The Main Thing is to Keep the Main Thing the Main Thing
UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.
Once I heard about a church down in the South (of course – the story involves fried chicken), that started giving cheap fried chicken meals to people in need, or for that matter, anyone who wanted to stop by. As time went along, the fame of this chicken (that’s chooks for those of you who live “down under”), the fame of this chicken spread far and wide. Customer numbers increased, so the church fathers decided to up the price. The thing just kept snowballing and…. well, no one really remembers when it happened. But today, that church building is a fried chicken restaurant. There are just a few vestiges of the Christianity that used to dominate – you see it on the menu here and there – The Goliath (that’s a 12-piece bucket), or The Inferno (hot and spicy buffalo wings) – things like that. Profits are big. But the church is no more.
In the history of the Christian church, there are many examples of detour from mission. Most of you have probably heard of liberal Christianity’s pursuit of the “Social Gospel,” which embraced social reform in place of the preaching of the gospel of Christ. Maybe some things were reformed, but it certainly wasn’t done by the power of the gospel —
1 Corinthians 1:17-18, For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. (18) For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
As we are involved in this ministry to the victims of abuse, we must always remember to keep the main thing the main thing. The main thing is Christ. The gospel. The main thing is to preach the Word of Christ to people who are lost and perishing in their sin. For those victims we meet who are Christians, we apply the love of Christ in doing everything we can to help them get free and to heal. While we do so in many ways that are similar to secular programs for the abused, we have an incredible thing that they do not have. We have the gospel of Christ and the transforming power of Christ. It’s the same when we deal with victims who don’t know Him. Yes, we want to help them, to see them get free from their abuser. But we don’t dare stop there. We are commissioned by our Lord to present them with Jesus Christ and the redemption that is in Him. That’s the main thing. Because unless a person is set free from the ultimate abuser – the devil – in the end, for all of our efforts, they will perish for all eternity.
I think that ministry to victims of abuse is a HUGE mission field. Is it not interesting that the firstfruit of the harvest in John chapter 4 was that Samaritan woman, who may well have been the victim of serial divorce (instead of the harlot she is often thought to have been). And it was just after this that Jesus challenged the disciples –
John 4:35, Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.
So let’s go for it! But take care, lest we become a fried chicken restaurant, devoid of Christ.