More and more I'm becoming aware of the way the church, generally speaking, is becoming deformed by what appear to be invisible forces. Mind you, I said, "appear to be invisible"!
As a young man I worked on a farm where hormone sprays were used to control weeds. A day or two after the spray was applied the weeds would begin to take on a deformed appearance. Unless one was informed about what was happening, the behavior of the plants would be extremely puzzling.
To a person who had never previously seen the plant, it would not draw a second glance.
A similar thing is happening in the church. One would have to have no knowledge of what the church is supposed to be, be very naive, have a vested interest, or an agenda, to not see what is happening.
At this point I'm reminded of the old saying, "There are none so blind as those who will not see", because, one thing, which is very obvious to those who will see is that:
1. God's people are being manipulated from the pulpit from which they swallow whatever is spoken as if it came from the very mouth of God. Now that's all very well if one has no brain, or recognition that the one making the pronouncements is a member of the very fallible human race.
Thankfully we do have a brain, which our Designer expects us to use, wisely and logically, to check out for ourselves whether these things are so. That's why the Bereans were commended (in Acts 17:11) for what they did.
One of the things that caused me great concern when attending conferences, both overseas and at home, was the very apparent lack of personal views of Scripture based on personal Bible Study. When overseas, I asked many people, in a very large church, what they believed about certain things; the answer was ALWAYS the same, "The pastor says....".
2. A practice which is rapidly being more and more used against fellow believers who may have ,even small, differences of opinion, is what is erroneously being called "church discipline". There is an insidious side to this which is becoming more evident as time goes by; this so-called discipline is being expedited behind closed doors, often without the church members knowing what is happening, and often, without the one being disciplined being able to defend themselves, or express their side of the matter.
There is another aspect of this, so-called, church discipline, where the leader (I cannot bring myself to call him pastor) simply ignores the person being disciplined, avoiding eye contact with, refusing to speak to, communicate with the one who has raised his ire.
All of this could be expected in a non-Christian environment, but NEVER in a congregation of God's people.
As well as these most important matters there is the matter of church leaders using the offerings of the congregation for their own benefit, purportedly to further their "education", but more often than not to massage their ego, excuse going on junkets, the main purpose of which is to make contacts and get opportunities for the furtherance of their "careers" (such as invitations to bigger and better pastures), and as a consequence, their incomes.
Now, if they have ambitious agendas, and aspirations of notoriety, that's between them and God, but to use congregational resources to further those agendas and aspirations, is downright immoral and dishonest.
3. Connected to the above No.1 is the naive assumption that, because a man receives a "call" from a church, he is to be trusted implicitly in regard to everything, and that everything he says and does is God's explicit will and plan for that church.
Of course, like the next point, the "called man" will make sure he, quite often, makes mention of this so-called, "fact".
4. He will also preach fairly regularly, or often mention, that he is the one who has "authority" in the church, with the implication that to question him is to question God.
He is well practiced in showing his displeasure if challenged, or questioned, on any matter, whether Biblical or not, and always with the inference that to question him is the near equivalent to questioning God.
5. Closely related to No.4 is the indignant proposal that anyone else who throws doubts on his pronouncements about Scripture is also questioning God; thus an Arminian, or Calvinist, whatever the case may be, cannot be a faithful believer and must be carefully avoided.
6. The threat of church discipline (interpreted: pastor discipline) is carefully made clear to any who want answers to questions.
7. There is the adamant assertion that the leadership (because they have the "call") are never the problem in a church, because deacons and elders are of such spiritual calibre that they have the mind of God and always have the church's best interests at heart. It is a forgone conclusion that they can never make mistakes about such things.
8. There will be the careful cultivation of the thought that leaders cannot be more concerned about their career, aspirations for fame as preachers, or other personal issues than they are for the cause of Christ and His Church. After all church leaders are unselfish creatures who are immunized against "all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life", and proud to be such!
The more I think about it, the more I think about hormone spray affected plants! Or should I say "weeds"?