I never cease to marvel at God’s wisdom and how He shares it with us in His word. I am thinking here of both the passage in Matthew 7 and also the verses in Galatians 5 about the Fruit of the Spirit. Unfortunately, my reflections are rooted in the absence of said fruit in the lives of some supposed Christian leaders who are lately in the news. How sad to find the church as a whole being given a bad name by some who claim to be part of us. And yet their actions are telling a different story altogether.
The first story had to do with the Episcopal/Anglican split. Apparently the ECA wants the properties and has refused offers to buy them by the resident congregations. It is a pretty sticky situation, since some of the properties in question predate the origin of the ECA to begin with. I can’t begin to speak to all the ins and outs and legalities involved. What concerns me is the attitude of, “it’s mine and you can’t have it, even if you have been there all along and are willing to buy me out.” That’s what I was seeing. We all know everyone is mad at everyone else in church splits. My problem is that that very attitude gives all the rest of us a bad name, even though our only connection may be the name christian that we bear.
It’s interesting and sad, that those involved are apparently unable to summon up any goodwill toward one another whatsoever. Apparently the ECA leadership feels that the breakaways are trying to “kill” the Episcopal churches. Yet from another vantage point, you could argue that they are committing suicide themselves, by detaching themselves from their Head, Jesus, also their root or source of life. If in fact they were still receiving life from Jesus, wouldn’t they exhibit just a bit of love for their neighbors, who were formerly of one family with them. Where is the joy, the peace, the patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control?
Instead what do we see? We see enmities, strife, jealousy, angry outbursts, disputes, dissensions, envy. And those are the fruit of the flesh, not the Spirit. So it appears that God is right as usual. You can know them by their fruits. The behavior we are seeing, at least as it is reported currently, does not come from faith. It does not come from a heart focused on Jesus. It seems to be all about money and power, two of the big three idols among those in positions of authority, as opposed to those who serve humbly out of love.
The second story had to do with a well known mega-church suing several other churches simply because they happen to have the same name. That is wrong on many levels, not least of which is that we should not be suing one another over spiritual issues in the first place. Presumably the churches being sued are smaller and thus less able to defend themselves. But the problem is the same as above. It’s about money and power and we are not to concern ourselves with either, if we want to live as Jesus lived. Why, He was offered both in the temptations and turned them down. Then He turned around and said if we want to be great in His kingdom, we should learn to be servants of all. Wow, tall order! It kind of makes me wonder why we have the leaders we do if they show so little of that attitude.
Tell me please, how can the church be the body of Christ if the leaders are not connecting to Him? May we find some leaders who really are loving, joyful, patient, peace loving, kind, good, faithful, gentle and possessing of self control. And if your own minister seems to have little of that fruit, maybe you should direct your prayers to that end.