour. He did not possess one friend following his drop off the reputable scale. He fell painfully hard from his most lofty position.
He had held the title of being the “greatest of all the men of the East.” He was renowned as the foremost judge and counselor in his community.
He had been blessed with ten healthy children—seven sons and three daughters. Unfortunately, they all perished during a frightful windstorm that traveled across the wilderness. It struck the house where they were gathered, causing the collapse of the roof. Poor, poor Job!
But wait, that is not all that befell Job. He was a farmer/rancher and his plowing oxen were rustled. Many of his servants were pierced through by the sword held in the hands of these murderous renegades. Within this same timeframe, fire from heaven fell, consuming his sheep and killing more servants. It didn’t take long before most everything he owned was gone. All this bad news, including that of his children, arose within one hour.
Now, you would hope Job’s calamities would end here. Well, not so. He also lost his health and well-being. He was so ill he just wanted to die. Boils encompassed his entire body, which he scraped with broken pottery. His flesh held a crust of dirt and worms roamed throughout. No, not a pretty sight.
All this affected his appetite as you can well assume. He could not think of eating. Imaging food simply made him sicker. It was even difficult to swallow his spittle. Of course, we have all been there when we have had the flu … when our stomach churns at the sight of food … when every swallow hurts our sore and reddened throat, holding unwanted saliva.
Now, Job did have three dear friends. When they came to console him, they did not recognize him. This once lofty man was now a worm of a man—literally. They came and sat before him seven days and nights without speaking a word, as they were in great shock. They grieved with him in love and concern. This was no doubt, Job’s most calming period. Unfortunately, this did not last long. When all would expect them to say, “Poor Job” following their lengthy silence, they actually shot him with every verbal arrow possible. They held spiteful, accusing tongues. They wanted him to confess everything before them. They wanted every piece of juicy gossip. However, Job held no hidden sins or agendas. He was still the most righteous man on all the earth. All his trials were not evoked by hidden transgressions!
Much of the book of Job encompasses his friends’ cruel, false accusations. Job is not a book that displays sympathy; only the harsh human nature. No person truly loved Job or cared that he suffered in grief and physical pain.
Job was righteous and he feared God. He was so pure, he never gazed upon a virgin. He had eyes only for his wife. Now, I might inject here that Job’s wife didn’t want anything to do with him despite his unfailing faithfulness. She wanted him to “curse God and die.” Later, Job sadly revealed, she stayed away from him because he had bad breath. What a consoling and empathetic wife! She is not left as a godly example for us ladies.
Now, you might think such circumstances are a bit unusual. You are right! This was a trial allowed by God to test Job’s unfailing faith. God allowed Satan to buffet him on every side. Job did not fail God, but he grew in maturity. He even stated unashamedly, “Though He slay me, I will still hope in Him;” Job 13:15.
Through it all, Job came face to face with the fact he could never trust in friendships. Only God loved him in his total social decline. Remember, the LORD is the one who never leaves or forsakes.
God did restore Job to a place of respect in the end. Yes, a very happy ending, full of rejoicing!
I recommend this book for reading as it is God’s holy Word. I recommend it as a medicinal remedy for when you feel depressed, unloved and forsaken of men. I do not know any man or woman made of frail dust that will not benefit from its truths and insights.
The Diotrephes Mindset:
Quite the character is presented to us in 3rd John, though not unfamiliar to everyday life. His name is Diotrephes and he is an appealing man of social prominence. Strutting around like a peacock, he delights in being the most noticed and controlling person amongst the congregation. He is the determining factor for beliefs and leadership in this church. This man would not even allow the apostle John to have a voice in this fellowship! Diotrephes wanted no one to exert more preeminence than him for he was the church dictator.
A faltering aspect of Diotrephes’ personality was his cliquishness. He possessed a coterie and it seemed to encompass much of the church. However Gaius, whom the letter was written to, was not completely taken in by his charisma. That is why John wrote to Gaius about this grave situation. He knew Gaius had the authority to change things in order to permit humility to reign in leadership once again. I don’t know the total outcome of 3rd John, but knowing the power of God, I believe godly men dethroned Diotrephes from his power of influence. Men and women were released from this human chain he had welded together to form his clique of influence, resulting in believers refocusing their eyes on Christ.
This type of dictator still exists today in too many churches. You will find they even determine what one should follow or not follow when it comes to Biblical instruction. They view God’s holy and sacred Word as a book of their pick and choose, thus they pick and choose what you should believe or not believe. They even have appealing ways of interpreting God’s Word according to their mindset. This mindset involves the elevation of the dictator-pastor. He is quite apt at reading things into scripture or eliminating certain doctrines.
In time past, I attended a Baptist church where the pastor and his spouse seemed to be tutored by Diotrephes, himself. They possessed a similar mindset, as they too were members of and the protectors of the church coterie. This pastor was a dictator who pushed his individual doctrines on the people. He made it clear that his doctrines were superior to Scripture. The clique consisted of his loyal followers who seemed to report any insubordination; namely, anyone questioning his teaching. If someone revealed any signs of discontentment to a member of the coterie, this member would report it to the pastor and that person would be called before him or another pastor for verbal discipline.
When it came to this coterie acting unkindly, that is snubbing and ignoring non-clique-members, especially the poor, the pastor or his wife’s response to such accusations was something to the effect, “Well, people naturally associate with those within their own economical, educational and social level.” This pastor and his wife were deceived in the utmost way and chose disobedience regarding our Lord’s holy teaching throughout the Bible on caring and loving others unconditionally, especially the poor.
Men resembling Diotrephes enjoy playing God and living on an elevated plane, reveling in the attention of men. Some unlearned people can be deceived by such leaders, thus accepting of any false doctrine that a dictator-pastor will present as he will take a verse here and there to dress-up his messages for an appearance of accuracy. Our defense to false doctrine is to be a learned people who show ourselves approved of God, knowledgeable in God’s Word, so we never become deceived by a false teacher no matter how charismatic they may appear.
Following any preached message, a person of perception (which we all should be) will study the verses before and following a preached section of scripture, comparing scripture with scripture.
Study tools such as a concordance, Bible dictionary and reputable commentaries also aid in obtaining correct interpretation. Just never rest in the opinion of men when using commentaries, make sure there is plenty of Biblical proof before accepting it into your heart as truth.
God’s Word also warns us not to add or subtract from scripture: Deuteronomy 4:2, Proverbs 30:6 and Revelation 22:18-19. When we discover a pastor engaging in this, we need to give heed to the Word alone and keep an eye on the one who is changing the Word. There comes a time when we separate ourselves from the one who goes his own way in interpretation and refuses to be corrected.
Pastors are human and they need us to hold them accountable as misinterpretations do occur, unintentional and intentional. One example of layman accountability, which is an illustration to all believers, is described in Acts 17 where in the city of Berea; wise Bereans searched the scriptures daily, learning with great eagerness! There is great excitement being expressed in this examination which I view no where else in Acts when the Gospel presented itself. “Great eagerness,” I feel, is an ideal phrase in representing how we should all be enthusiastic in hermeneutical scrutiny.
One of the reasons they studied so thoroughly was to confirm the teaching accuracy of Paul and Silas who came bearing the Gospel. They wanted to stand on God’s authority alone and not the words of mere men. Now we do know, the apostles were chosen men of God and that this calling resembled no other. But all men have faults and even the best-looking professing Christian can bear ulterior drives to gain a following, which was the motivation of Diotrephes.
These verses are put in the Bible to teach us nobility, so we can display distinctiveness as those who don’t believe what they are told without the proper Biblical assessment.
