How do Christians deal with disappointment created by other Christians? We live in a society filled with cynicism, ready to criticize anything or anyone. Our society tells us to think the worst and expect it to happen in every situation. A common response: “That is what I expected!” In our democracy, we do not fear finding fault with anyone.
This trait causes people in other governmental systems to shake their heads in disbelief as they marvel. While on the mission field, we informed one of our workers that our Vice President had to resign because he failed to pay his taxes. The worker replied, “Excuse me, but who tells a Vice President to pay taxes?” In his world, telling a Vice President to pay taxes was TROUBLE with unthinkable consequences.
A man or woman assembles with the congregation “every time the door is open.” However, he or she lives a double life–one being quite evil, and one being quite good. The details of the double life become common knowledge. A consequence: we interpret all difficult circumstances in all troubled members’ lives as evidence of double lives.
A Bible teacher yields to temptation. A consequence: we decide all Bible teachers are especially prone to temptation.
A deacon has an affair. A consequence: we think all deacons are looking for opportunities for affairs.
A treasurer financially defrauds a congregation. A consequence: we think a quality of all treasurers is a love for money that is greater than a love for people.
An elder abuses his position for personal benefit. A consequence: we assume all elders are elders for “the wrong reason.”
Thus, many Christians ask, “What is wrong with us? We seem to be like an army who aims its guns on itself. When we have no pressing enemy, we shoot ourselves. We seem well trained to destroy, but have far too little motive to encourage. Is Christianity by nature destructive? Is it a part of Christianity’s character to find its joy in destroying instead of encouraging?”
There are many reasons for congregations to be internally destructive, not merely one. One of those reasons that cries out for understanding is this: humans are spiritually weak. Trusting humans commonly will lead to disappointment. Our faith always must be in Jesus Christ (the Savior), not in congregations (the saved).
- The New Testament constantly urges people to place their faith in Jesus Christ.
- The examples are literally too numerous to list.
- When Peter and John spoke to people after the healing of a lame adult, Peter said in Acts 3:18-21, “The things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.”
- When Peter spoke to the council after his and John’s arrest, he said in Acts 4:8-12, “Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief corner stone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
- After his conversion, this is said of Paul in Acts 9:19-22, Now for several days he was with the disciples who were at Damascus, and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “He is the Son of God.” All those hearing him continued to be amazed, and were saying, “Is this not he who in Jerusalem destroyed those who called on this name, and who had come here for the purpose of bringing them bound before the chief priests?” But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ.
- This same man wrote this in Romans 7:24-8:1, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand I myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
- The writer of the letter called Hebrews said in Hebrews 10:10-14, “By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins; but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”
- James cautioned in James 2:1, “My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism.”
- Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:3-5, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
- Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1:8-11 concerning what we call the Christian graces, “For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins. Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you.”
- John wrote in 1 John 1:1-4, “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.”
- Jude wrote in Jude 17-21, But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ, that they were saying to you, “In the last time there will be mockers, following after their own ungodly lusts.” These are the ones who cause divisions, worldly-minded, devoid of the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.
- The message of Revelation closes with these words in Revelation 22:16-17 — I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who wishes take the water of life without cost.
- Only Jesus is:
- The promised fulfillment of God’s determination to bring salvation to the world.
- The only one through whom salvation is available.
- The Son of God.
- The only one in whom there is no condemnation.
- The only sacrifice from God for the sins of all.
- The only one in whom there is no favoritism.
- The only one who can protect us through the living hope.
- The only one who can grant us entrance into the eternal kingdom.
- The real one sent from God to be Savior.
- The only one who can give us the mercy we must have.
- The only one who can take us to God.
- We can be examples and encouragers who influence people to develop and cling to faith in Jesus Christ, but we can never be the Savior.
- The examples are literally too numerous to list.
- Humans in Christ never stop being humans in this life.
- As humans:
- We always are able to be tempted.
- We always have choices we must make.
- We always are limited in our knowledge.
- We always are capable of being emotional reactors instead of purposeful decision makers.
- Humans make mistakes, and being in Christ does not eliminate our ability to make mistakes.
- So we must set boundaries on humans, even humans in Christ.
- We let humans in Christ encourage us, but we follow Jesus.
- We let humans in Christ provide us examples, but we follow Jesus.
- We let humans in Christ lift us up, but we follow Jesus.
- We let humans in Christ warn us, but we follow Jesus.
- Never give a Christian what belongs to Jesus Christ alone.
- Never give a human the kind of loyalty that belongs only to Jesus.
- Never give a human the kind of devotion that belongs only to Jesus.
- Never give a human the kind of appreciation that belongs only to Jesus.
- We exist as individuals and as congregations to serve Jesus, not to rival Jesus.
- As humans:
- Thousands of years ago, God promised to send His Son. (See Genesis 12:3 with Galatians 3:16 and 29.)
- Abraham’s fear in regard to Sarah did not turn God away.
- Isaac’s impetuousness as an old man did not turn God away.
- Jacob’s deceptiveness did not turn God away.
- The slavery of Israel in Egypt did not prevent God from keeping His promise.
- The utter faithlessness of the adults who left Egypt did not prevent God from keeping His promise.
- Israel’s sins in the period of the Judges did not prevent God from keeping His promise.
- The evil of the Israelite kings did not prevent God from keeping His promise.
- Israel and Judah’s deaf ears in the period of the prophets did not prevent God from keeping His promise.
- The rejection of Jesus and the death of Jesus did not prevent God from keeping His promise.
- What about you?
- Will you allow any person to be bigger than Jesus and make God’s efforts of no benefit in your life?
- Will you let the mistakes of any human be bigger than God?
- Will you let any human blind you to God’s persistence?
- Will you let the failures of any human be bigger than the mercy and forgiveness of God?
No matter how hard we try, we will never be more than the saved. No matter what we know, only Jesus will be the Savior. Always let Jesus be your Savior as you seek to encourage the saved. Never let the saved appear to you as He who saves.