Recently I met two young men and had great conversations. Through the conversations I got to know that one of them got a deep hurt from a church to which he belonged as he was a college student and the other got disappointed by bad behaviors of the church-goers since he was an elementary student. The hurt and the disappointment seemed so deep that they are still breathing negativity in their hearts. I felt sorry toward them even if I am not the one that hurt or disappointed them but as a Christian. I wanted so badly to help them to get out of the hurts.
I pondered to figure out a way to help them and thought it would be good to write down my heart and thought regarding it. They may read it and get help. I believe consoling and helping them to be healed of the wounds must be the first thing to do to help them. It took a while to start the writing actually because it was not easy to find right words for them. Even now I am not too sure that this writing would be helpful to them. I really hope this would, at least, not make it worse.
Love and Truth
The first thing I want to do before going on is to remind all of us, the readers and me as well, that the ultimate truth is love and nothing else can be a truth without love. Jesus Christ our Lord died for love; God saves us for he loves us; and the Holy Spirit works in us to bear the fruit of love. In one word, it is because God is love. Therefore, what God teaches his people to do is to have love, what he is pleased with his people is when they love one another, and what he will see into the life of a person on the day of judgment is if he or she has lived by love. Love is the foundation of all things and it should be the way of doing all things (1 Cor. 16:14). Any good thing or any righteousness can’t be right if it is not done by love. So, love is the ultimate truth and Christianity and Christian life are all about love as the Origin and Father of them is love.
Nevertheless, even with the supreme significance of love, it is susceptible. This susceptibility is in two different senses: it is very easily replaced or put aside by other things and it is pretended and disguised very easily to achieve a hidden purpose. When love is taken advantage of by someone, it gives birth to fake love. The fake love, as love is the most significant Christian virtue that all people hope for, hurts and disappoints people deepest. The cut by the disguised love is much deeper than that by the sharpest knife. It leaves a scar in the soul while a knife, in the skin. The cut in the soul heals very slowly and in some cases it never heals. To avoid getting cut, or to get healed from a cut already made, we have to understand the susceptibility of love.
Susceptibility of Love
First, we have to understand that love can’t be replaced or substituted by anything. Many say that truth is more important than love. They say they can’t love one unless the one agrees to their truth. They wash brains of their followers, saying that teaching their truth to one is to love the one. For them, as the one accepts their truth, their love is done to the one. However, if the one doesn’t accept their truth, they take it as a rejection to their love. They became hostile to the one. They give up on the one or they hate the one as if he or she is an enemy to their truth. However, what they believe as a truth is not a truth, whatever it may be and however right it sounds. You know why? There is no truth that is not based on love and that can be practiced without love (1 Cor. 13:2). It is their illusion that they are teaching and doing a truth. What they are actually doing is to force people to be like them and to be on their side. It is just burning themselves at their own flame and attempting to burn others too. They have no respect for their listeners, which is indispensable for genuine love. As it is no genuine true love, it can’t be a truth. Their life is an error and mistake. They are just being consumed by evil, which deceived them.
This kind of substitution or replacement of love with something else, most often, with their own ‘truth’, happens in churches. They replace or substitute love, the true truth, with their doctrines and dogmas, which are for them ‘truths’. They are deceived by the evil one and sincerely believe that relating their truths to others and convert them into what they believe is the greatest love. They fight for their fake love, which is never a love because true love always makes peace. They condemn those who don’t agree with them, thinking they are doing a service to God and people (John 16:2), which is never a service but a disservice. Their church is based on their own truths, which means they don’t have the true foundation, which is the truth of God that is based on love. They think they are carriers of truth as they get more and more people who are deceived by their falsity. However, there is no tie that ties them together in mind, which is love. In their house, quarreling and fighting noises never stop. They are building their house on the sand to devastate souls. Nevertheless, they believe they are in truth and in love. They are totally depraved and lost in mind. They are so deceived and washed in the brain by their own ‘truths’ that they can’t understand the truth that love can’t be replaced or substituted by anything, including a truth.
Not to get deceived and hurt by the fake love, we also have to understand another susceptibility of love. It is that love can be disguised and pretended. Love should be genuine and something else should not be taken as it. Unfortunately, however, genuine love is rare. Furthermore, it is not always easy to detect the disguise and pretense. It is difficult because love is a moral virtue but not a legal must. If one loves others, he or she easily gets a great credit. Love almost always gets credit easily as it is rare and precious. People and society give much more other credits upon it—such as respect and social credits. The credit gotten for love is a big temptation and some evil hearts don’t miss the chance to take advantage of the susceptibility of love. They pretend to love to get what they want. It is a fraud, and that, an easy one.
Where this evil fraudulent scheme is used most often is in churches. The classic expectation of people of the church is to love people. The expectation makes it more probable that the fraud may be made by the churches. As they expect such, it is more probable that people are deceived by churches. Most of these churches also take advantage of the other susceptibility mentioned above along with this one. They disguise their heart with love and they do their doctrine with truth. Their double sided pretense makes their fraud more successful. They easily get what they intended to get from those who are deceived. Absurdly this kind of churches are also protected by the constitutional law in the name of religious freedom.