An Unnatural Love:
As Pilgrims on this earth we all should be daily involved in the growing process of obtaining greater love for others. It doesn’t always just naturally flow from us. Personally, I have to intercede before God continually, for Him to give me the proper attitude of care for those around me.
What hinders me as well as others from loving people from a pure heart is the fact that most every one has their own definition of those they believe to be unsuitable. However, this is not Christian. There should be none we find unreachable and unlovable. Joining a group or clique, in my opinion, is just a way for people to avoid the Biblical responsibility of reaching out to those they deem socially unacceptable.
If one feels they must be part of some elite group, I say, you might as well embrace the Ku Klux Klan. You may see yourself as too righteous for this organization as church cliques are not violent. However, church coteries do shun those they see possessing no value and though this may not be classified as a violent act, I believe it is. When people feel shunned, it is like being slapped in the face. When it comes to the internal pain, it can resemble having a cross burned in your yard. Both cross burning and shunning represent agendas of rejection and hate.
In Ezekiel 16:48-50, Sodom is reprimanded for living in careless ease, not assisting the poor and needy, plus being conceited. I don’t believe this simply means they did not give to the benevolent fund once a month. I believe they didn’t love people from a pure heart. In this passage, the homosexual issue was not directly addressed, which I find interesting. It certainly reveals if we are disobedient in our charity toward others, this greatly dishonors God.
When Peter and Barnabas revealed partiality to the Jewish church, they were reprimanded by Paul for being two faced, as they participated in partiality with their own people, the Jews. These two reputable apostolic pillars in Christendom snobbishly desired not to be seen in a Gentile church when Jews were present; Galatians 2:ll f.
Much of what we view in scripture purposes to teach us to have an unnatural love for others, even through exposing our church fathers.
The Situation in Corinth:
In first Corinthians chapter 1, we see the priority item addressed by Paul, which is partiality. Church attendees being in their coteries according to what eminent teacher they followed. They all felt they were following the most paramount, whether they were following Peter, Apollos or Paul. Paul is quite stern with the situation and very straightforward. He makes it clear; he is ashamed of their actions. Paul exhorts there be no divisions among them, as Christ is not divided, as He died and now lives for all.
In chapter 2, Paul continues to exhort them in the arena of humility as he, Paul, was one who did not walk in pride to impress and make devotees, but presented himself as one who only knew one thing … “Christ and Him crucified.”
Paul states in chapter 2 verse 5, that our faith is not to rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God! Throughout the books of Corinthians humility is so stressed and no wonder, it is so easy to follow men and look to humanity for the answers. We must keep our eyes on Christ alone. We are to attend church for the purpose of growth and ministry. Being a diligent servant must be our goal. That is why Christ washed the disciples’ feet as an example of humility and kindness as preparation for future ministry.
Meekness is not usually a sought-out desire. I have two boys and competition is often times the name of the game. Who out does whom in what areas? It comes down to: I this and I that. Now you outdo me! Correction by my husband or me is an absolute must during these times of struggle for prominence with our sons.
As adults, we often require the Heavenly Father’s gentle hand of correction when we feel we must compete for a prominent place of notability. This is why Paul emphasized how he came in humility in 1 Corinthians chapter 1. He did not arise to the occasion with flattering speech and state-of-the-art attire, as those who desired the recognition and the following of men.
Many believers in our contemporary world do not desire to reveal humility and servant-hood; never desiring to be witnesses of these attributes of Christ’s. It is even difficult to find one who will ask another’s forgiveness. In a certain detestable clique situation, I inquired of the pastor for an apology to be made to one greatly injured; but he simply stated, “If the assistant pastor feels led to do so he can.” To my great disappointment, there was never an apology made.
Rarely, do I find a pastor even desiring to display the attributes of lowliness that should be constantly played out in believers’ lives, which includes a true humble heart that admits wrongdoing.
We also find in associating with the humble and lowly, that it is not an inner yearned for quality in today churches and their leadership. People desire to be first and noticed by all. The song, “You’ve Got to Please Yourself” can be seen manifested throughout our congregations to God’s anguish.
I would implore you to study the heart of Paul and take notes as to his demeanor. It is beneficial to study all of 2 Corinthians, especially chapter 6, noting the weight Paul puts on learning meekness, that of releasing all pride and forsaking the false-teaching and false-example of those who walk in pride.
As you survey into 2 Corinthians chapter 11, you will witness parishioners acquiring improper individuals to govern them. They took no heed to these men taking advantage of them to the degree of even thrashing them, as long as they felt nurtured in some manner.
We see similar complacency portrayed and illustrated during the era of Hitler, as many people sought to be led. Even during this WW11 period, the media governed the peoples’ perspectives. With Hitler being portrayed before the camera as a powerful, charismatic individual, he arose to control readily. Historians agree, if the German media had not promoted Hitler, he never would have arisen to his realm of domain.
Hitler gained a large following through the majority of the German people preferring to be guided into reason by one appearing commanding, knowledgeable and fearless. Today the media still guides the masses, due to the fact people would rather not take the time to research issues for themselves and gain their own conclusions. It’s easier to listen to well-dressed men and women who are educated in the realm of current events and politics, simply assuming they know what they are talking about.
In writing to the Corinthian church, Paul was attempting to enable the people to mature beyond external dependence that only produces a temporary security. Pompous world and church leaders are always brought down by the hand of God. Proverbs 16:18 declares, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.”
Games of Usury:
Cliques manufacture personal games with rules of obedience. Part of many manipulative games is following a format as to whom coterie members select, reject or use temporarily. The game is tight knit and players cannot move unless they are told to by a group leader. One of the rules they seem to enjoy is collective, deliberate shunning. I have even witnessed pastors participating at times.
There can be a variety of players and pieces moved in strategy as the clique engages in the game. Pace progress is dependent upon the church situation; plus, the power the coterie is allowed to possess through leadership.
I personally understand this game, as in time past; I was rejected by a church clique and not even spoken to by the organizer unless they needed something from me such as my approval regarding some situation. Without warning, they would start revealing an interest in me. It certainly made me suspicious. I felt as if they were walking around with concealed walkie-talkies attempting to make the correct spoken moves according to their preprogrammed rules and desire for achievement. Consequently, there were always ulterior motives for their measures and it did nauseate me to see their desperation.
Politicians can become unusually friendly when it’s time to go to the polls; the same can be said of those who have hidden motives for achievement. If a member of a coterie suddenly takes an interest in you, you need to ask yourself, “Why?” Make sure their motivation isn’t to place you outside the will of God. Don’t act with partiality toward them because they are treating you suddenly as a noteworthy human being. This possibly could be due to the fact you are one who oversees an area in the church that relates to some power they desire to add to their rulership.
Groups will try to use and manipulate whomever they can and if they aren’t members of their coterie, they will dispose of them immediately after they have fulfilled their purposes. They may be considerate to you one Sunday but shun you the next.
The Unacceptable One:
The city of Portland, Oregon holds most of my childhood memories. Though I loved this city, it was where I acquired many painful memories as I was a rejected foe amongst church goers and secular society. I was seen as unworthy to be spoken to by many aristocratic believers as well as many unbelievers. God manufactured my reliance on Him, by providing me with an unacceptable appearance. He equipped me with a protruding overbite. Additionally, He permitted me to be thin and poor to give me insights into human nature within my surrounding sphere.
Suffering much sorrow and heartache led me to contemplate thoughts of suicide on several occasions during those years as a maturing child in grade school and also in junior high. These negative thoughts of destruction arose from the fact that I was so loathed in my public school due to this unacceptable appearance, coupled with being a Christian. My fellow classmates would taunt me during class and would also pursue me after school, acting snide, threatening and beating me. Even a few teachers showed contempt for me. On one occasion, following P.E., students ripped my dress apart which left me humiliated and embarrassed.
