Equipping Your Reimagine Journey
For the past 6 or 8 weeks, a number of us have felt an increased spiritual attack on the church. Over the years we’ve become more familiar with these attacks, and whenever this happens I always watch closely for the signs, the evidence, of what scheme the enemy may be employing to bring spiritual damage to those in the body, and to the church here in our town (see 2Cor 2:11).
It didn’t take long to see the effects of the enemy’s work this time around. Suddenly, we have a rash of ‘offenses’ in the church. The ones I’m aware of indicate an abnormal amount of trouble in this area, and I’m sure there are others I’m not aware of. Often, those involved in these types of offenses are not even aware of the spiritual warfare aspects of what they’re dealing with.
One person becomes the offender. Often, they have offended unintentionally, but even if they do know, they can easily explain or justify their actions, often using the Bible to do so. And then, there’s the other person, the one who feels offended. This person is usually certain that they have a good right to be hurt and upset.
Most often, what happens is this; the offender just goes on about their business, usually unaware that they have caused any offense. But the offended lives with the offense. It begins to simmer, then boil. The roots of the offense go deeper with each passing week. Until suddenly, the enemy scores a victory. The offended person usually leaves the church, sometimes doing additional damage on the way out by sharing their feelings with others. They usually leave feeling very justified. After all, they were offended, they were hurt. And the person who hurt them doesn’t even seem to care (the truth is, most often the person who hurt them doesn’t even know).
And here’s what usually happens next; the person who caused the offense continues to cause similar offenses in the church, generally because they are unaware that they are offending. And the person who left offended, is often the enemy’s prize, his victory. The offended person will simmer in that offense for a long time. And then they’ll have to let it out, so they’ll tell their side of the story to others, expanding the spiritual damage fallout from the event. In both cases – both with the offender remaining in the church unaware, and the offended leaving the church . . . in both cases, the enemy wins.
We’ve seen the enemy win these victories a lot in our church. All churches have seen this type of enemy victory. But it doesn’t have to be like this. We don’t have to be so easily used by the enemy, either as the offender or the offended. But in order to not become easy prey, we’ve got to change how we see things, and how we do things. We’ve got to change how we approach conflict and offense.
The Bible is full of God’s guaranteed way to stop these enemy victories in the church. But sadly, most often when an offense is occurring, the offender doesn’t know they are offending, and the offended is usually running on pure emotion. They’re responding to being hurt, and generally that means they are not responding Biblically. Surprisingly, the Bible is very seldom even brought into these offense situations, which ensures the enemy’s victory.
Allow me to take you though just one Bible text. At Calvary Nuevo this text is called our ‘Foundation for Leadership’;
Colossians 3:12–15 (nlt)
12 Since (in response to the fact that) God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must(an emphatic command) clothe yourselves (live this way) with tenderhearted mercy (not giving someone what they deserve), kindness (desire to do good for a person), humility (not thinking of yourself), gentleness (not being harsh), and patience (suffering with a person for a long time).
13 Make allowance for each other’s faults (read that again), and forgive anyone who offends you (read that again, twice). Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others (make the comparison, how much have you offended Christ, compared to how much that other person has offended you. Christ forgave you, you must forgive them).
14 Above all (over all these things), clothe yourselves with love (live in agape, unconditional sacrificial love), which binds us all together in perfect harmony (Jesus prayed this for us in Jn 17, so that the world around us would believe).
15 And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts (the word rule means to act as an umpire. let the peace that comes from Christ make your decisions). For as members of one body you are called to live in peace (Your physical body is designed to function without conflict, and so is the body of Christ). And always (constantly) be thankful.
Our Foundation for Leadership text actually goes through verse 17, but these 4 verses are enough for today. Please take the time to genuinely meditate on these verses. Ask God how these verses apply to very specific areas, and people, in your life. Make these verses your prayer, and a prayer for this body.
If you are involved in an offense and know it, get a good, mature, experienced spiritual mentor to walk you through the offense according to God’s Word. This does not mean talk to your best friend who will get just as upset about it as you are. You’ve got to get to a mature, experienced mentor, who will use only the Bible to counsel you.
If you might be involved in an offense that you are not aware of, meaning you might be the unknowing offender; watch the people around you carefully, ask God to reveal to you anyone who may be showing signs of being offended, and then reach out to them in love. With the help of a mature, experienced spiritual mentor we can stop being used by the enemy to offend others.
Please don’t take these offenses lightly. This is one of the enemies easiest, and most successful, tools, and he uses it to bring spiritual damage into your life, and into the life of the church. Most of all, DON’T RUN. Don’t allow your fleshly emotions, stirred up by the enemy, to get you to leave the church for greener pastures. You will either end up in another church with the exact same sinners, or, as often happens, you will drift away from church all together. If that happens, the enemy has won a major victory.
Ephesians 6:10–12 (nlt)
10 A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.
11 Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil.
12 For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.
With love and a commitment to unity,