The consequence of their frauds is fatal. The deceived people got hurt deep in their souls and waste opportunities to be saved. Even if they realize that they were deceived, many of them blame God and the church for their hurt. The fraud is successful in two ways: For the wicked people, they got what they wanted and, for the evil one, he devastated the souls. Even if the deceiving people thought they were doing a service to God, the result is that they did to the evil one. They helped the evil one with hindering God’s plan of salvation. The fatal consequence is not that only but it is also in those who would come to God. They were watching what the churches were doing and found that they were doing wrong and even hypocritical. So they got disappointed of God and of the church by the misrepresentation of the erroneous churches and fraudulent ministers and church-goers. As the result, disappointments about Christianity and Christians have gotten prevalent in all the world. Negativity toward the Christianity and Christians has become greater than ever; and it is going worse and worse as more and more frauds are made by the churches and church-goers. Christianity and Christians are pushed to the farthest corner. Evangelism has become toughest in this environment critical against Christianity. The evil one didn’t fail in this regard also.
Uphold the Beacon
As a Christian and evangelist in the church, I feel sorry not only for those who were victimized and disappointed but also against those fraudulent churches and their members. Unfortunately, feeling sorry of the true Christians is not a solution to the problem nor a true consolation to the people who got hurt. Besides, there seems not a good way to resolve this problem. Probably, only God has the solution. Nevertheless, there is at least one thing that true Christians can always do. It is not against the fake churches and their members but it is for the Lord and for people. It is to uphold the truth, which is loving people with genuine love through and through.
The fact that there are many frauds and as the result the world became more hostile to Christianity is not an excuse for Christians’ not upholding the gospel. It is naive to assume that the world would be friendly to the true church and Christians. There has never been such a time in history of the world. It is also naive not to expect that there would be no one who would take advantage of God, his name, his words, and his church. There are always wicked and sneaky people in all generations and they may take advantage of the church. In this materialistic and individualistic postmodern world, such evil is expected to be at every corner in the world. That is why it is the last time. There is no way to turn the world back truthful and friendly toward God. The only hope is still the gospel. There will always be people, few in number though, who will listen to it and obey it to be saved and added to the true Lord’s church; but most people will reject it and further ridicule it as always. Besides, some will always sneak into the church and make frauds to satisfy their worldly desires.
Despite the rejection and wickedness of the world against the gospel, still some have to uphold it so that the souls who desire for salvation may find solution. Those some people are the remnant, the saved, true Christians, and the Lord’s church. In this regard the Lord’s church is “a pillar and buttress of truth” (1 Tim. 3:15). The way that the Lord’s church upholds the truth of life is love. They love one another and they love others as Jesus loved sinners. They don’t quarrel or fight even against enemies of the gospel but rather serve them with love and prayer. Even when they were persecuted by the false church leaders and their blind followers, they never fought back but accepted persecutions, even cruel death, as the glory from God as their Lord Jesus did. They are small and weak in the world but strong and abundant in God. No power was ever able to crush them to nothing. They are the remnant whom God made existent all over the world since the gospel was preached, regardless of intensity of wickedness of the world. The Lord’s church has been existent in all generations without ceasing since it was established on the Day of Pentecost of the first century in Jerusalem. There have been so dreadful hostilities blown against the Lord’s church and Christians so many times in history, but none of them was successful to cease the continuation of the Lord’s church. Rather such a history testifies only the fact that the Lord’s church is in God’s plan of salvation and in his mighty hands.
Let the Beacon Burning
I am sorry that I can’t do anything to those who got hurt or disappointed by the churches and their blind followers, except this: I will stay here standing firm holding up the beacon of the truth of the gospel so that wounded souls, who want to be healed, may come to the Lord, and I will serve them in love. That is the only thing that I can do as a part of the Lord’s church. However, God will do the more; he will heal the souls and restore them. I don’t know who the wounded souls are and where they are, except some around me. So, what I will do is to quench the beacon of the gospel but let it burning that they may see it and come join the Lord’s church.
Brothers and sisters, who got hurt or disappointed by the churches. Look to Jesus and get recovery by the love of the Lord and Savior. However, never give your holy thing to dogs (Matt. 7:6). Your desire to be righteous or your hope to be saved is holy. If you go to the false churches and give it to their ministers who are like just dogs, they will defile your holy desire and then rob you of your valuable things too. Then they will turn to you and tear your soul leaving wounds and hurts all over your soul. Look only to the Lord and follow him. He will lead you by the truth to his church, that is the Lord’s church. Only in the Lord’s church, you can be peaceful and you can continue to grow to the fullness of Jesus. You will be loved by others as well as by the Lord; and you will love others as the Lord loves you. That is the truthful life; such life is full of the truth, which is culminated in love. Therefore, don’t stay any longer defeated, hurt and disappointed, and secluded from true Christians. Look for the Lord’s church and the true Christians around you. The Lord is stretching his arms out to you through them.