Christ faithfully brought His light to me within these many hours of darkness through these distressing years. Showers of peace and hope would shelter me, delivering me from the realm of destructive thinking.
Over these harsh and trying years, I never retaliated, as I desired to reveal continual faith and love through my Savior who persistently brought His assurance to me out of His great compassion for me.
When I would move into the church realm, I found life a bit different. I was not beaten and followed home from church. Even though some believers were cruel to me, it wasn’t as harsh.
Unfortunately, it takes little effort for believers to put friendships and social status before Christ due to the fleshly pride we all carry. The cruelty I did receive from church, I believe stemmed from haughtiness. Believers found me unworthy as they possessed a material status I did not, plus an acceptable appearance which I did not. They possessed all the social graces; I possessed negligence and public failure. Since I was unattractive and poor many preferred not to be seen with me.
These coteries I knew in the church, outwardly seemed to have little or no heart for God and enjoyed talking and socializing more than listening to the sermons and serving. I could not receive acquiescence among these believers. They mostly ignored my existence.
As a young churched adult, I was not invited to most of the social parties, which was fine. I always felt like a duck out of water observing everyone trying to impress one another and experiencing fun in a worldly manner without the alcohol and sex. It was during these years that an assistant pastor, who oversaw our college/career department, informed me I was unsociably suitable due to my appearance.
Even though I was viewed as being on the bottom of the barrel of social acceptability, I was thankful I had some contact with those in our college/career Sunday school class. Much of the class did love the Lord deep down, I believe. They just attempted to fit Him into their social grooves, which was objectionable to me. It was disputable, knowing that the Christ of the Bible did not come to earth to have fun. He came to reveal His love for lost sinners by reaching out to the needy, not to fulfill desires of grandeur through a clubbable agenda.
Seeing and learning personally what it takes to be accepted by this fallen world through negative experiences enabled me to enlist two conclusions, if people aren’t lovely, they are mostly ignored. Plus, to be able to reach more with greater influence, I needed to correct my overbite. I desired to be a voice for the truth of God’s Word in the world of acceptability, where I could never venture and be respected in my present condition. To be honest, I did desire to be more attractive as well. (I don’t mean to say if you possess imperfections you can’t be a witness for Christ as He desires to use the unacceptable ones to His glory; 1 Corinthians 1: 27-29).
It was at this time, when in my early twenties, that I decided on surgery. I had come to the knowledge that the Portland Dental College was implementing a new technique, a surgical procedure to correct severe overbites. I had acquired an adequately paying secretarial job with insurance benefits after graduating from a local business college which permitted everything to fall together. God also provided me opportunities to witness to others while in the hospital. The excision procedure required seven hours; and two years following, I acquired braces for straightening.
It was like stepping out into a brave new world following the surgery. The daily fear I formerly held throughout my life of what people would say and do to me completely dissipated. People at church, work, etc, accepted me and liked me. In some ways this saddened me, as people, including Christians, appeared so superficial. There was a deacon in our church who would never speak to me. He saw me as worthless; however, following my surgery, he actually greeted me at church for the first time.
This was not a happening that put a complete end to my social unacceptability in Christendom, as I have suffered rejection for just standing on the Word as well as for standing with those who are treated as undesirables. Due to this, I have also received denunciation and hatred from pastors. However, through the years, I have grown more confident in my stances through the power of the Lord, which has led people to view me as one who will not compromise the Bible.
Many believers receive rejection as there is much prejudice in the church in general. In some areas of the country you can be rejected displaying the color of your skin. Women have been turned away or snubbed by churches due to appearing in pants and not in a dress, and men for not wearing a tie. A friend, who is a professor at Dallas Seminary and a world evangelist, informed me he knew of men who were rejected for wearing a tie. This hate list progresses and many testimonies can be added to mine.
Christ did not have any outward beauty that attracted the public to him. Isaiah 53:2 reveals Christ had no stately form or majesty that we would desire to look upon Him, nor appearance that we should be awestruck by Him. His magnificence came from within. That is what believers need to pursue in others, the rare gems of the beauty within.
God allowed many obstacles into believers’ lives throughout the Old and New Testaments to perfect them into rare gems. Genesis chapters 37-47 reveal how Joseph’s uncaring cliquish brothers rejected and persecuted him during his years at home even to the point of attempting to assassinate him. Joseph was an attractive, gifted boy, but it didn’t keep his brothers from forming plans for his demise. When the opportunity arose to fulfill these plans, they removed his coveted cloak of many colors and viciously threw him into a pit. Joseph was removed from that pit when his brothers decided not to kill him after all. Instead they sold him as a slave; whereby, he was brought to Egypt.
After experiencing many trials and tribulations through slavery and imprisonment, he was eventually raised to the place of ruler, reigning beside Pharaoh in power. This was all part of God’s plan, holding a divine purpose as He bestowed upon Joseph great wisdom which allowed the world to be saved in famine during his ruler-ship.
After many years of separation, Joseph was reunited with his brothers when they sought rations in Egypt during this famine, though they recognized him not. They had no idea that this powerful ruler was their grown brother. They believing Joseph had eventually died through their mistreatment of him, experienced shock and guilt when Joseph revealed his true identity. Deeply they feared what Joseph would do in revenge; however, Joseph put on a heart of grace that left all vengeance to the Lord. Joseph was a rare gem formed by negative circumstances which God turned into blessings. What Satan desires for evil, God can transform into good; Genesis 45:5-8.
Remember those who perform evil get their comeuppance as God promises He will bring chastisement, and His discipline is completely just. Thus it can be far more severe than anything we could inflict and consequently regret when God judges us for not waiting on Him. Remember God works within the heart and life. We cannot reach in and bring discomfort to a disobedient heart which God can and does. His power of justice is unlimited … ours are very limited! We often work apart from grace and reform.
As we viewed the case of Joseph, we witnessed him justly holding to charity and reform concerning his murderous intending brothers. God, who sits on the judgment seat, also brought convicting legal action within these brothers as they admitted they were guilty in the narrative of Genesis 42:21.
I have been able to identify with Joseph on a minute level, as people from my past, including my former high school classmates, have witnessed that God has been absolutely faithful to me. He did not leave me in the dust as they did, viewing me as a person who was completely undesirable.
At one of my former high school reunions, a previous classmate approached me and apologized for her cruelty towards me. I felt amazingly blessed. She had felt guilty all these years and when I received her in love, she apologized. I hold no bitterness towards those who shunned me for my unacceptable appearance and I want them to see the joy and love God has placed in me through it all. I deeply care about these people and I have prayed for their salvation.
Joseph also became fully blessed of God when he received his brothers in forgiveness. Forgiveness is a key word for us who suffer and have felt rejection. If we carry bitterness, we are not better than those who have harmed us. Christ loved his enemies, the very ones who orchestrated His crucifixion. To be a rare gem, we must shine with such forgiveness—a forgiveness that harbors no pride.
You can locate many beautiful gems in the Bible, people with lovely, God-fearing hearts. Even though tested through the fires of rejection and tribulation, they stayed firm. Before anointing David as king, Samuel questioned how such a young and little man could ever be king! Consequently, God took this time to educate Samuel. In 1 Samuel 16:7, God informs Samuel that he is not to focus on the external appearance as men do, but he is to center in on the heart of a person.
