Take Heart — Christ Always Preserves His True Church and Exposes the Counterfeit
In my 30+ years as a Christian I have seen and heard so much hurtful comment and lack of support shown to women in abusive marriages in the church. I am so disgusted with the Church and heartsick over this issue. How do I keep this from negatively impacting my walk? Anyone else feel this way? (Commenter on the ACFJ Facebook page)
We can all certainly identify with this, can’t we? Most all of us used to have faith in “the church.” In “our church,” meaning our local church we belonged to. We trusted the pastor and leaders. We read the popular books written by the well-known authors and theologians. We assumed that the “norm” was that most everyone around us who said they were Christians, were: that there was an occasional phoney, but those could be dealt with and after all, there is no perfect church.
But all that has changed. Or rather, WE have changed. Our eyes have been opened to the reality of things. How? Because we have been touched by evil through the wickedness of abusers. And more, we have been touched by the evil of how our “church” enabled those abusers and added to the oppression of abuse victims, which in many cases was us. We have seen the lack of compassion, the lack of love, the lack of a zeal for justice to be done. We have seen rotten fruit borne by so many who claim Christ’s name. We have seen them embrace the evil one and reject the righteous, calling evil good and good evil. We have seen money and prestige and comfort trump justice and love and mercy for the widow and orphan. And we have seen it all in “the church.”
Is the Christian church done for? Is the whole thing pretty much a sham? Should we just give up on the whole idea of the body of Christ and realize we are on our own? It sure feels like it sometimes, doesn’t it?
But in fact what has happened to us is that we have been awakened to the reality of things. Listen to the Apostle Paul —
For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. (Romans 2:28-29)
See it? There were lots of Jews in Paul’s day. Circumcised people. Temple-going people. Religious people. But most of them were not really Jews. Why? Because the outward rite of circumcision is not what made a person a Jew. The real test is whether or not the Spirit of God has circumcised (regenerated) their heart. Furthermore, the person who is a true Jew receives praise from God, but derision and reject from man, especially from fake Jews.
And so it is today in the New Covenant. Listen to the verse again with a couple of tweaks —
For no one is a Christian who is merely one outwardly, nor is baptism outward and physical. But a Christian is one inwardly, and regeneration is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God. (Romans 2:28-29)
This makes for a much smaller church than we might have imagined once. Much smaller. And yet Christ always, always, always has His remnant of true sheep who hear His voice and reject the call of the stranger —
And Isaiah cries out concerning Israel: “Though the number of the sons of Israel be as the sand of the sea, only a remnant of them will be saved, for the Lord will carry out his sentence upon the earth fully and without delay.” And as Isaiah predicted, “If the Lord of hosts had not left us offspring, we would have been like Sodom and become like Gomorrah.” (Romans 9:27-29)
Those who mistreat the oppressed, who apply the letter of law instead of showing mercy and compassion to victims of evil, those who trample on and ex-communicate and shun the widow and orphans who have been victims of the wicked abuser. . . those “Christians” are going to end being exposed for what they are unless they repent. They will end in (Jesus’ words here) eternal fire.
I think that Christ is exposing the phonies today more and more. We just banned a commenter from our ACFJ Facebook page because she thought everyone was being too critical of a famous abuser and that it is wrong to talk about these things on the internet in front of the world. We say that the talking about evil and exposing it in front of the world on the internet is the BEST thing to do! Evil loves secrecy. The counterfeit “church” loves its fake reputation and hates being exposed. The Pharisees scream and shout and gnash their teeth when they see the truth of Jesus setting captive abuse victims free.
The remnant of Jesus exists. The gospel is true. God’s Word is true. And we have been warned in that Word repeatedly to watch out for the counterfeit, to take care and guard against the leaven of the Pharisees. Sure enough, things are playing out exactly as Scripture says. And that strengthens my faith rather than weakening it. He is coming. He is coming to judge the earth.
With trumpets and the sound of the horn make a joyful noise before the King, the LORD! Let the sea roar, and all that fills it; the world and those who dwell in it! Let the rivers clap their hands; let the hills sing for joy together before the LORD, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with equity. (Psalm 98:6-9)