This week I read a tirade by a Christian minister against a group of prominent TV teachers and while I don’t watch this group myself, I knew this screed would only bring judgment on the critic.
Years ago Bob Mumford warned us about criticizing a man’s wife. Even if the man is not especially happy with his wife, he won’t approve your lambasting her – after all, she was HIS choice. In the same way, it is not a good idea to criticize God’s choice in His people and his ministers. We are, eventually, the Bride of Christ and His Choice. We’d best not be giving God grief about his “wife.”
There is an obscure scripture about this issue which few preach on, but it is appropriate here.
1 Corinthians 11:29-32 (PHILLIPS) No, a man should thoroughly examine himself, and only then should he eat the bread or drink of the cup. He that eats and drinks carelessly is eating and drinking a judgment on himself, for he is blind to the presence of the Lord’s body.
30 It is this careless participation which is the reason for many feeble and sickly Christians in your church, and the explanation of the fact that many of you are spiritually asleep.
31-32 If we were closely to examine ourselves beforehand, we should avoid the judgment of God. But when God does judge us, he disciplines us as his own sons, that we may not be involved in the general condemnation of the world.
One way you can be blind to the presence of the Lord’s Body is to deny certain people communion, either as a minister, or as a congregation, or yourself. It’s bad enough when the devil attacks the believers; we should not be joining in. Roman Catholics do this as a matter of practice.
Congregations today are a mixture of true and false. But we are told that as the end draws near, the angels will separate false from true and when Jesus returns the false wheat burns up in fires while the true wheat is stored in its own barn, ready to feed a dying world.
Meanwhile we are told to keep quiet about our opinions. If there is a false teacher among us, we are told to preach the Word of God and let the flock make up its own mind. Trees are known by their fruits, not their toots.
In 1987 I attended a conference at a church in Indiana. The minister complained endlessly about the fellow ministers who called him a “false prophet” and many other not-so-nice names. I was struck by the bitter unforgiveness in his heart. When King David was cursed by Shemei he brushed it off, saying, perhaps the Lord has sent him. David went along his way as though nothing had happened. But this man was a dump of invective.
Three years later I met a man from Ohio who knew this minister personally; he had died abruptly. I can’t say it was any shock to me. Joyce Meyer defines unforgiveness this way – “taking poison to kill someone else, but it kills you.” People in the ministry know that forgiveness heals and unforgiveness kills.
I have another friend who sees at least 2 doctors a week. She is in constant pain most of the time, BUT she never attends church. She has disobeyed the command to “not forsake coming together with believers.” Without a church, neither can she take communion; many people are healed in a communion service. She never fasts; fasting can bring about healing. She is not recognizing the Lord’s Body, esp. as it relates to the communion bread and wine.
Another case of not recognizing the Lord’s Body occurred recently when a minister told some teenagers they could no longer work helping the AV ministry. NO explanation was given. These young men are (I know them) true believers and an asset to the congregation. Shabby treatment by the senior pastor means he does not know who he is messing with. This man also has no group of four persons to whom he answers – he is the top dog and the only dog in his church. His behavior borders on a mental condition.
Nothing speaks of failure more than a “lone ranger” minister. There is a long line of ministerial failures; about every ten years a truly scandalous event comes along to expose a prominent minister who is siting alone on the top of a pile. It happened to King David!
Isolation from the Body of Christ can and does lead to misery, and sickness.