Dear Church: Hear the Word of the Lord
Dear Church: Hear the Word of the Lord
The church is suffering greatly – by her own hands. Self-injury, whether by individuals or institutions, invariably involves faulty thinking that is born out of self-deception. Many of us are grieved at the wreckage in the church that occurs when victims are silenced, abusers are protected, power is abused and “truth” is disseminated to the less powerful. The body of our Lord is sick. Here are some thoughts for her.
To begin with, it is important to remember that all power is derivative. The power that is inherent in one’s position, gifting, knowledge, verbal ability, or spiritual authority has one source – all power comes from Christ. He said, “All power is given to me in heaven and on earth…” It is not ours; it is his and is to be used in accord with his word and his character. He who had all power never used it to feed on a vulnerable person, to increase his stature or to protect himself. Any power we have is his and is to be used to bless others with his grace and truth.
Second, God is ever and always, with no shadow or turning, both light and truth. He is truth. He is light. Light exposes the truth. It exposes beauty and horror. Clean and filthy. And truth always calls what is exposed by its right name. “White-washed tombs full of dead men’s bones” is both exposure and truth. To cover-up or even slightly shade, deceive or rename anything the light exposes is ungodly. The Light does not flinch. The Truth does not water down. You see it is only light and truth together that expose the cancer; call it by its right name and enable healing to occur.
Third, light and truth require transparency- which simply means letting light pass through so that what is hidden can be distinctly seen. Transparency is the opposite of complicity which means to be folded up with. That means when sin is named light is needed. We do not like it. Neither did Adam and Eve whose immediate response was to hide. We prefer hiding and damage control. God calls us to the truth and light of transparency. Transparency protects both alleged victims and alleged predators from the horrific burden of lies. A transparent process protects truth for all. When those in power attempt to dissemble in order to protect an institution they are no longer accomplishing damage control. They are causing damage – damage to God’s precious sheep and damage to the name of our God –this, in the name of protecting the house of the Lord. That is what the Israelites said in Jeremiah – “the Temple of the Lord” – all the while throwing their children, the vulnerable ones, into the fire of Moloch. God’s response was to destroy the temple system he ordained and designed and cast his people across the earth.
Fourth, words matter significantly. To call alleged victims liars is an attempt to determine outcome without knowledge. We are to call things by their right name. And as people of the Book we acknowledge that the human heart is utterly deceitful and our own is incomprehensible to us. That means we do not trust our own motives and hearts. It means we do not automatically assume our leaders, no matter how beloved, are telling the truth. And we certainly do not assume the vulnerable ones are liars.
Fifth, oh we say, but what about God’s grace and mercy? It is indeed vast and I am utterly grateful that I can stand in that myself. However, grace and mercy never, under any circumstances, tolerate sin – for it is the terminal illness that is slaughtering humanity – people God knit together, loves and died for. He will not budge an inch when that disease has a toehold in any human being. Cancer multiplies and spreads and kills. One cell is too much. Tearful apologies are not sufficient – only radical surgery. We fail to love those who abuse when we do not grasp this truth. Sin, like cancer, starts small and spreads and treatment knocks a life over. God’s love and mercy, like that treatment, will do the same.
Sixth, God’s people are called to humility. That means church leaders must recognize the potential for bias that is inherent in their positions. A fundamental understanding of our own capacity for self-deception requires that we avail ourselves the independent scrutiny of those that are not part of the institution .That also means we see that all power is derivative and that any power used to feed the self in some fashion is not godly – no matter the attendance numbers, the money coming in, the books published, the gifting, the brilliance or any other thing. Humility bends down, becomes like, leaves glory, washes feet and ever and only listens to the voice of the Father no matter the cost.
Finally, dear vulnerable ones, those used, silenced, and cast aside – know that Jesus is often not like his church. He loves and calls us to truth and light, transparency and right naming. He himself is the one who bends to tend and care for you when his church does not. He weeps – not only over you and your suffering at the hands of those who name his name – but also over his church saying, as he did over Jerusalem: “If you had known the things that make for your peace…my house has become a den of robbers.”
Merciful God… thank-you.
This is so good! So much wisdom here. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for all the work you do advocating for survivors of abuse.
Superb reminders to ALL of us!
What an outstanding open-letter to the church. As a survivor of sex abuse in the church, I was labeled a liar, and excommunicated. He continued to pastor that church until his death a few years ago. Nothing was ever done, even once it was revealed I was one of many over the years. It took a great deal of counseling and deliverance to be able to walk free as I do today. I’m so glad to finally see the church beginning to deal with the filth, for until they do, where will the world GO when they need the healing only Jesus provides?
Bless your heart, Diane, thank you for taking the time to write and share this, it’s prophetic truth for today’s institutional church and for the Ekklesia… stay strong in the Lord and in His mighty power, by the presence of the Holy Spirit living in you! Your sister in the Lord…
Thank you for your insight and discernment.
Wonderful and clear! Thank you so much for your willingness to speak into this crime. It gives me courage and hope!
I really appreciate this article.
Humility/servant-hood/leadership.It is so important they go together.
Beautifully put and exactly right. Thank you for your work.
This is what the church needs to hear. There is so much carnage in the church, caused by petty grudges, power trips, and pride, such that the Church has little room to point the finger at the culture.
Whether the church merely tolerates or winks at abuse, fails to properly discipline the flagrantly unrepentant, seeks to silence anyone who might call for greater transparency and accountability in all matters, or willingly inflicts harm on its own sheep or even shepherds in the name of “purity and peace,” the root sin is the same: pride. When leaders have an end in mind that is anti-biblical (for example an illusion of peace/unity or an illusion theological soundness) they will sacrifice anyone, whole covenant families even, to achieve that end. Any goal or desire that requires the removal from community of covenant people who are a potential threat to that desire is, in fact, demonic.
Spot on!!!!! Sad. But true. May God have mercy for the slaughter done to multitudes by pride controlled leaders.
Definitely believe that which you stated. Your favorite reason appeared to be on the internet the easiest thing to be aware of.
I say to you, I certainly get annoyed while people think about
worries that they just don’t know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without having side effect ,
people can take a signal. Will probably be back to get more.