A Disturbing Trend

Not disturbing in that it bothers ME. It's disturbing in that it reveals a dying spirit among those who seemingly are following the teachings of the Bible. The trend I speak about is one I have noticed within my family, among friends, and acquaintances. It is an indicator of how the 'church' has regressed and so poignantly reflects the Laodicean church of Revelation.

My sister-in-law and I used to be very close. I was there the day her son was born. I was there when her still-born daughter was delivered, and paid for the dress she was to be buried in. While she was still in the hospital, I was there when the child was buried. When she was single, I was there to help baby-sit her son while she had to work. When she moved away and stressed over what she would do with her cat, I took the thing in. I was there when her son was married. I offered to purchase a headstone for her daughter, but she advised that was something she wanted to do. However, to this day, the poor child has none...but I respected her wishes, because it's her business. I performed the wedding ceremony to the man she is presently married to.

Then, she decided to get back into God's good graces. She and her husband started going to church. They went in feet first and got heavily involved. At first, I thought this was a good thing. How wrong I was. Without going into details, she slowly began to withdraw from fellowship with us. Then,  when we were going through a rough time with our adolescent daughter, she interjected without invitation and allowed her to leave us and go live with her. I was adamantly against this, but at 17 years old we couldn't stop her. I told my sister-in-law on that night that what she was doing could irreparably harm our relationship. All she had to say was that God had told her to do it. Less than six months later, as I had predicted, she was ready to throw our daughter out on the street. The young girl did move out and in with some low-lifes in Longview for about a year, and then mercifully called and asked to come home where there was security and unconditional love. A few months ago my wife received an e-mail from her sister, asking for forgiveness. I was not afforded such a courtesy until I e-mailed her with a scathing rebuke. When she replied, my sister-in-law admitted it was not God that told her to get into my family business without invite, but her own misguided principles. She also asked me to forgive her. I replied that forgiveness had nothing to do with it. I was angry at having been betrayed by her; speaking with my daughter behind my back and then just showing up to take her away without my knowledge. I was furious, and I still am.

Since we are not living according to her level of righteousness, seldom is there any more contact. My wife receives an e-mail every now and then, but silence when it comes to me. Basically, we are being shunned and we haven't done anything to deserve it. The 'apology' was merely to clear her own conscience. There are others I know that live these lofty and righteous lives, always darkening the door to a church but seldom a word to me. They might as well join the Jehovah's Witness since they are quite adept in the practice of 'shunning' the errant among them. I e-mailed a near life-long friend the other day and asked if I was too sinful for him to communicate with anymore. Crickets.

A few Sundays ago I had an itch. I decided to go to church. I haven't been to a service in some time, but felt a tug and got up one morning and drove into a parking lot at a Katy church. I went in to a building where there were no greeters. I walked into the auditorium and sat near the back in an aisle seat. I was there for over an hour, and have yet to have my hand shaken or receive a smile with a 'We're glad you're here.' Ironically, the pastor's message was to be careful what you say. It should have included 'be careful that you at least say something.'

Anyone belonging to a church and who professes with the tongue the marriage to the Lamb, be cognizant of one thing. The God you supposedly follow has a great verse for you. It's found in Luke, the fifteenth chapter, verse 2. The 'church' folk of Jesus' day (Pharisees and Scribes) were watching him while he feasted with those who weren't 'church' folk. They said with disdain, "This man receives sinners and eats with them."

I am so glad he did...and does. You sure can't count on those who claim they are trying to emulate him. They would rather separate themselves from the less deserving of God's grace and sniff their noses at the wounded, the down trodden, the wayward among them. Even when they limp inside their churches and are looking for nothing more than a kind word...even in their holy camp...they shun the stranger. Perhaps James 2:1-4 should also be committed to memory and held at the forefront of their minds when they enter their church on Sunday.

Yes, Jesus receives sinners. I'm glad somebody does.

A final note: A man I went to high school with appeared at the hospital as I was going in for my quadruple bypass surgery. He is a minister, and his name is Bruce Frazier. He prayed over me and ministered to my family during our time of need. Bruce and I aren't 'close', as I hadn't seen him in years. But what he did that day, and then subsequently having lunch with us when I was well enough, will not be forgotten. Obviously, he knows about Luke 15:2. Again, I'm glad somebody does.