Sequencing David’s anointing was his desire to slay Goliath, but he was scorned and ridiculed. This maltreatment did not prevent him from performing his God-given task. David was rejected time and again and suffered great heartache being a fugitive of the law. King Saul was continuously seeking his life. David hid in caves during the years he thought he should have been reigning as king. God protected, guided and assured him through these agonizing years. In Psalms, we read the anguish of David poured out over time. Nevertheless, David always counters these Psalms of sadness with Psalms of gladness. Our Mighty God of Valor always brought the strengthening rays of sunlight in David’s darkened cave to reveal His transforming power to craft a rare gem that would someday rule as a majestic king.
We can never let peoples’ rejection and this world’s tribulations impede God’s given will for our lives. We must adhere to godly examples such as Joseph and David for a steadfast walk in our Savior, Christ Jesus.
Cliques Bring Bondage:
The Bible consistently warns against cliques. Whenever we disobey the Word, we settle for second best. One may think, if he or she could just be a part of a certain influential group or could form one, then they would have all their fusses met. Well, … it just doesn’t happen that way; as with any sin, there is always the bondage. This bondage is made evident by the fact there are usually just one to two people who take on the leadership role of a coterie and it is they who determine how the clique is to act, how often they will gather for activities, and all associations with others predetermined.
Another form of bondage, leaders of cliques inflict, is their control of how a member ministers and to whom they minister. They do not want anyone ministering to someone who does not met their criteria, so the church suffers and people leave. Excuses are always given to leadership. You might hear something to this effect, “Well, our personalities clash or you know, you just can’t get along with everyone.” Since they find the person to be socially unacceptable, they don’t feel they are lying.
People who are part of a clique will usually submit to the leaders or leader of the group not because it is proper, but because they will in no way hinder their position. They don’t want to be cast aside as undesirable material. Bondage is a key element of the coterie, factoring that one allows others to control friendships and one’s activities in life. Christ brings freedom from bondage. When one is part of a clique, he cannot feel the liberty he has in Christ. For one reason, he is under sin. He is disobeying God’s Word for the purpose of self-acceptance. The Bible does not endorse groups, just the opposite.
A Lack of Joy and Respect:
I have never seen the fruit of joy exhibiting itself in those who buy into coterie sin. Usually people in a clique are not overflowing with happiness. My personal observations of a coterie, is its members are usually downcast to a certain degree. I have also seen people who normally exhibit joy, lose a great deal of it, once they compromise and become a member of a social group.
I wish they could see for themselves the obvious change that consumes them. They may feel a difference, but choose to live in denial believing they are now happier by following others. Leaders enable them to feel secure as much of their decision-making is accomplished for them. Isn’t simpler better? Self-deception always wins when sin is chosen above obedience. Only when we follow Christ can we truly experience joy. The more we follow His Word, ignoring our desires, the more happiness consumes our being.
God exhorts us as believers to be above reproach. Once you surrender to a group, you forfeit your credibility. Satan is a liar and he wants to make you think people are looking up to you now, when they are actually looking down on you. I have also found that many people who are a part of a clique lie to cover their questionable tracks. When you compromise in one area, you usually grow to compromise in many areas.
It’s those people who love and reach out to everyone who gain respect and exhibit joy, not those who shun or ignore those who are not in their coterie. If you are a member of a social group, you may be responding right now with, “I’m friendly to everyone so go bite the dust.” Well, I’m not so sure. From my experience of observation, cliques usually talk to others only when their friends aren’t visible. I’ve smiled to let a person know I want to greet them, but they have walked right past me acting as if they didn’t see me, just because they noticed a comrade from their social setting.
If you truly desire to be filled with the joy of the Lord and want to be respected through integrity, simply obey God’s Word and reach out to all in love and grace.
The Discontented Clique Member:
People who are in cliques are unsatisfied. If a person is truly a believer, he or she will only acquire emptiness in attempting to experience pleasure and acceptance from worldly principles. The realm of fun and self-gratification only produces contentment for a season as we read in Hebrews 11:25. When a person gets to this point of seeing sin as a passing pleasure, then the Lord may lead you to reach out to them through ministry training. Invite them—one at a time is best—to assist you as you minister to the hurting. They may just need to witness personally how people suffer so sensitivity to others’ needs can arise through the Holy Spirit’s inner guidance. Learning to assist those in hardship will be beneficial to them. Titus 3:14, exhorts believers to learn to engage in good deeds, to meet pressing needs so they will not be unfruitful.
You may want to invite one of them to attend a nursing home with you or request them to assist you in teaching the Bible to the elderly. You might ask one of them to assist with bringing in a meal to one who has had surgery, etc. Someone may be bedridden and unable to clean their home; show him or her how they can support you or another in this ministry.
If you just sit back and feel sorry for yourself along with others who have been injured by these people, most likely nothing will ever be corrected. I believe feeling sorry for oneself is not of God. Naught is accomplished in this state of being. When we are feeling pitiful for us, we put self on the throne of our lives and not God. We need to ask for the wisdom of God as commanded in James chapter 1. We need to cast aside our sorrow of rejection and put our minds to work on a Biblical solution. Inquire of God to reveal to you what you can do to bring more tenderness and charity within the church walls.
Pray for the members of coteries without bias. I personally enjoy praying the prayers in the Bible as well as what the Holy Spirit lays on my heart concerning each individual situation. If you pray using scripture, you know you are praying in the will of God. I especially enjoy praying in accordance with Colossians 1: 9-12. You know if you are interceding for clique members “to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord that they may please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God,” etc, that you are praying God’s preferred desires for their lives. God does answer our murmurings if we pray in His will and if the recipients are open to His desires.
You can make a difference in one or more of the lives of these discontented and backslidden people who need answers when the clique falls short of meeting every need. People can hide the pain, but eventually you may be able to expose it and bring healing through just showing them unconditional acceptance even through their present rejection of you. Being a witness can eventually open their eyes to the unfulfilled lives they are living. Always willing to disciple and be an example may bring them running to you someday.
Adequate revelations demonstrate individualists never join cliques. A true Christian individualist finds his support in Christ and Christ alone. Individualists do not view people as those who must meet their needs, but as those Christ unconditionally loves, minus any ulterior motives. They picture people as individual ministries. They contemplate, “How can I minister to this person today?” It’s not an attitude of how can this person make me feel more important or with whom should I associate so I can become popular?
Not being an individualist in Christianity can put a person in a vulnerable position; understanding, they will pursue most anyone for security reasons. The danger of this is exposed through scripture. During the lifespan of Elijah, his stance was to stand alone. Alone with God made him a majority. In 1 Kings chapter 18, we see Elijah standing unaided against the in-grove religion of the time—that being the worship of Baal. Those, who chose to be in style, desired to compromise their faith in God by taking in a dash of Judaism and a pinch of Baal, thus forfeiting their lives after God’s power was uniquely demonstrated.
Elijah was extremely unpopular and disliked by the cool, externally religious Israelites, yet he was magnificently blessed for being an individualist, always traveling the road of individuality no matter the personal surrender.
Many believers living today are undistinguishable Christians who often persecute dedicated believers for living an uncompromising life. Steadfast uncompromising believers need to resemble Elijah who did not incessantly fret about what people thought of him. Elijah is an example in teaching us individuality as he was a faithful follower of God who stood at his God-appointed post as an enlisted soldier who did not entangle himself with worldly pleasures and philosophies. No godly individualist lives by a popularity chart, if he truly views himself as just an obedient soldier of Christ; 2 Timothy 2:3-4.
God knows we cannot stand without an occasional heartache. We are not made of steel and neither was Elijah. In 1 Kings, chapter 19, God had to renew Elijah’s faith as His protected charge when Elijah fled in fear just after God demonstrated his power and character. I confess, though humbly, that this certainly seemed to be a funny time to be fearful to me. I mean Elijah had just witnessed God’s all-consuming fire. No doubt, God gets a laugh too, when He witnesses my lack of faith when I have to cry out to Him when in passing distresses. After all, He is Lord of the universe and nothing escapes His control and command.
