A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Keep Your Eyes on Christ or You Will Despair

Heb 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

Just when I think I have pretty much heard everything there is to hear about the condition of so-called Christianity nowadays, I pick up another book and find still another mess. This time I was looking at the terrible book we reviewed earlier (and which there are going to be more posts about soon), Sexual Issues by Harold Wahking and Gene Zimmerman. I read its account of an interchange between a pastor and a counselee who claimed to be a Christian and yet who was habitually walking in rank sin. Key word = habitually. I will have to save my review of that account for a later post, but let me just say here that what these authors are teaching pastors and future pastors is absolutely non-Christian, totally unbiblical, and notoriously protective of the wicked. And of course it is all done under the guise of “the love and compassion of Jesus.”  It is putrid stuff I can tell you and it largely explains why our churches and pastors are not only being duped by the wicked, but protecting them and enabling them. I mean, if this is the stuff they were taught then we are in big trouble. Hey wait. We ARE in big trouble!

This not only angers me, sometimes it makes me want to just say something like Jeremiah did in his day regarding the professing “church” that persecuted him. He says he decided to try to just shut his mouth and not speak any more in His name because it only got him hated and into more trouble. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t hold it in:

Jer 20:7-10 O LORD, you have deceived me, and I was deceived; you are stronger than I, and you have prevailed. I have become a laughingstock all the day; everyone mocks me. For whenever I speak, I cry out, I shout, “Violence and destruction!” For the word of the LORD has become for me a reproach and derision all day long.  If I say, “I will not mention him, or speak any more in his name,” there is in my heart as it were a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I am weary with holding it in, and I cannot. For I hear many whispering. Terror is on every side! “Denounce him! Let us denounce him!” say all my close friends, watching for my fall. “Perhaps he will be deceived; then we can overcome him and take our revenge on him.”

Evil is all around us. The wicked hide in the pews of our churches. They oppress the weak, and soooo often the shepherds of the church enable them:

Jer 23:14 But in the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: they commit adultery and walk in lies; they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns from his evil; all of them have become like Sodom to me, and its inhabitants like Gomorrah.”

As I will prove in a future post concerning this book, Sexual Issues, written as a textbook for pastoral counseling classes, what Jeremiah describes is exactly what these authors do. They strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that none of them turn from their evil, and continue right on oppressing their victims. What are we to do in the face of all this? We feel like just being done with it all sometimes.

But then there is Jesus.

Jesus is our real Shepherd. He is our Lord and Master. And He is perfectly righteous and true. The Apostle to the Hebrews tells us to set our eyes on Him as our example. Doing so will mean that we catch our breath and find the encouragement to keep right on keeping on. We must not set our eyes on men. Not on pastors. Not on celebrity theologians. Not on those who seem to be the most eminent Christians in our churches. If we look at people we are going to stumble and drop out, muttering “what’s the use” or something similar. Jesus is the real deal. His true church is real even though it is pretty hard to see sometimes behind all the hypocrites. Remember, the blind man healed by Jesus (John 9) found Jesus outside the Temple building. That “church” had grown so corrupt that it expelled true believers, and the Messiah Himself! So it often is today.

This old hymn verse popped into my mind, and I will just close with it:

Jesus calls us over the tumult
Of our life’s wild, restless, sea;
Day by day His sweet voice soundeth,
Saying, “Christian, follow Me!”

16 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Pastor Crippen, I appreciate your compassionate anger at sin and for being a Jeremiah! I am often challenged for not ‘attending’ a local church; they are not concerned with WHY I left ‘the church’ and continue to be fearful of entrusting my life into their care. I found great comfort as you referenced, “Remember, the blind man healed by Jesus (John 9) found Jesus outside the Temple building. That “church” had grown so corrupt that it expelled true believers, and the Messiah Himself! So it often is today.” I have felt guilty for “finding” Jesus outside ‘the church’. Your words were a healing balm for me this morning:-)

    • His Child

      I had to leave my church and haven’t been able to find another church to call my home. I’ve visited a few churches, and really wanted it to work, but for various reasons, they have not been right :(. “Guilty” doesn’t go far enough in describing what it’s like not to have a spiritual home. It is a relief to know that others are going through this as well.

  2. Anonymous

    oops, forgot to tick; keep me updated:-)

  3. Nowfree

    AMEN! 🙂

  4. Brenda R

    Amen, Pastor. Focusing on Jesus is the most important thing we can do. He is our only hope. We should all pray for those being threatened with execution in North Korea. Their crime: establishing house churches to worship Jesus along with a missionary from South Korea.

