I am reeling from confusion and hurt. People that I thought were “for us” are talking negatively about us all over the community. I don’t understand why they would say the things they are saying. We have sacrificed so much for this church and for their families. We don’t deserve this kind of treatment. The thing that really gets to me is that it is all pure fabrication. None of it is true. Why would these people that I have loved act like this?
SET ABLAZE in Alabama
Dear Set Ablaze,
Devestating. It’s purely devastating when your integrity and character are attacked by people within the Church. When Jesus talks about being persecuted for our faith, we assume that it will come from people outside of the Christian community. But even Jesus, in His darkest hours, was betrayed and slandered by those who claimed to love Him the most. These people that He had been entirely transparent and vulnerable with decimated His trust and friendship with the power of their untruthful words. They knew Him the best and because of their friendship, they were able to hurt Him the most. As Christian leaders, we are no more exempt from Judas’ kiss and Peter’s lies than our Lord was on the night of His betrayal.
When these moments come into the midst of our ministries, they often knock us off our feet and shake us to our core. And while we are gasping to catch a breath, someone will come by and kick us in the head. I long for Jesus’ strength to forgive His persecutors in the midst of His crucifixion, but I’m no Jesus. So I turn to what comforts me the most in the moment of my hurt: REVENGE! ;0… No, not my revenge, but God’s justice. Psalms 101:5-8 says:
Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor, him I will destroy;
No one who has a haughty look and an arrogant heart will I endure.
My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me;
He who walks in a blameless way is the one who will minister to me.
He who practices deceit shall not dwell within my house;
He who speaks falsehood shall not maintain his position before me.
Every morning I will destroy all the wicked of the land,
So as to cut off from the city of the LORD all those who do iniquity.
Of course, this doesn’t absolve us from our responsibility to forgive. These kinds of events put us in the “bitter ‘ol pastor’s spouse” danger zone. Bitterness-caused wrinkles and back-row isolation can be the product of these kinds of ministry devastations if we let them fester. Challenge yourself to not retreat. If you are innocent, you have no reason to hide. Let God defend you. If you walk in a blameless way, maintain your integrity, don’t return evil for evil, God will ferret these lies out. He has a way of shining the light on the truth. Prepare yourself though; it may take a long time for the truth to come out. But rest assured, God will deal with those who attack His faithful ones. You are not the only one who will feel the fire! You are in my prayers.