Jeremiah 17:5 is one of God’s warnings to us. This verse emphatically announces, any man is cursed who trusts in any man and makes any man his strength. Our source of strength is to be in Christ and His Word alone. If you now or in the past, simply said God save me from my sins through Christ’s shed blood and take control of my life, you know you need to rest in no other. Men will always fail us, but Christ never will! This verse in Jeremiah is put in the Bible to teach us nobility so we can display individuality.
You can see the consequences through history of men thrusting aside individuality and joining groups. Jim Jones was a leader who was charismatic to his death persuading others to join him in the crypt. This sad true tale reveals the dependency that occurs once a person implants another being’s ideas certain they are more important than his own.
Being an individualist therefore is one who never caves into trends or the will of sinful men. He stands solely on the Bible even if he is the only one. He is empowered by God not by in-groove church trends, clique-clannishness or media incentives.
All Inclusive But Partial “Grace Mode:”
This is becoming the dominate mindset in Christendom. Every believer under the all inclusive “grace mold” does whatever is right in their own eyes. They also implement its code to justify others. This “grace mode” is additionally applied to back away from obeying God’s Word in the area of correction and reproving, which is hard work and makes enemies. What additionally makes this correction realm unpopular is the fact that people will on occasion leave the church if wounded for sin. Therefore most pastors neatly sweep these verses under the church’s narthex carpet. However, they will justifiably yet incorrectly apply them, when showing hatred to those who do not meet the church’s socially acceptable standards such as not dressing in stylish clothing, being externally unattractive, crippled, impoverished, etc. Some pastors won’t even blink an eye if someone socially undesirable leaves the congregation through unbiblical pressure. They might even glory in this accomplishment.
“I live under grace” may be your response as a pastor for not implementing needed corrective action for congregational members who are dwelling in sin. Yes, you do, but that doesn’t invalidate the character of God or His statutes. In Hebrews chapter 12, we see God as our loving father who disciplines us when we engage in wrongdoing. In 1 Corinthians 11:30, Paul informs the Corinthians that many of them are ill and dying due to their misdeeds. There are many passages in the New Testament that warn us to obey God or they’ll be consequences. In Matthew 18:15-17 we witness the responsibility being placed on pastors to perform church-discipline when necessary on those who are unresponsive to correction.
I have witnessed pastors; however, deal in partiality when it comes to overlooking the sin of those who are part of the socially acceptable scene. Everything is made hush-hush, but when one is not in the inner-clan, they are humiliated and hated, not Biblically approached in love with concern. Thus proper church discipline is not applied in either case.
When it comes to the unacceptable believers, I’ve seen them humiliated from the pulpit in sermons omitting their names, but many could picture who they were through the details declared. They were not first approached by elders with the evidence of two or three witnesses as the Bible commands. No grace was afforded to them.
If you are a levelheaded believer who doesn’t cater to partiality, but you have been requested to become part of an elder, deacon or ministry board, yet you have reservations because of the way the undesirables are treated in your church, you need to believe me when I say, “It is far … far better to sit in the back pew with a clean white heart that possesses pure innocent love for everyone, than to sit before the church with those who posses blackened hearts that contain the ashes of those who have been burned by the sin of spiteful prejudice.”
I have witnessed a youth pastor ridicule one from the youth room pulpit who did not meet socially acceptable standards while later pampering a teen who was pregnant because the family was in the inner circle of acceptance.
You might ask, “Don’t people who participate in partiality feel guilty?” I believe they do, but they feel they are living under grace and their other good deeds replace any indiscretions.
The partiality “grace mode” excuse also flows forth when people are confronted with their unfair treatment of others who don’t fit into the social realm of acceptability or their inner circle of friends. You might find their responses to be similar to this when confronted, “Grace overrides scripture. I am under grace therefore I don’t have to be put under Biblical legalism and love all the brethren. No one gets along with everyone! I refuse to associate with certain Christians in this church!”
Don’t you cave into this ideological mindset! Exodus 23:2 teaches us not to follow a multitude in doing evil. Your response to someone who gives excuses for being cliquish is to continue to stand on God’s Word, and not cave into any justification to disobey God when it comes to being charitable to others.
Some people believe they have to submit to a pastor no matter what the circumstances, but if you are asked to disobey or not apply God’s Word, then you have to contravene or just leave the fellowship. Our ultimate authority is God and He does not want us wavering for any man. Yes, we must respect our pastors, but not to a place of disobedience to God’s Word or believing since you live under grace all is acceptable. We can’t call wrong right and right wrong. We can’t decide not to love a person because the pastor doesn’t, and he expects you to follow suit simply because a person is not considered clique material.
Our Response to the Less Fortunate:
To reveal the heart of God more and how emphatically, God desires that we not respond positively to cliquish intentions, take a close look at Exodus 22:23-24. In Israel, the widows and orphans were considered the lowliest of human life, very disrespected as well as hated by the religious upperclass. This is why God continually reached out to them as we see throughout scripture. Verse 24 is very strong in revealing God’s feelings and judgment. It dreadfully discloses God will take the life of one who is unkind to any of these misfortunate ones. The command to care for widows and orphans is restated in James 1:27.
Our response has to be one of love if we want to walk in obedience to God’s teachings when we see others elevating themselves above the less fortunate and unacceptable. We can’t become part of the “in crowd;” we have to be those who stand alone for Biblical uprightness. If you walk in the strength of God, He will give you the ability and wisdom to stand in the gap for these people.
How Do I Keep From Being Associated With a Clique?
If you are automatically friendly to all, you will not acquire this stigma. It is easy to fear conversing with those who partake in cliquishness as you can feel everyone is watching you. It is wrong to shun those who belong to coterie groups due to their unfriendly attitudes. By choosing not to speak to them, they could label you as cliquish, as it may appear you only want to associate with certain ones in the church. They could call you on it or gossip about you especially if they know where you stand and they desire your defeat. They would certainly want to appear more righteous than you for power sake. You are dealing with the powers of darkness.
I too have feared appearing cliquish, but if other believers see how you reach out to all, that ungodly attitude will not be associated with you. Godly Christians will let you know they appreciate your attitude of acceptance toward all, if you are indeed reaching out to everyone in charity.
Socialization of the Church:
The foremost reason the church has to deal with cliques is the fact she has become lukewarm. In Revelation chapters 2-3, we can dissect the downfall of churches. Many symptoms are revealed, including exposing the blending in of the social culture. What occurs in Revelation and in fellowships today is society’s agendas become implanted. Churches leave their first love and accept the deeds of the godless, becoming tolerant and blending into the social scene. As a result, they become dead churches; 3:1. The church is very dead and lifeless as Revelation and other passages of scripture predicted it would be as time pressed on.
This death has resulted from believers not caring if their church is endowed with the spirit-filled, powerful life that arises from God. What is of paramount importance today is making sure people are gathering together for fun activities. They desire to leave the Biblical spiritual emphasis mainly for Sunday service, having no interest in living consistent spirit-filled powerful lives that radiates throughout the week through every action.
The world greatly emphasizes the social culture resulting in fellowships acquiring this mentality. I have found that churches who engage in social agendas are usually prone for cliques and partiality as believers can only be accepted on a social acceptability basis which many do not meet.
If you attend a typical church this Sunday and pick up a bulletin, you most likely will notice several activities listed under the week’s events. Rarely can you attend a church where only ministries are listed such as care visitation, weekly evangelism, nursing home outreach, and prayer meetings. If the church was to turn from the satanic social realm and focus on spiritual maturity, the church would change and cliques would be rare.
