If you are the victim of lies, then you know the damage that is done to you. Tarnished reputations, loss of business or finances, and, in some cases, alienation from those who you consider family and friends are just a few of the repercussions for the victim.
If you are the liar, you may think that you are innocent. Prolific liars often convince themselves that what they are saying is true; in fact, they become so good at it that they can take the truth and twist and turn it to make it say whatever they want it to say even to the point of creating false documents or photos with just the click of a few computer buttons. While they think they are getting away with something, all they have succeeded in doing is making themselves untrustworthy.
However, a great damage is done when Christians lie. We, the church, have a serious problem on our hands.
If you have followed our ministry at all, or read other of my posts, you may have caught that we deal with the worst of the worst in church situations. When Dan’s phone rings, it is often because the pastor and/or church have come to a breaking point. All too often in the last decade or so, the trouble is with the tongue of someone in the church.
I am not exactly sure when it occurred, but the church went through a beautification program on the word “lying”. We now call it “gossip”. Rarely do we hear it preached against. Nonetheless, the world has been and is watching. I know this. How? Because one of the things we do is to talk to the locals to gain an understanding of the community-thought regarding the distraught church. You see, once a church has lost its testimony, it becomes ineffective.
How is a church’s testimony damaged? Through the actions and words of the church members. Many of the situations we have dealt with were in small towns. Often, it is after the church has gone through a battle that we learned the truth. It never is good for the church members.
In several situations, we had been inviting those in the community to particular churches. It was after a church blow up in each church that we learned why those individuals would not visit for an outreach event or services. Here are just a few of the statements we have heard.
- “Now that all this has happened, we just wanted you to know that we didn’t visit because so-and-so attended there. All they do is run down the church they attend. I didn’t want to say anything because I was afraid of stirring up trouble.”
- “I didn’t visit because several of the members there have done me wrong in business. I can’t trust them.”
- “I didn’t visit because so-and-so works for me. I knew he went to church there and he is one of the worst employees I have.”
- “I couldn’t understand how you could go to that church. The people (listing several names) are nothing but troublemakers in the office, school, or community. They are always running their mouths.”
What a tremendous testimony these churches had!! (read dripping with sarcasm)
It still strikes me that these unsaved men and women have more scruples about them than the “Christians” who are supposed to be living a life exemplifying Christ.
Unfortunately, those that these statements were made about were the very ones who caused the blow-ups in the churches. These were the ones to set themselves up in leadership in the power vacuum following the blow-ups. These were the ones who had purported themselves for years to be something they were not. These men and women had so described themselves as “somebodies” in the communities in which they lived that the pastors were concerned of losing people if they addressed their sin issues; the pastors feared the bad things they might say about them or the church. (This should have been the first clue there was a problem.) What these pastors did not know was that they were losing far more people who refused even to visit the church because of these people. They were known to be members there, and not in a good way.
Sadly, those churches, as others like them, are a stumbling block to the cause of Christ in those communities. Witnessing to those in the general public has become so difficult. Many say that “if that is the way Christians act, I don’t want anything to do with it. Even I don’t act like that.” They have caused a hardness that others are now having to combat. It has created ripple effects into other churches as well as these liars have emboldened others to assume power and position that is not theirs Biblically to have.
I keep hearing people use this catch phrase: The church is a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints. Why would a sinner want to attend a church to seek help for their sin-sick soul when members of the church have no discretion in repeating everyone else’s problems? We have HIPAA laws to protect our medical privacy. Do we really need those in the church as well? It sends a signal to those hurting and needing help that the church cannot be trusted.
Then, we have church against church, and pastor against pastor tearing one another down. Is it any wonder that the world has a serious distrust of religion and those who supposedly represent it?
There has been a breach of trust. Once trust is broken, it is extremely difficult to repair. In taking counseling classes, we learned that for every negative a person experiences, it takes 5 to 20 positives to overcome it; to rebuild that trust. Lying, gossiping, talebearing, telling a little white lie… whatever it is called must be stopped. And, it must be addressed in the home and in the church. We do not know the time that the Lord will return, so we must live each day as if it were today. How wonderful to be speaking to a lost and dying world of our Heavenly Father when Christ returns rather than tearing down a fellow brother or sister in Christ.
We need to be ever so careful with our words and our actions. We are not alone in this world. We, as Christians, are here to be a light. That light is snuffed out each time Christians run their mouths about others. Believe it or not, the world does expect us to act in accordance with the Bible that we claim to follow.
photo credit: photopin.com