“Moreover David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered, each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.” (1Samuel 30:6)
David went through a terrible terrible time here in his life. This must the time he felt most lonely and venerable. However, the bible tell us he strengthened himself in the Lord. We must remember that David did not encourage himself in himself, but he encourage himself in the Lord his God. What is the difference here, you may ask? The difference is self-encourage can be self-protectionism if we rely on our flesh. But self-encouragement in the Lord is reliance on God.
Many churches go through church splits, some even go through it more than once. This causes pain and disappointment, some even felt being betrayed in the result especially the leaders and the pastoral body of the church. We know discouragements do not come from God but from the adversary, the devil. Discouragements often prevent progress and caused vision to be clouded so they we cannot find our way around. It make us feel insecure and sorry for ourselves so that we will fall back on our own self preservation instinct which rely on our fear and our humanly wisdom.
What are the common reactions of a church who just went through a split?
1. The head (AKA “the leadership”) will start to keep a closer watch especially of the leaders. Leaders are often advise not to organize any fellowship without the approval of the leadership. At least they must informed beforehand.
2. The leadership finds it hard to trust. Delegation of responsibilities are often partial and comes with strict instructions that forbid the use of personal skills and gifting restricting creativity. The leadership is extremely weary of gifted leaders especially those with strong inter-personal skills. This fear is often regard as wisdom of God mistakenly.
3. Unity in church is still being promoted but it tends to become superficial type rather than bonding in the love of the Lord. Examples of activities like games, food and outings which are fun and promote unity in fun but not in the bond of love.
4. Under the above spirit, believers in the church are usually superficial as well. They are encouraged to participate and excel in areas regrading Christian works rather than the walk. Believers are often busy but not strong, Church-reliance but not self-reliance on the Lord. this often create followers but not thinkers.
5. Often obedient individuals are praised and a welcome sight for the leadership, especially the leaders. These are often named as like-minded individual. On the other hand, voices of suggestions and criticisms are not welcome and are curbed eventually citing wrong spirit or different mind-set.
6. The church usually dictate forced groupings. Force groupings are a sign of control separation.
7. Under the excuse of mingling with one another, the church will feel need to regroup periodically. Like the worldly organizations, to prevent over familiarization which may cause trouble. Church is not a society club!
8. The leadership will over react in any event of cross group fellowship or meeting. Leaders are often advised not to cross the boundary of their groupings even if relationships have been build before that.
9. The church will feel the need to enforcing strict rules, for example, no holding of hands or hugging between a boy and a girl unless spouses or siblings ; no boy girl relationship until 21, no listening or singing of non-christian songs, Christians are friends but non-Christians are not, just targets … etc. Such rules seemed sounded but are overly controlled discouraging personal convictions and the use of Godly sense. Believers will never grow strong but will fall in the first encounter of problems. These are just rules based on individual and personal convictions.
These behaviors will cause the church to be suspicious of one another. Doubts will flow among the believers with fear of being taken advantage of. Gifting and skills are being oppressed in the name of God’s timing. Godliness is being treated as weirdness. The Holy Spirit is not given the freedom to move as it please in the name of Order. The people became dry and not spirit-led since even the worship methods and style is being dictated by the leadership. The people are not founded strongly in the Lord and the Word but in activities and fun. They will grow itchy ears swayed to every wind of doctrine. The church is freed from the death of sins but are entrapped by their own fear unable to be effective for the Lord.
Understand that such a church will continue to lose people and the splitting will continue because the only remedy for it is strong relationship and good Godly values. It is not disagreement that caused the church to split but the inability to deal with disagreement. A mature and strong congregation is the answer.
How to encourage ourselves in the Lord?
1. Know that being discourage is a choice, you can choose not to be discourage. the bird may fly above your head but you don’t have to let it build a nest on your head.
2. We have a covenant with God and He has committed Himself to take care of you in every situation. God is faithful.
3. Stop thinking and speaking the lies of the enemy but start speaking the promises of God who loves you and you will condition your thinking accordingly. Perfect love cast out fear.
4. Meditate on the Lord. Talk to God. Fill your mind with Him and His Word. Do not allow doubt or fear to enter. In ALL you Ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path.
5. Gather yourself with encouraging people to encourage one another, not to complain or gossip or wallow in pity parties but to support one another in the Lord through prayer.
6. Continue to trust and love one another. Usually strong relationships are built in such a time as this. A relationship that have gone through hardship together are hard to break.
7. Always acknowledge mistakes and not blaming it on anyone. Don’t even give any excuses for the mistakes. Only then, we will learn from it and become stronger.
8. If God send help, remember to trust. Do not doubt God. Trust beget trust.
9. God is still in control. Remember that you will always emerged stronger and better. Be patient! God timing is always perfect.
Let us build a church that is founded on the Word and focused on the Lord. A church of love and not fear. A church that shines in the the darkness and reflect the light of Jesus in this dark world so that those who live in it can find their way to the Lord.