This is my thoughts on some posts I seen on Facebook and some things I have been hearing and seeing happen.
I have talked to many people about why they left COR and not one has “bad mouth” the church. Many people were quite happy with “the church” and several still take their children to STORM because it is such a great part of the church. I have not heard one person “bad mouth” the pastor either. Almost all have stressed a concern for one or several of the pastor’s there and sadness for the loss of compassion for the people. All have recognized that all the pastors at COR are human and can make mistakes. The people that were there to see Ruckins were there just for that, not to see or hear any other pastor, so it shouldn’t be that surprising. COR just happened to be where Ruckins was speaking. Would anyone be surprised if someone who didn’t like watching the Browns but loved to watch the Steelers showed up at the Brown’s stadium for a Browns/Steeler game?
Division in the church does hurt God. Paul wrote about this very thing in 1 Corinthian’s 1. As Paul says there, “Has Christ been divided?” 1 John 2 tells us that “the one hating his brother, he is in the darkness and walks about in the darkness. And he does not know where he is going, because the darkness [has] blinded his eyes.” We each have to be careful where we walk. We need to make sure that we are not walking blindly in the darkness. We need to be careful not to start hating one another, holding grudges, and saying things, especially without getting to the truth of things.
Why does everyone seem to assume that people just got offended and left? Speaking for myself, we didn’t “just” get offended and leave, there were several reasons we left, so what may appear to be something that happened over night may not have been. What we see is not always what is real. How does someone else know when a person has been called by God to leave? There is no way of proving to someone else that it was God, it is just something that the individual knows. So how do we know that the people who attended to see Rutkins were all people who left because they were mad or offended and not because they were called away by God? It may even be that God allowed them to feel offended and that was what helped them to leave. Sometimes the way we know right from wrong is by being offended. Many people were offended in the Bible which caused them to act, to be moved and used by God. Shouldn’t we be happy when we see someone seeking a word from God or a good teaching, and willing to walk back into a building even though they may have to come face to face with someone who has hurt them, just to get that word?
Why couldn’t someone find what they had at COR somewhere else? Why is that so hard to accept? Maybe it wasn’t about what they HAD at COR, but what they were missing there and found somewhere else? Maybe the other church has everything that COR had, and some? Maybe it was something that COR had and now doesn’t? I’m not saying it IS any of these, just that there are other ways of looking at things. I have known people to leave one church and go to another because of the worship music, or the fact that there are pews instead of chairs, or because of the pastor’s preaching style, or because one church is closer to them than the other.
What I find interesting is that it is true that everyone has an opinion. However, the truth is that everyone shouldn’t have an opinion or at least doesn’t have the right to have and opinion of offense. If we were not directly involved, then we don’t have a right to have an opinion of offense. No one at COR or at any other church has a right to have an opinion about the reason I left the church other than me and anyone directly involved in that reason. No one has the right to suggest why I left either. If someone want to know why I left, I am happy to share those reasons with them. And let me say straight up, I am not “mad” at anyone. I would sit down across from anyone, any pastor at COR and gladly share a meal with them. If I shared all the things we went through with someone, they may say, “I would have left a long time ago.”
All pastor’s are not always a gift from God, however, ALL pastors are human. They are not someone more special or more anointed then everyone else. There can be people who are not pastors more anointed than the pastor they are serving under. Ephesians 4:11 didn’t say that Pastor’s were better than any of the other anointed positions. They are human and can fall short just like any other person can. They can also have their feelings and egos hurt. They do not always do what is right, and no one should expect them to. If we believe that a pastor is infallible, then we are sadly mistaken. We are told in 2 Timothy 3:16 and many other scriptures that we are to reproof and admonish and it doesn’t say, except for when the person is a pastor.