When believers meet together, fellowship should be the main goal and that of ministering to all in His name and speaking the things that bring glory to His name. Christ should never be put on a back burner for the sole purpose of having fun.
Though we see fellowship as an important part of ministry, it does not engulf organizing socials. We must remember God never commands socials in His Word nor is an example set forth in this area, He only commands ministry so we must keep things in the proper perspective through Biblical analysis. Outside of Sunday services, nothing should be placed before church ministries. If they are, something is amiss within the body of believers.
If you research the word fellowship, you would recognize the Greek word is KOINONIA. This engulfs partaking in communion, contribution and sacrifice. We share in the ministry of the Lord which produces fellowship, which is also a synonym of communion. One verse that enlightens us to fellowship is Philippians 4:14, where Paul states we have fellowship by sharing in Paul’s affliction, which came to him by propagating the Gospel. It was not a life of ease that we imitate. Christ did not live a life of ease and pleasure. It involves sacrificing ourselves for Christ and to His will, as a body of one.
Satan has a huge foothold in our churches because he wants us having fun, and shunning the work aspect. Why, because believers have bought the worldly lie, that we are to do as little work as possible and have as much fun as possible. You cannot find any emphasis on fun when you study the implores for the church in scripture. You find people getting out and giving the Gospel and at times, dying for it. Christian service was the primary objective and should be the main function in any fellowship today.
As an employee or one who has been employed, you at certain times have been asked to perform functions that you did not desire to accomplish, yet you executed them. However, in the Christian realm, many believers feel they should spurn anything unappealing; yet, God’s commands us to do the work of the ministry. This doesn’t mean just the things we enjoy. Our love for God must proliferate beyond a solace zone. It has been stated doing one thing a day that one does not enjoy is beneficial; this assertion would certainly profit the believer who feels he should not get involved in ministry because it is too intrusive and uncomfortable.
When and Why Churches Changed:
The priority list in churches began to take on a new form when things got satanically twisted around, when new philosophies entered the church realm. The new philosophies centered on the church becoming “hip and cool” to reach the lost. Believers began reading and accepting philosophies in the realm of adopting worldly attitudes and life-styles, data which emphasized how we had to resemble the world to reach the world. This philosophy still predominates the Christian bookshelf and church philosophy.
The church is now lifeless; it has to depend on famous Christian entertainers and evangelists to appear so unsaved people can be reached. How sad, how desperately sad that believers have to depend on outsiders to see powerful results in outreach just because their main agendas revolve around being entertained.
Church entertainment is completely contrary to God’s holy Word; yet, it has become everywhere present and accepted as normal in most fellowships. In one respectable denomination, I was subjected to a pastor who obviously believed his main calling in the pulpit was to entertain the congregation. I felt disgusted! I do not attend church to see live entertainment; I attend to hear God’s Word preached by a spirit-filled godly reverend. It is extremely disheartening to witness the entertainment world become the church’s mainstay within Christendom in the name of contemporary-ism.
Many Christian singers are now supreme performers. Christian vocalists fear not imitating worldly secular singers, even down to imitating the sensual. Awhile back I was viewing an evangelistic program and I couldn’t believe what I saw, as a camera man went down and under the cloak of one Christian entertainer, though male, it still stunned me. We should all be in shock when Christian production companies resort to sensual camera techniques. It seems to be more and more predominant as contemporary Christianity falls farther into its pit of deception.
When I witness a female Christian entertainer or vocalist dressing in extremely tight pants with a bit of cleavage or belly exposed, I just pray for God to convict her heart in the area of modesty. We have gone with the world and it isn’t any wonder coquettishness, fornication, and adultery are ever present in our churches.
In light of the fact that some Christian entertainers go from one mate to the next, engaging in improper relations; unstable believers reflect, “If these famous respected people can live like this, why can’t I?” All believers need to be held to high standards including those on the charts of worldly popularity. Though I believe this kind of fame is not in any way Biblical nor does it represent the meekness, humility and lowliness of heart we see in Christ; Matthew 11:29. Being imitators of Christ in all realms of godliness is His ultimate command to us.
The dilemma of the Church is it has become so secularized, it actually believes if it acquires secular actions, these procedures are sanctified. The church has to swallow herself in denial to accept all that is so clearly of Satan.
Deluded Christendom seems to suppose, if one or more persons comes to salvation through worldly compliance, then it is completely of God. Whatever happened to wisdom, common sense, purity, modesty and trust in the power of God to work when things are done apart from the world’s methods and man’s sensual gratification?
Our God is completely omnipotent!! He lacks nothing and is entirely capable of saving apart from this present culture. We must not believe if we shun contemporary-ism, all will fall apart. How big is God? Well, nothing can contain Him not the highest heaven or deepest earth; Isaiah 66:1 and Isaiah 40:12-26. If the Lord required the methods of changing society to be part of His plan, He would have never called us to come out and separate; 2 Corinthians 6:17-18 and James 4:4. Beloved writings of the saints of old, including our hymns, embrace separation through holy living through us pressing to seek higher grounds through greater Biblical obedience.
All these radical changes witnessed in this century, taking place in the church, can be disheartening to the devoted believer. However, 2 Thessalonians reveals the apostasy must come before Christ returns. The apostasy is everywhere present in the church of today. Revelation 17 speaks of the great harlot who represents the pagan religion of New Babylon. We certainly have some insight into the harlot as we view general churches today as people can divorce, live together in immorality, including homosexuality. It seems most people don’t even care about the sins that exist in the church.
Women and men can come to church in short and revealing clothing, yet immodesty is rarely addressed from the pulpit in fear of offending and losing members. Modesty, purity and moral living are essential parts of Biblical righteous living; therefore, the church should never give any ground to anything that could represent the approaching great harlot.
One abused excuse for the church conceding to present culture is found in I Corinthians chapter 10, verse 33, where Paul states he becomes all things to all men. I have heard this verse quoted time and again. However, if you study the entire chapter of 1 Corinthians chapter 10, not just verse 33; you will notice the entire chapter has zero to do with partaking in today’s conduct. It deals with one being inoffensive through politeness and courtesy. A verse can never be set apart from the others which reveal the total meaning. It states Paul in no way offends the church, Greeks or Jews. The chapter deals with not eating meat sacrificed to idols as it may offend a brother. In no way does it address the church accepting those things that are questionable and contrary to God’s Word.
Yes, Paul did say in 1 Corinthians 9:20 that he became a Jew to win the Jews, but you and I rightly know that this involved him applying Old Testament principles to his lifestyle; not him becoming pagan in action and deed. Paul was a righteous man who would never forfeit his decency, humility and purity. If he lived today, he would not desire to be a famous Christian entertainer. He would not revel in popularity and fun on a stage adding in a touch of the Gospel to make him feel he was doing the right thing. This would be contrary to all his writings passed to us through the Holy Spirit.
Herodias’ daughter dancing before Herod represents Biblical entertainment; Matthew 14:6f; truly revealing its perversion. Entertainment is to please the sensual prideful man. Just as Israel of old desired to emulate surrounding society, so duplicates the church today.
In Acts 8:9f, Simon the magician who enjoyed entertaining the people with his magic arts seeks Christianity for worldly fame and gain; verses 18-19. His attitude is not acclaimed but disclaimed by Peter, who exposes the evil condition of his heart; verses 20-23.
Christians who exercise performance abilities are generally elevated above the common believer which also sets the stage for partiality and judgment. Pastors love to use externally, gifted people, setting them in the forefront, so they can be admired and adored. Pastors know people’s evil, sensual desires crave gifted entertainers which can incite increasing membership. This is owed to the fact that even believers follow after charismatic individuals, shunning the ordinary and ungifted. Satan has made sure the Hollywood mindset is set in stone amongst believers to their detriment.
