Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I would not be a member of what I formerly referred to as church. I was always involved in music or youth ministry. In the former word of faith assembly I was a praise and worship leader, involved in dance ministry, youth ministry, women’s ministry, and marriage ministry. In COGIC was a up and coming missionary!
Here I am in 2013 walking a path no one, and I mean no one, would have imagined for me.
Leaving an assembly often makes one a social pariah. Some in the organized church refer to this exclusion as shunning, dis-fellowshipping, or ex-communicating. This is not the rule, but it seems to be very common across many denominations. Some non-Christian groups are extreme in their shunning by forbidding current member from any contact from ex-members regardless of relationship (parents against children, children against parents, sibling against sibling, etc.) But, this article is not about the extremist.
Some leaders have been very bold in telling their members to not have any type of fellowship with individuals who have the audacity to depart from them. Others, not so bold. But this message is slowly sown into the minds of lost sheep by subtle manipulation.
The subtle message could be about how people do not want to submit to authority. The message could also be how your spiritual growth is based on you grasping the vision of the assembly. I heard a leader tell his followers they were not there to get the word, but to fulfill the leader’s vision. And if they got some word, that was a bonus. What an arrogant position for someone who is supposed to be a servant leader.
In cases where I’ve heard and/or experienced this behavior, it took place in an assembly where an individual leaves and they’re name is never mentioned again. Sadly, I know this for a fact because I was a perpretrator. In most organized churches, it’s a game of “follow the leader.” If the leader(s) do not mention that person’s name, you’ll learn that you shouldn’t either.
There may be individuals who’ll start speculating why someone left. Most times, the stories are salacious, negative, or down-right malicious. On top of that, throw on a sermon about surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals or saints who are at a higher level than you. Of course, you’re not going to think of the people who left. How daaaare they leave? Something must be wrong with them. But I digress.
Leaving an assembly is one thing, but to leave and speak out against false teaching makes you a public enemy of the organized church. Once you decided to speak out against a false teacher/teaching, you need to understand that people, regardless of denomination, are going to despise you. You can and will lose long-time friendships, new friendships, potential friendships, and family. In worst cases, you can lose your spouse!
Remember, the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. Flesh does not want to believe his theology is compromised. Some individuals idolatrous love for the system will have them tell you to get over the deception and move on. They will tell you each person has to come to the truth on their own. It is their ignorance of scripture that leads them to think you are doing something wrong. The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. These individuals will say Jesus is the only way with their mouth, but their lives scream of ecumenism.
These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught. Isaiah 29:13
You are not just coming against a man; you are coming against their king, their idol, and their god.
Your character and motives will be attacked. But you need to choose this day whom you will serve.
Are you willing to deny self and take up your cross? It’s past time to reject the traditions of man and stand for the simple gospel of the Christ, the Son of the living God.
TEST THEM: Believe not every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they be of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world. (I John 4: 1)
MARK AND AVOID THEM: Mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. (Rom. 16:17)
REBUKE THEM: Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith. (Titus 1: 13)
HAVE NO FELLOWSHIP WITH THEM: Have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. (Ephesians 5:11)
WITHDRAW FROM THEM: We command you, brethren, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which ye received of us. (II Thes. 3:6)
TURN AWAY FROM THEM: Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. (2 Timothy 3:5)
SEPARATE FROM THEM: Come out from among them, and be ye separate and touch no the unclean thing. (II Cor. 6:17)
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you: And that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men: for all men have not faith. But the Lord is faithful, who shall stablish you, and keep you from evil. And we have confidence in the Lord touching you, that ye both do and will do the things which we command you. And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ. (2 Thes 3:3-5)
Encouraged yourself in the Lord and continue to stand for the truth!