I sat with an old missionary who spoke of the brethren he had left his home to work with years before. He said that they were the most hard working, gracious and godly saints he knew. He told of the brethren’s dedication to the lost, and how they endured persecution within and without the church as they reached out to their neighbours.
What the old missionary didn’t tell me was that the brethren of that congregation were inspired by his dedication to Christ, and had leaned on him for strength and courage during their hardest days.
On one occasion, after returning home for a season, he returned to find that another missionary had come in during his absence and literally decimated the congregation. He did not despair. Instead, he drew the brokenhearted remnant together and encouraged them to continue to do what Jesus had called them to do. They did, and a great work continues to this day.
Though we are vigilant to keep destructive forces out of the church, we sometimes miss the ones that arise from within. The ones that blindside congregations most often come in the form of outbursts of righteous indignation. Sadly, these are just expressions of unresolved sin masquerading as ‘holiness.’ Its hard not to react harshly to such self-righteousness. But that can only make things worse.
Paul warns, “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other” (Galatians 5:15).
Many congregations (as the one above), have recovered from Satan’s attempts to destroy them. They have continued to sow and water and relied on God to give the increase. And He has!
Stability and progress are hard won on the best of days. So, pull together we must.
“Jesus died for us so that we can live together with him, whether we are alive or dead when he comes. So encourage each other and give each other strength, just as you are doing now” (1 Thessalonians 5:10-11NCV).
John Staiger (