Collateral damage: Hurting the little ones

Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck and he were drowned in the depth of the sea…. Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you, that in heaven their angels always behold the face of My Father who is in heaven.  (Matthew 18:6,10)

A friend texted this with an all-too familiar story.

The church has just run off a good pastor for no apparent reason other than the so-called powers wanted him gone.  When a little senior lady stood to protest and declare love for her pastor, she was ordered to sit down and be quiet.  Off to the side sat a young couple who did not stand up and protest, but who were grieving.  Their story, I was told, involves the pastor reaching her for Christ when she was  about to give birth out of wedlock.  In time, as a member of the church,  she married a fine young man and they had a child of their own.  They’ve been growing in the Lord, and they love their pastor devotedly.  Then suddenly–with no warning–they had the privilege of seeing him  brutally mistreated by a few church members who refuse to be accountable. Their beloved pastor was gone and no reasons were given.

No one cared about the senior lady and no one cares for the young family.  They are merely collateral damage.

Thus the Lord’s church gets mauled by the bullies and the “little ones who believe in Me,” as our Lord called them, are despised and abandoned.

There will be a reckoning, friend.  Mark it down in big letters.  The end of this story has yet to be written.

I will say that some people who are having their way now are going to find the Lord of the Church is unhappy with them.  I would not be in their shoes for all the money in the world.

Does it matter to these people?

What goes on in the minds of the church bosses, one wonders, as they go about their bullying tactics of running off well-loved pastors and running slipshod over the little ones whose only reason for being there is their love for Jesus?

–Do they care?  As the bigshots  play the role of generals planning battles, do they decide that certain numbers of fatalities are inevitable and that the little people are expendable?

–Or, is it possible  they lie awake at night worrying over the lives they have disrupted?

My own strong conviction is that these people–the church bullies who rule with a strong hand, hiring pastors and firing ministers as they please, running roughshod over the membership–are atheists.  Yes, some can cite a conversion time and some can pray beautiful prayers.  But by their harsh actions toward the Lord’s Bride  they are demonstrating a complete lack of faith in the living God.  They are proceeding as though there will be no accounting, as though they will not ever have to stand before a Holy God and face the things they have done.

Whatever they believe, they are practicing atheism.

Here’s what our Lord said about those who would be harassing God’s people in the days to come…

These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble.  They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service.  And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me.

And then He added:

These things I have told you, that when the time comes, you may remember that I told you of them.  (John 16:1-4).

I think it was Andrew Murray who said the most fearsome thought he had ever had was his accountability to God.

One could wish everyone felt the same.

I know a pastor who served churches all his adult life.  When his final church celebrated his retirement with a great gift and a lovely send-off, he and his wife closed the door on their ministry. Then, he did the most stunning thing.  He left his wife and ran off with the lady who had been his secretary.  Divorced the long-suffering lady who had seen him through good and bad and married the younger woman.

Twenty years later, I see them occasionally.  They look fine, happy, contented.  But what no one sees  are the ones hurt by what they did: the abandoned wife, the church members wounded by the poor example from their former pastor, the community at large losing faith in all pastors, and the name of Jesus.

When David sinned with Bathsheba, he thought it was a private thing between the two of them. But as it escalated, in order to, ahem, protect his image, he arranged for the death of her husband. And this, mind you, was a man called “God’s anointed.”

Eventually, the prophet Nathan confronted David with his sin.  David was surprised to learn that his sins had caused far greater damage than he had ever imagined.  God said to David:

–You have despised My word (2 Samuel 12:9).

–You have despised Me (2 Samuel 12:10).

–You have injured your family (“the sword shall never depart from your house”) (2 Samuel 12:10).

–You have delighted the outsiders (who are always glad to find dirt on God’s choice servants), and given them reason to blaspheme God’s Name (2 Samuel 12:14).

Let no one think that his/her sin is a private matter.

The good news, thankfully, is that our righteousness is far more far-reaching than our sins.  “The lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting to those who fear Him and His righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his commandments…” (Psalm 103:17).  When Exodus 34:6-7 says God “keeps chesedh (lovingkindness) for thousands,” we are told this means thousands of generations.

My faithfulness today will bless all who come after me.  Thank you, Lord.



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