As believers, we have only one truth; it is God’s Word, which is God-breathed. It is still wholly relevant for today. In Matthew 5:18-19, Christ informs us that not the smallest letter or stroke will pass away from the law until all is accomplished and whoever annuls the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven. Mark 8:38 further enforces this as Christ signified His authority by stating, “For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”
If Satan can deceive a Christian to believe that one verse or more does not pertain to him or her, or these verses are just an apostle’s opinion, then Satan has won them to his side. Once a believer begins to question the relevancy of any scripture, he or she can then question all scripture to their sinful advantage and mindset. This is how Satan comes in the backdoor of any congregation. When one person starts to question scripture because of outside cultural influences, then they can lead many in a congregation astray. I’ve witnessed it. It usually propagates when believers accept man-contrived doctrines over scripture. Men believing men know more than God, the Creator of all things. You may even locate believers not holding to the Genesis account of creation due to the devilish influences of evolution. Don’t be surprised to find one of these deceived believers teaching your child’s Sunday school class.
Believers cast undesirable verses aside as irrelevant for progressive contemporary culture. Perhaps they don’t fit under the turban of Women’s Lib incentives or what their favorite television commentator or movie star recently proclaimed.
What Happened to Biblical Instruction, Training and Obedience?
Another ailment that produces cliques is less and less Biblical examination and obedience. In the book of 2 Timothy, chapter 4, verses 2-3, God warned Timothy, His obedient servant, that people would eventually want very little Bible teaching. They would tell the preacher what they wanted to hear and he would comply. In other words, into the future, Christians will request messages that don’t challenge them to conform to the Biblical Christ. This future is today.
Pastors excuse wish-washy messages with a statement such as this, “Well, they just can’t understand the Bible so we can’t teach verse by verse.” What I personally believe regarding this, is pastors judge their words as holding greater significance than scripture; thus they believe straight scripture cannot truly relate to today. Yes, they will use a verse here and there to try to formulate the Bible to support their message thus sounding Bible-centered, but the meat of the Word is never implanted in parishioners’ hearts.
Pastors will also excuse themselves from teaching scripture by stating they have too many baby Christians in the church. That is were discipleship comes into play. Infant Christians must be tutored into adulthood by mature people in the congregation that can disciple them through basic materials on Christianity that wet their appetites for meat. I have seen new adult believers and children become part of an inductive class study and relish being able to grow in their knowledge of the Word at a rapid pace. Sometimes we unfortunately view new believers as redeemed infidels with little or no brain. A gifted inductive teacher will patiently work with infant believers in the class. I have also witnessed class members disciple new believers which lends much excitement to a teaching course, especially as they behold these young believers sharing as they progress. Loving discipleship made available to all, diverts clannishness in churches. All our loved and nurtured without bias!
In today’s church, even if we have only one to two people who desire Biblical inductive teaching, pastors must preach and teach without any compromise. God must be our only influence when it comes to the Word. People can’t pose as barometers. So many pastors manage their church and preach messages according to the input of the congregation rather than according to the input of God. These sermons are meant to appease socializing congregational members where most don’t even desire to pay attention. They never appear to be taking the Word of God seriously; yet, pastors cater to their mindset and influence. Rarely do I see any spiritual growth in these people. If they decide to attend an in-depth class, they usually find something to complain about in an attempt to tone down the discourse. Their goal is to curve all teaching into light and fluffy, please-all-people messages. Because these cliquish socialites have influenced many churches, many homilies that flow from congregations now center on friendship.
Pastors who prefer not to have inductive teaching in their church hurt themselves and their congregations. Some mothers will hinder their children’s growth by never allowing them to develop and mature. They are usually very protective as well as manipulative and controlling. They hinder their children from independence, doing everything possible for them, thus not providing them the opportunities to explore and learn. This type of mother prefers to perform all tasks herself. She usurps tactics that keeps her children dependent upon her for as long as possible; her children being her security. She will attempt anything to keep a grown child from leaving the home. This same type of attitude of manipulation can be seen in the church as a pastor desires his congregation to seek him for every detail of spirituality rather than developing the members into mature Christians who are trained to lead others.
Skilled-equipped believers who enter the church can frighten the immature minister who sees his position and respect threatened. The pastor may fear they will perform ministries in a superior manner. Thus pastors put on a form of partiality formed by insecurities as these believers will usually become ignored by him. Because the pastor holds so much influence, he can pass unfounded negative concerns to leaders so they will never ask these godly-trained believers to perform ministries. This type of pastor would much rather ask a cliquish, ungodly church member to perform a ministry than one he believes can threaten his domain.
Pastors must realize training godly leaders is a very positive move for church maturation even if it results in him having to deal with his own godless intimidation. It is important to get beyond insecurities and rejoice in the leadership which the Lord has developed in others, and then the true virtue of humility can illumine a pastor’s life which transforms the pastor into a superior leader.
A pastor who chooses to become a superior pastor and build trained leaders is responding to Paul’s exhortation to Timothy. Paul proclaims to Timothy and all future pastors, not to play games with the people. Pastors must be serious in their intent of only implementing the Word. Congregations will not mature to adulthood in the faith unless they are regularly implanted with the scriptures which inspire future leaders. A pastor will witness very little maturity in his fellowship when he is only playing softball. To be in the big leagues, he has to play hardball. Meat is harder to consume than milk therefore the implementation of the Word must be regularly chewed on.
I pen this to persuade and enlighten all to the eminent place the Word of God should hold in churches and believers lives.
Evangelism Is For Reaching Out To All:
Balanced pastors appropriate time for equipping the saints for service; Ephesians 4:11-12. Pastors must pursue commands beyond just hermeneutics. One command for service is spreading the gospel to all in a lost and dying world. This can be implemented by spending some time out of the office for outreach.
Ephesians 6:15, commands all, including pastors, “To have their feet shod or covered,” which is getting out and doing business with a lost world with their shoes on; not sitting under a desk in soft suede slippers. There is no reason to armor one’s feet if one is not going out on the battle lines, therefore, the soldier is not to stay hidden in a church. We see the brave soldier going out to meet the enemy head on, standing firm in God’s power. Many lost people would never think of venturing inside the church, yet pastors sit there waiting for them to come in. The unsaved multitudes lie in communities, outside the church doors, where pastors are to move in shoe leather.
Those shepherds who are out on the battlefield leading people to the Savior are filled with God’s excitement and wonder, thus it is relayed to their congregations in every message. It causes flocks to want to share in witnessing obedience which creates on-fire churches with less clique-snobbishness, as the burden to cherish all is sent and felt throughout these congregations.
Unfortunately many pastors see outreach evangelism as “uncool” for today’s society. I believe they are too fearful of trying it, being apprehensive of going door to door. They don’t walk in the faith and power we have heard or read of pastors marching in from ages past. Also many seminaries put no emphasis on Biblical forms of outreach today, outside of friendship evangelism. Many ministers use this form to pass the buck on their God-given responsibility to equip the saints in Biblical-forms of evangelism by stating, “Just witness to people as you get to know them through friendship evangelism.”
“Friendship evangelism” is a modern-day-term for a proven and tried method witnessed in both the Old and New Testament. Naomi, in the book of Ruth, is a perfect example of one who implemented it effectively, as she befriended and witnessed to her daughter-in-law, Ruth. It is a great approach to evangelism! It is an easy method to teach and pastors don’t have to move from the security of their church to implant it.
Many pastors have no idea how to implement other forms of evangelism into their churches, if they have only been trained in this one method. As a result, they have no desire to apply and execute other means of evangelism without instruction. However, the Bible is the best training book of all.