We can love someone and have to bite our tongue. Have you not had someone wear an outfit that you thought was ridiculous and you didn’t tell them what you thought? There is no way that any person has not had to hold their tongue with someone they love at some point. And I do not believe that it was meant in that manner. I believe it is meant in the context of James 1 and 3, not wanting the tongue to just be off and running without some control in it. I do not go around just spitting out why I left to everyone, so I am holding my tongue. The Bible teaches us this is a wise thing to do and is something that everyone needs to do.
What I find most interesting about this is that I have attended several churches in the area and found many former COR attendees at each. However, there seems to be severe animosity against those who attend one specific church. I’m not going to play games here, that church is Journey church. I go back to my point about opinion. If we were not directly involved with someone specifically offending us, than we have no reason to be offended or have an opinion of offense. Since Keith was mentioned earlier, I will use him as an example. I can not be offended by what was done in regards to his situation any more than he can in regards to mine. I can be upset. I can be shocked. But honestly, unless I can sit down and get the whole truth of the situation, I can not have an opinion of offense. I can not be mad at one person. I can choose to stand behind Keith, he can choose to stand behind me. I can choose to support Keith and he, me. But here is what I see happening here. People feel like they have to choose sides and they don’t. This isn’t about being in a gang. This isn’t about standing behind one man or the other. This isn’t about if someone jumps someone on my gang, I’m going to jump them. And then someone on the other gang jumps that person because they jumped someone who jumped someone … It is so ridiculous. We are all in one gang people! It is God’s gang. The Bible tells us specifically how to deal with issues that happen among God’s gang (the church) in Matthew 18. 2 Corinthians 13 tells us to have two witnesses. 1 Timothy 5:19 also tells us not to take accusations against an elder without two or three witnesses. In most cases, I see at least two witnesses. But it doesn’t tell us to take those witnesses so they can jump in, they are there so that the truth can be found.
The key here is to find out the truth. There is never a little bit of truth, there is only THE truth. 2 Corinthians 13:8 says “For we are not able [to do] anything against the truth, _but_ for the sake of the truth.” Everyone needs to stop piling on and start seeking the truth. Everyone needs to stop following a man and start following God. Everyone needs to stop attacking their brother’s and sister’s in Christ and start praying for them, ALL of them. Because if we see this as standing behind one man or another; if we see this as one man being right and another being wrong; then we see this as one man being able to mislead many people. And if that IS what we see, than the best thing to do is pray for that one man so that he can get right with God and lead people into the light, not into the darkness, no matter which “gang” we think we are on. Then we need to be thankful for those who were hurt and have found another church to attend. Then pray for those who have been hurt and are not attending any church. Then pray for our self, that we will be able to keep from getting an opinion of offense.
Jesus said in Matthew 12, “The [one] not being with Me is against Me, and the [one] not gathering with Me, is scattering.” The only victor in this gang battle over turfs will be Satan, and we can rest assured he is very happy about how things are going right now. So in the end, we are not making a choice between this man’s gang or that man’s gang, we are making a choice between Satan’s gang, or God’s gang. So which gang are we going to choose?
Father I ask that you look down and quiet the hearts and attitudes of each everyone one that needs it Lord. I ask that you reveal all truths so that all may walk in the light. Lord I ask for those that are not walking in your ways and in your plans be brought back into them. I ask that all those you chose to preach and teach your word be blessed and be strong leaders. Father, let them lead by your guiding Spirit in them. If they are not leading your people where you want them to go, please send your guidance. Father, if people are being led through the wilderness as Moses and his people were, then provide for them and bring them to their promise land a better people. Father, I ask that you touch each person who has been hurt or offended in someway. I am thankful for those who have been able to find another church to have their thirst and hunger for Your Word quenched. Lord, I ask that you comfort and heal those who have been hurt so bad that they are not able to walk through another church’s doors. I thank you Lord for providing your Son, Jesus the Christ, as payment for the sins committed by each and every person in this world, a payment that none could ever pay. I thank you for sending your Holy Spirit to comfort and guide us. And I thank you for being an all loving, all knowing, all giving Father. There for anyone who seeks you. In Jesus Precious Name, Amen.