“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts.” (Col. 3:15)
The tsunami of sin flooding the world today touches us all. We add to it. We suffer from it. It is flooding our churches.
If somehow we could all get together and gently swap stories, my hunch is we would be shocked at the mistreatment that has been dished out to many of us by churches—both by abusive leaders and by abusive members. There is, of course, a difference between being hurt and being harmed. I am not thinking of people who get their feathers ruffled and then howl their complaints. I am thinking of people who have been harmed and wronged, people who have suffered slander, lies, loss of position, loss of reputation, loss of friends, and more. Many reading this post have suffered in these and other ways. It is shocking what churches can do—both leaders and members.
Wouldn’t life be easier if we fought our battles on only one front at a time? But we usually fight on two fronts at once—not just conflict with others but also conflict with ourselves. We need God’s help to be especially aware of all that endangers us within.
What can a sufferer easily lose sight of? Keeping himself, too, under the judgment of the Word of God. A sufferer looks at the wrongs done to him, and he brings them under the judgment of God’s Word. Good. But it is easy to be so focused there that the sufferer doesn’t notice how, in his appropriate indignation, he might mistreat those who mistreated him.
Never mount a campaign to correct those who wronged you. The Bible says, “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God” (Rom. 12:19). The wrath of God is all the wrath this world needs. It would be nice if unjust people finally owned up. But they don’t have the self-awareness to do that, which is what makes them unjust in the first place. They will never see it until God opens their blind eyes. But he will. And only he can. If you appoint yourself the one to open their eyes, you are putting yourself in the place of God—which is what your abuser did to you. Don’t let your abuser make you an abuser. Sit tight, and trust in the Lord. This is extremely difficult. But your own moral fervor will inevitably make things worse. So, the extremely difficult choice you are left with is this: a bad situation (of their making) versus a worse situation (of their and your making). That really stinks, doesn’t it?
Heaven will be a relief. But for now, while we’re still in this mess, our primary business is with God. In fact, our primary battle might even be with God. My recommendation, as a pastor, is that you wave the white flag of surrender to him. Not to them, but to him. Rather than be frustrated that he isn’t fighting for you the way you’d like, why not do what the Bible says and trust him to deliver you in his own time and way, and maybe not until we are all standing before him above? There is no danger in trusting the Lord. If you’re going to err, err toward waiting on him to vindicate you. When he does—not if he does, but when he does—it will be much more satisfying. What could be greater than for Almighty God to rise up and say about you, “This one you mistreated is my beloved, my friend, my servant. Back off”? That moment is coming. “He will deliver you” (Prov. 20:22).
Trust him. Trust him. Trust him. And let the peace of Christ rule in your heart.