It has been said that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. I believe this and I hope you do too. I would even take this idea a step further and add that those who cannot remember the past are condemned not only to repeat it but also to rewrite it. Ignoring the past, whatever it may be, is never a good or helpful thing to do. And it is certainly not a biblical or spiritual thing to do. What follows are some of the things that have occurred to me (or reoccured to me) throughout this ongoing ordeal. No doubt I will have more to say on this controversy and the subsequent church split.
I should warn you right up front, some of these may be uncomfortable. Most all of them make me uncomfortable because by God’s grace, I am recognizing my own deficiencies and sinful tendencies. Some of these are about me, some are about those who instigated this controversy and have since left, some are about those who remain at CFC. Therefore, these are pointed at me, pointed at the folks who have left for a new beginning (both bitterly and naively) and pointed at the congregation and the leadership (myself included along with the former leadership) of CFC. I will grant that some of these may evolve or altogether change over time but right or wrong, this is what I see as of now.
Here they are in no particular order:
1. Biblical leadership means that no matter what you do someone will always believe it was the wrong thing to do, and tell you so most authoritatively. In other words, when trying to please people, you really can’t win for losing, or lose for winning. Some advice if I may for those of you being led (that’s everyone), ask yourself, “Am I more willing to complain than I am to listen?” For leaders, are we more concerned with pleasing people and avoiding controversy or staying faithful knowing that in the end we won’t be answering to the whiners, complainers and big tithers?
2. Christian, if you are not simultaneously accused of being too legalistic and too lenient, you probably aren’t proclaiming the gospel as wholly and authoritatively as you ought to be. Grace really is a scandal, act like it. Grace isn’t what’s fair or even what’s just by people standards. Further, our Christ-likeness is something that is tangible. Meaning people must be able to see it, hear it, feel it, and taste it in us. This isn’t to say they will always like what you are serving up (they may even believe it isn’t really fruit) but they are going to taste it regardless.
3. On a similar note, when you begin to be accused of falling into both ditches on either side of the road at the same time, take comfort that this is nothing new. The self-righteous have had this problem with the gospel (and the gospel proclaimers) from the beginning.
4. Humility doesn’t require or even suggest you pretend you’re wrong if you aren’t. Consequently, (and this is where it gets a lot of folks) this is true whether you’re young or old. Whether 5 or 95 or 25, this applies.
5. Loving kindness isn’t inconsistent with anger. In fact, Paul commands us to “be angry” (Eph. 4:26). Following this thought through, loving the sheep means hating the wolves. And as it happens, hating the wolves means hating the wolves.
6. Speaking of love, Jesus said “Love your enemies”. There are at least two things we must learn from this statement. 1) We are to love our enemies. 2) We really have enemies.
7. Controlling, self-righteous people don’t necessarily have a problem with differing beliefs. That is, until you start talking about them. And it really irks them when their views are directly challenged. It’s as if they don’t really trust that their beliefs can withstand a challenge, even if it is a simple question from a 12 year old.
8. Controlling, self-righteous people are willing to turn a blind eye to sin so long as it furthers and benefits their personal agendas.
9. Controlling, self-righteous people are delusional. I don’t say this to be mean or rude although I understand it most certainly will be perceived that way. I simply mean these kinds of folks are willing to viciously justify their own personal sinfulness if they can convince themselves it is for some “noble, greater good.” In some cases the strong delusion (from God) is so pervasive that the person begins to actually believe the lies are the truth.
10. When the disciples asked Jesus if they should pray for fire to fall on the city that rejected Him, they asked and revealed what is in all of our hearts that we must repent of.
11. Folks will generally accuse you of being and doing the very thing they are being and doing (1 Kings 18:17). I like to think of this as the log and speck principle.
12. People have a tendency to pity those whom they assume or perceive to have been wronged. This isn’t in itself bad, however, one of the traps that is easy to fall into is that of assigning blame or guilt based solely on whom you pity. It is easier to judge a situation based on a gut feeling or assumption rather than on actual information. I believe this is why it is common for folks to assign some degree of blame to everyone involved when a big, messy controversy occurs.
13. Lack of strong headship, which is itself a sin (cf. Adam and Eve) in a home and in a church will result in messy, sinful dysfunction. Consequently, this messy, sinful dysfunction will not even begin to be addressed and corrected until the headship issue is addressed and corrected. There’s no point trying to fix a problem downstream when the cause of that problem is upstream. The sad reality is that many of the instigators should have been disciplined by their shepherds for their rebellious sin long before the situation became so rife. One this note, I must also add that this is why it is so important to walk humbly, always ready to receive correction.
14. A proper understanding of authority (Mt. 8:9-10) is extremely helpful when it comes to our faith and our faithfulness. Let me reiterate the point I just made above. Citizens are under authority of their government. Children are under the authority of their parents. Wives are under the authority of their husbands (or should be). Christians in general are under the authority of the elders in their local congregation. The elders and the parishioners alike are under the authority of the Scripture which means that those under authority may alway appeal if need be to a higher authority. Ultimately we are all under Christ who is the head of the Church and it is this ultimate headship of Christ that does not negate all other authority, but rather establishes all other authority.
15. Public hypocrisy demands public confrontation. Public sin demands public rebuke. There are many examples from the scriptures to site but I will only reference one. I believe the best example of the point is Jesus’ public sacrifice and humiliation for man’s public and pervasive sin. Jesus asked His Father if He could just say a prayer, forgive us and be done. Jesus asked if He could forgo the public spectacle but the Father didn’t relent. Why, because the Father is sadistic? Of course not! The nature of our offense demanded a like sentence. This remedy was the only appropriate way to deal with our disease. Cough syrup will not do when what you need is chemo.
16. The folks who have been the instigators of this controversy and split knowingly or unknowingly do not hold the scriptures as their highest and final authority. This is a bold claim for me to make so here is the justification. These folks have not fulfilled even the most basic command of scripture in how to deal with offense or perceived sin in others. All kinds of excuses were made as to why they didn’t need to or why it wasn’t necessary for them to obey these commands. Consequently these excuses have become these folks’ highest and final authority. These excuses trumped the clear and unequivocal commands and teachings of Christ (Mt. 18:15-35) to go to your brother who has “sinned” against you and to seek reconciliation.
17. You can tell a lot more about a person by how they leave a church rather than how they join one… Or start one.
18. The inheritance of liars is the lake that burns with fire (Rev. 21:8). This should strike fear in many who have been a direct cause of this controversy and split. If God affords you to feel this fear and trembling, rejoice that He has given you a heart of flesh that can feel and perhaps granted you repentance. Repent of your lying slander and trust in Christ.
Like I said earlier, I have plenty more to say but for now this will do. This mess is still unfolding. It is by no means resolved. As much as you at CFC or you at your new beginning (thanks for taking time to read this by the way) may like this all to just disappear—just go away with the good old medicine of time, know that that isn’t how the world that God made works. Go ahead, try and forget. Wallow in your selfishness that wants to push this sinful controversy down the road for future generations to have to deal with. We have already seen by the shameful actions of apparently disgruntled CFC members who have left years ago that sin can’t just be forgotten away. The lesson for all of us: repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is here. The harvest is ready and the King is awaiting his harvesters.