If pastors begin to apply the Bible and pursue additional types of evangelism, they would not be caught off-guard when congregational members learn other outreach methods through scriptural examination. Of course, the main methods exampled are godly men preaching at public gatherings and going house to house. But how often do we witness this in America? The majority of men are too proud to preach to the lost. They see it as belittling to enter the unsaved public sector presenting the Word of God in power. Fortunately, the Spirit-filled apostles never worried about social acceptability. It was the public places that the apostles moved out into, to boldly proclaim salvation’s plan to all without any spirit of partiality. May the LORD raise up multitudes of men who hold to the hearts of the apostles.
Congregational members who desire to go into public places with the Gospel, feel a responsible love for a lost world. Some churches will have classes on evangelism, and other various ministries, but they usually leave the people to do it on their own. Very few pastors will take people out into the community and personally teach them door to door witnessing, park evangelism, and street corner outreach. You do not usually see pastors teaching godly young men to preach in public arenas. On-the-spot-training is so rare! The result is few saints have an inkling of outside church ministry.
As a pastor you may respond with, “Well, no one in my church has time to devote to outreach ministry. The believers are far too busy as it is.” Well, pastor, if you remove all social activities from the church agenda, you may just find many people who do have the time. Occasional scriptural reevaluation is a key component to any pastor’s ministry. A schedule change may be a necessity if your time is not set completely on Biblical priorities. You can train others to lead outreach ministries as well. You, like many pastors, may be truly overextended.
Pastors must realize the people who desire to be trained in evangelism are special. They desire to reach and draw others into your church without social conditions attached. They usually are not members of cliques and are mature in their faith. They are people who truly care unconditionally for this fallen planet. These people are being led of the Holy Spirit and the Word. Pastors please do the work of an evangelist and teach others to be equipped for outreach. You are commanded to be instructing by example; maturing the saints into the service realm. It is simplistic in scripture.
If congregations were taught to care for everyone and how to reach out to everyone, cliques would diminish. We would have a genuine love for everyone in the world, as Christ so loved the world and gave His all for every person.
Responsibility and Respect:
Responsibility in respecting our pastors and teachers is a Biblical act. I do not write to cause discord but to challenge us all to greater heights of Biblical compliance. We all fall short and need constant new challenges so we can be further conformed into Christ’s image.
There are believers who will cause discord just because they do not see a pastor or teacher doing what they expect. We must respect our church leaders as God commands. No church pastor or leader possesses all the gifts of ministry, as far as I know, and we can’t expect them to meet every need in a fellowship. Lay people should lend a hand when they sight a shortcoming and not use a failing for an opportunity to gossip.
Praying for your church’s deficiencies and not backbiting or becoming grievous, will keep you walking in the joy of the Lord. Sometimes it takes years to witness God’s answers to prayer, so don’t ever resign from your church fellowship unless there is direct and willful disobedience to God’s Word by the pastor or pastors.
If church leaders are unwilling to submit to the truth of disclosed disobedience through loving confrontation, seek other counsel from godly people you respect. This can assist in guiding you when you are disheartened by those things you witness as unbiblical taking place in your assembly. Don’t take grievances to those who will pass them on; thus using your confidences as a chance to gossip about your church’s shortcomings. Only confide in those who will keep things to themselves and will pray for you and the situation.
There are instances in which people desire to make those who share church concerns look bad because they bring conviction to them through their concerned Biblical stances. These people will twist and turn what you have revealed to make you appear as a rebel. Be ever so cautious in sharing things of a personal grievance with another unless you fully know the person’s heart.
Please love all the brethren steadfastly and keep praying for continual and renewed charity for everyone. Keep to the course in all steadfastness for we all are lacking creatures and can be subject to sin if we don’t hold close to our Savior. Stay in the service of ministry and don’t submit to social agendas. Don’t start saying, “No” when there is a need to minister to people because others are requesting your attendance at their social gatherings. Set proper priorities, Biblical priorities. Satan will tempt you with your ego. He knows it is fun to say, “I went to this party and so and so was there and we had so much fun!”
If you are one who would never be invited to a social, hold onto the fact that in God’s eyes no one is detestable. In some ways you have it better than those who are within the “in crowd.” You know what it is to depend on only God because there is no one else. You have knowledge of the Holy One that few possess. Remember the O.T. prophets who stood alone much of the time as they would have it no other way. They wouldn’t forfeit their allegiance to God for anything, as they knew the loving presence of the Holy Spirit was far grander than anything men could contrive.
Please don’t desire to be someone God never intended you to be! God has a plan for every one of His children which includes His suffering children. It is easy to envy those who are traveling a road of ease. You know wherever they go; people will want them to be their friend, always automatically accepted into groups of pleasure-seekers. However, God sheds light in the dark places to reveal the reality of shallow lives.
In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus encourages the unacceptables through telling us a narrative, which I believe to be true. In the tale, we have this very distinguished rich man who dressed habitually in purple. Now purple, in the period of Christ, represented great wealth and prestige. He was definitely a “show-off.” This man was no doubt the envy of the town.
Proverbs 19:4 states everyone desires to be a friend of the rich, but no one desires to associate with the poor. The reason this is so true is because people long to participate in the benefits that come from being with the rich as they share their food, possessions, pompous associations, etc. Now you might think this rich man is the great hero of the story as he is the envied one. Not so! His name is not even revealed.
Jesus presents contrast to the story by telling us of a very poor and ailing man, the hero of this story, “Lazarus.” This impoverished man was suffering physically, and was spitefully unattractive. He was in such a detestable state, that even the dogs had compassion on him as they licked his body sores. … Dogs don’t realize they are to be partial to the attractive, rich, etc.
The rich man was a stingy man; not a giver, who thought nothing of this beggar in tattered clothing. He would not even sacrifice a crumb from his table to bring some refreshment to this down and outer.
Do you know who everyone envied in the end including the rich man? Yes, this poor man that everyone shunned as worthless and unworthy of life. Why? Because this rich man, who appeared so religious, being so blessed by the Almighty materially, had no heart for the ways of the Lord neither the natural compassion that issues from being a friend of God. Therefore, he ended up in a very hot place!
God looks at the heart, so dear friend, you who may so adequately fit into the poor man’s shoes of circumstance, as you may be in a wheelchair, disfigured, without a home, unable to move from your bed, mentally challenged and on and on; you could be the one the adored social-elite envy as being the exalted hero in the end.
I believe what Christ is attempting to get us to comprehend from this story is that our lives on earth are simply a drop out of an ocean; but how we live our lives for the Lord counts for the ever unending drops of all the oceans, which represent eternity. Dwell on how many drops of water it takes to fill our oceans. It will give you a clue as to how silly it is to desire the selfish temporal things of this world.
When it comes to me, I extremely fall short of perfection, so please pray for me to remain steadfast in the faith and for my love to be faithfully abounding for everyone. Thank you!
A letter to me:
… After 5 years of desperately trying to connect with other women/believers in my current church I have finally resolved that I have been continuously excluded from an inner “clique” in our bible study group. …
I feel so lonely and isolated and have a true sick feeling in my stomach when I think about how much I have ached to be a part of the body and have been rejected by my Bible study friends and several others through the very large church we have been attending. My son has been excluded as well …
I am finding myself almost depressed and though God tells us to be “anxious for nothing but in everything, through prayer & supplication, giving thanks to Him, to let our requests be made known to Him and the peace that passes all understanding will guard our hearts and our minds through Christ Jesus;” I am not finding my heart very well guarded and have been effected deeply by constant exclusion and gossip.
I feel so dejected and almost like I should just turn in toward myself and focus on my husband, son and the Lord …
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