“There’s no place like home!” Dorothy made those words famous in the Wizard of Oz. And we all know it to be true. Ideally, there is no place more safe and secure than at home, among your family where you are loved and cared for.
God has ordained that whatever Church congregation you have joined, is your spiritual home until Jesus returns. The members of your congregation are your spiritual family, your brothers and sisters in the Lord. But all too often, when difficulties arise we look for a new church to attend. Usually, God would have us stay put, and mature through adversity.
So how often do Christians change churches because of a dispute, or we feel like we just don’t fit in? Perhaps we say we are not being fed spiritually. Maybe God would have the person who feels that way to do the feeding? Maybe some spiritual family member treated us badly. Many times the divide comes from some doctrinal difference, which in the end, has no real bearing upon salvation or the gospel of Christ.
I’m hoping to present this without giving the impression of finger pointing—Lord knows, I need grace from my spiritual family too. I’ve said and done some dumb things in the past, including changing churches for the wrong reasons.
We see it all too often today: people jumping ship when they realize everyone is not following the same spirit. In a perfect church everyone always agrees with each other and there’s nothing but love. But we all know: that perfect congregation does not exist.
I was that guy, hopping from church to church searching for the right one for me. It had to fit all of my requirements. It wasn’t until God put the thought in my heart that I needed to stop looking for the right church and simply look for a place where I could be of service to others. Rather than, a place that would satisfy my needs. What a tremendous difference this made. For a few years after finding my church home I still thought I was in the wrong church. Why aren’t these people doing what they supposed to do as Christians? I constantly wondered.
Many righteous people today work diligently for the Lord, yet they see little result or reward from their labors. Sadly, some are wearied from working alongside or beneath church leaders who seek to elevate themselves rather than Christ. I too have faced this dilemma in the past. I wanted to change churches and I asked God’s permission to do so many times. But every time He said, “NO!”
Wow, was I ever miserable. Until I finally submitted and said, “Yes Lord.”
I needed to simply remain humble, submit to God, and submit to the leaders who were over me. I had to trust the outcome to the Lord. My leaders had been selecting who they wanted to edify and support, while leaving myself and others out in the cold. They wanted followers for themselves, who would heed their every whim. Oh they did it subtly and covertly, of course. It looked to me as if they were trying to take the place of Christ as head of the church. They would nefariously hold down or suppress those they felt were a threat to their own exaltation. Part of that included refusing to facilitate the obvious spiritual gifts God had given to others. But in so doing, they sabotaged themselves, along with the entire congregation. Every believer’s gifts are for the purposes of edifying their spiritual family—building up their fellow church members, while bringing glory to God. Those church leaders would have been highly exalted by God, had they themselves submitted.
Thank God I did as He directed so that I could learn of His power and ability to transform hearts and lives!
Sometimes the answer may be to change the church family you work with. Far more often, God wants to use that hardship to grow you, and to teach you what diligent and faithful patience will bring.
- Trust God to work in that situation.
- Simply serve others, love and forgive (this is serving Christ).
- Reverse lead your leaders. Perhaps you are there to lead by example, even though the ones you may be leading have been placed in a position above you.
David experienced similar things from his predecessor. Just think of David’s righteous example to King Saul and his followers. Listen to his words in Psalm 37.
Verse 1: “Fret not yourself because of evil doers, neither be envious against the workers of iniquity.”
Take comfort in knowing that God sees your dilemma. He watches over you and takes note of your faithful work for Christ. Continue following Him. We are learning to love the unlovable, and forgive the ugliness, just as God loves and forgives us.
Verse 2: “For they shall soon be cut down like the grass and wither as the green herb.”
Yes, we are applying this to leaders of the church, whose hearts may only be half on Christ. Maybe their love is simply lukewarm. Remember, it was the religious leaders of Jesus’ day who drew His harshest criticisms. But even some of them became true followers of our Lord Jesus. Nicodemus comes to mind. Love them through it. Kill the bad with kindness and save the good in them.
Consider this: If you leave that church, how will the innocents of that congregation ever see the light of truth, having only ego driven leaders? Or leaders whose hearts are not fully set on Christ? What about the others? They need you and your example!
Pray for your leaders. And love them through their spiritual obstacles. Watch God work through your faithfulness and your prayers. Watch His mighty love work and watch how wonderfully He reconciles each one of His children to Himself.
Verse 3: Trust in the Lord, and do good; so shall you dwell in the land and verily you shall be fed.
Continue to trust God for your advancement, and for the freedom to use those God given gifts for the building up of others in the church. You shall be fed and nourished up in Christ; our spiritual sustenance. Wait for God to vindicate you and He will lift you up.
The dilemmas I faced at a particular church, which I will not name, have since been resolved. Oh there are still disagreements and possibly we can get on each other’s nerves at times…but isn’t that the same with all families?
You are not free to choose your biological family. Neither are you free to choose your spiritual family in Christ (a particular congregation).
The Spirit of Christ (Holy Spirit) adds you to His church. And then, He is the one who leads you and dictates which spiritual family you will grow among. What an epiphany that was when God first revealed it to me!
Be certain you are walking in the Spirit and following God’s direction when selecting a church home. Then stick with it, for better or worse. But in Christ, it always gets better.