Some of the worst people we are ever going to meet are Christians.
Paul marveled at the Corinthian church: “You have such admirable tolerance for impostors who rob your freedom, rip you off, steal you blind, put you down- even slap your face.” (2 Corinthians 11:19-20).
So tell me, why are you a member of your church? You have been there for thirty-eight years and have still not been healed of your infirmities; yet you remain. You know your pastor is sleeping with a chorister; yet you remain. Every Sunday you are harassed into giving more offering than you would like or can afford; yet you remain.
You remain, not for the sake of Christ, but for the sake of men. You remain because of social and soul ties. You remain because your pastor has style. You remain because that was the church your parents went to. You remain because your friends are in the church. You remain because your business associates are in the church. You remain because you have been hoodwinked by another gospel.
Why do we receive in our churches the traditions of men? Where does it say in the scriptures that it is a sin to leave your church for another one? Where does it say your tithes cannot be paid to the Motherless Babies Home? Where does it say if a woman wears trousers or earrings she would be disqualified from heaven? Where does it say you have to go to Bible College before you can be baptised?
Answer such questions not by reference to your pastor’s dictates, or by reference to the conventions of your church, but by the word of God.
However, the danger is not only from pastors, bishops and televangelists. The danger is also from fellow Christians. David was distressed because his betrayer was a member of his church. In all probability, they were prayer partners, or they might have been members of the same church choir. He said: “We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company. (Psalm 55:14).
Some of the worst people we are ever going to meet are Christians. They will be the ones who will steal from us and from the church. They will stab us in the back and betray us. Judas was not an unbeliever but a “Christian.” He was one of the twelve disciples. He preached the gospel. He performed miracles in the name of Jesus. Nevertheless, he was a son of perdition who ended up by betraying the Lord.
They are not all Christians who are Christians. There can be unequal yoking even among Christians. Don’t get married to that brother simply because he is a Christian. Don’t enter into a business partnership with someone simply because he is a “prayer warrior” in the church. If Jesus can be betrayed so can we.
Jesus says: “A man’s enemies are men of his own household.” (Matthew 10:36). This is not just talking about our homes; it is also talking about the church: the “household of God.” It is not just talking about the church; it is also talking about us. We should beware of ourselves. We should not trust ourselves: we should not trust our hearts because the heart is deceitful. (Jeremiah 17:9).
The traitor in man’s life can turn out to be his eyes which insist on beholding evil. Pluck it out, says Jesus. It might turn out to be his hands which are employed in doing mischief. Cut it off, says Jesus. It might turn out to be his feet which seem determined to carry him to hell. Amputate them. It might turn out to be his tongue which he uses to curse and abuse. Cut it off. Or it might turn out to be his mind which is lustful. Fill it with the word of God.
Beware of Christians who are regular church-goers. It does not mean we are people of integrity. Beware of Christians always quoting scriptures authoritatively. We may not even understand them or believe in what they say. Beware of Christians always asking you for money. We are probably trying to use the gospel to empty your pocket. Beware of Christians who are contemptuous of non-Christians. We are ignorant that Jesus was only critical of Judaism; his own faith. Beware of self-opinionated Christians. We want you to go to hell when you don’t share our views.
Beware of Christians who insist you must not use your brains in order to walk by faith. We are just trying to put one over on you. Beware of Christians preoccupied with how women should dress. We are controlling and are suffering from lust. Beware of Christians who swear in God’s name. It should tell you immediately we are telling lies. Beware of Christians who say: “The devil made me do it.” The devil might make us do something to hurt you. Beware of Christians who say after an argument: “I’ll be praying for you.” It means we hate your guts.
Beware of Christians passionate about a “man-of-God.” We are not disciples of Christ. Beware of Christians always with a testimony of yet another “blessing.” We are only trying to make you insecure. Beware of Christians who call others “brother this” and “sister that.” We may be using the brotherhood to pull wool over your eyes. Beware of Christians who always have a word from God for you. We want to be the god of your life. Beware of Christians who often show up when you are having your meal. It means we see you, and not Jesus, as our “bread of life.”
Witches and wizards
The modern church is full of witches and wizards, all operating as busybodies. They are always looking for negatives, and always pouncing on negativities. If you lose weight they will tell you that you are too thin. If you put on weight they will tell you that you are too fat. “Mary, I would not wear big flowing dresses if I were you; you know you are a bit short.” “Peter, don’t you think you should be married by now?” “Praise the Lord!”
Religious know-it-alls always know the reason for everything. When they occupy exalted church positions, it makes them very deadly indeed. They reduce the believer’s relationship with God to formulas. They imply that God can be programmed like a computer.
The moment we are sick, or bereaved or jilted, or dismissed from a job, there is a coterie of religious experts who know exactly what is responsible for our adversity and precisely what we must do to get out of it. More often than not, they make copious references to the word of God. But somehow this always makes us feel worse. The scriptures warn that the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.
A Christian brother committed adultery. After the act, he became very remorseful. In despair, he went to his pastor and confessed the sin to him. The pastor was outraged. “How could you do such a thing? Don’t you know those who commit adultery cannot inherit the kingdom of God?”
The poor man became even more guilt-ridden. In confusion, he reached the wrong conclusion. He left the pastor, went home and committed suicide.