and deceitful. . .Their talk must be squashed. . .
Titus 1:10-11a (The Voice New Testament)
When I read this verse from Titus I get closer to understanding why people are leaving the Church. . .in droves. Within the Church conflicts abound, rebellious attitudes dominate and too many loose-lipped members have reduced the average stay of a pastor to 18 months. That may seem unbelievable but take note of one resignation of the senior pastor of the Riverside Church in New York. He lasted nine months all because of a few antagonists, rebellious, loose-lipped and deceitful members.
One day I received an e-mail from a ministerial group in our town addressing the issue of gossip. Apparently a few loose-lipped "Christians" were dishing one of our local churches claiming that a church split was imminent. The best part about the e-mail was the fact that they were actively attempting to squash the gossip. Having gone to the pastor involved and heard the issues, they discovered the deceit.
Now, none of this is particularly new to me, which, in a sense is sad. My church as a young girl also had a few loose-lipped, deceitful individuals who decided to write letters to a select few claiming our pastor was having an affair. As a ten year old, the image of my pastor standing with his wife at the front of the church, professing his faithfulness to the love of his life, has been deeply imprinted on my psyche.
Still, I stayed faithful to the "Church", married a man who felt "called" to minister and as a result jumped into the fray. We've lived all over the country, worked in a number of different churches and talked with lots of pastors and their spouses. Everywhere it is the same--antagonistic, rebellious, loose-lipped, deceitful "Christians" causing disturbances within congregations. Unfortunately their actions are all too obvious to the world.
If we want to speak Jesus into the world today, to be good yeast, we must be different than the world. We all know that the world is filled with the rebellious, loose-lipped and deceitful. And it's true that Christians are human, but shouldn't we be visibly striving against our "human" nature?
To speak against sin in the Church is difficult. But if we're going to be witnesses, effecting change in the world, we'll need to do some "in house" cleaning along the way. Confronting the antagonists, rebellious, loose-lipped and deceitful will take courage and strength – but don’t be afraid.
Jesus, help me to have the courage to speak up
against those things that destroy your kingdom!