  5. I agree with Anon. – THANK YOU Pastor Crippen and other ACFJ staffers for not giving up! When you want to shut up due to the scorn or hardness of heart,etc.,instead you speak up (or write) pointing us to JESUS and His truth which sets us FREE!!!

    This really tells the story, doesn’t it? That Jesus Himself was excommunicated! “Remember, the blind man healed by Jesus (John 9) found Jesus outside the Temple building. That ‘church’ had grown so corrupt that it expelled true believers, and the Messiah Himself! So it often is today.”

  6. Amen Jeff!
    It is hard to wander outside the ‘c’hurch walls, looking for the true Church! It’s exhausting. It’s lonely. Surely Jesus knows this.
    Praying that this community continues to grow with His sheep 🙂

    • Anonymous

      Katy – I echo your sentiments.

  7. HisEzer

    “We must not set our eyes on men. Not on pastors. Not on celebrity theologians. Not on those who seem to be the most eminent Christians in our churches.”
    Amen, Jeff!!

    “That “church” had grown so corrupt that it expelled true believers, and the Messiah Himself! So it often is today.”
    So true. Satan has always found a way to infiltrate and corrupt the entities God established to impact the world and draw men to Himself. He (Satan) did it through the Jewish leadership throughout the centuries as they killed the prophets and, then even God Himself incarnate…(following soon after with any who claimed to be believers); he did it next through the Catholic Popes/Bishops during the inquisitions and killing of those who did not conform to their *infallible* teachings; and now he is subtly and incrementally at it yet again within modern “Christianity” – within the generation who thinks they have “the edge on understanding” and have reached the “pinnacle of real truth” when in reality their hearts are just as darkened (by various forms of pride and selfish ambition) and and their misuse of scripture just as intentional. Popular leaders left and right are promulgating false teachings, and it is all, sadly, just being accepted by the masses without question. (Anyone who dares to is quickly bullied into silence). It is only going to get worse… But those who have eyes to see and ears to hear will not stop speaking up and shining the light of truth. It is for the sake of The True Bride… the remnant… those who still have the capacity to experience the Spirit’s awakening … that we do not give up…
    I believe we are seeing the beginning stages of “the separation of the wheat from the tares.”

  8. Amen, Jeff and all in this thread.
    There are those who would deride us for being so outraged, but they are either ignorant of the epidemic of abuse-tolerance in the church, or else they are abusers or abuser’s active accomplices.

    Outrage in the spirit of Jeremiah is the righteous response to the way so many churches are enabling abuse.

    Those churches which think they are doing things to prevent abuse and protect victims could in most cases be doing a LOT MORE than they are doing. They could start by reading all the stuff on this blog till they understand the victims’ experiences from the inside with empathy and compassion, and are willing to give up their arms-length patronising assumption that they know how to best help victims.

  9. all of them have become like Sodom to me, and its inhabitants like Gomorrah.

    as I’ve mentioned before on this blog, Sodom was not just into homosexuality, the Sodomites were sinfully proud and hedonistic, and they didn’t give a fig about the poor and needy:

    Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy. They were haughty and did an abomination before me. So I removed them, when I saw it. (Ezek. 16:49)

  10. Anon

    I am reminded this weekend, as I am tempted to sink into despair, that God hates wickedness more than we do. As long as He is in control, wickedness will not prevail:

    “Because they do not regard the works of the LORD or the work of his hands, he will tear them down and build them up no more.” Psalm 28:5

    And then, even more importantly, I reminded of who God is:

    “The LORD is my strength and my shield, in him my heart trusts, and I am helped; my heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to him”

  11. bright sunshinin' day

    Beautiful verses, Anon. You overcame despair with good…by looking up in expectation that God will tear the wicked down and help the righteous to trust and give.thanks to Him.

  12. Finding Answers

    (Airbrushing…spiritual warfare…response to twisting Scripture…led by the Holy Spirit…)

    From the original post Heb 12:1-3 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted.

    Warfare is usually covert, hidden in false ministries. (Even Satan quoted Scripture.)

    Warfare is usually covert, hidden in false prophets. (Anyone with a “tongue” can speak.)

    Warfare is usually covert, hidden in dubious visions and dreams. (Not all details are “remembered”.)

    Covert warfare can hide anywhere, inside or outside the professing ‘c’hurch.

    The Apostle to the Hebrews meant what he said…some “apostles” only give lip service to the words, preferring to use the phrase “since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses” as approbation for their “vision”, like receiving a standing ovation at Carnegie Hall.

    Warfare is real…Christ was given authority.

    Warfare is real…Christ died to set us free.

    Warfare is real…Christ rose again to take the reins.

    How we fight is in Whom we “die” And how we fight is in Whom we Live.

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