Dear Grace Women,
In view of the recent letters and questions about someone's problems in her church, I have been giving a great deal of thought as to what is the Christlike thing for Christian women to do. I don't know that I am even qualified to be the one to answer her, but I have consulted with my husband and this is what we suggest.
When a church stands for the truth given to the apostle Paul, we must not get caught up in issues that are of lesser importance. There may be a lot more at stake here than one realizes.
I believe we have been given the job of standing and contending for the "faith", that is the truths of these things that we believe, these things given by and through the apostle Paul. Ephesians 6:13-14, says, "Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. STAND THEREFORE..."
Women, we must not let Satan sidetrack us onto issues that are far less important. Many people leave an assembly that is standing for the truth, because of these kinds of things. Women are often too emotional and can't see the "big picture". I personally know of many people who have done just that (leave an assembly) and how much they have hurt the cause of Christ. It is almost always over some problem that should have been committed to the Lord or solved in a more Christlike manner. The Lord can and will take care of these kinds of things if we let Him do so and get our flesh out of the way. Of course, no one can ultimately know what is the will of the Lord for another, so the final desision is always an individual thing.
Christians should try to see the "big picture" as someone so aptly put in their letter a few days ago. The big picture here is that Satan will try to make you quit "standing" any way he can. Your sinful flesh will also do the same. The big picture is that the cause of Christ is bigger than one assembly or some elders who may be incorrect on some points.
Our church in Chattanooga has gone through ups and downs through the years. Years ago when we decided to take a stand for Paul's distinctive apostleship, our church group became smaller and smaller. I vowed to the Lord, that if everyone in my church quit and would not stand for these truths given to and through the apostle Paul, that I would be the one left standing. I meant it and there is no way I am going to let Satan win on this one. The Lord was convicting my husband of the same thing and I thank God we are still standing today. There have been times when we thought we might end up being the only ones left, but the Lord has been gracious and we still have a good, strong, although small, group of believers in Chattanooga.
I will give an example to help further. Before my husband became pastor of our local assembly, we had another pastor who began practicing and preaching some things we strongly disagreed with. Many times my husband thought about pulling out of the church. There was, however, no other assembly where we could take our children to hear the Word preached, rightly divided. This preacher DID believe the basic truths I asked someone of in a previous letter. He also believed the King James Bible is God's Word for today. We knew our children needed to be in a church assembly where these truths were preached, and stood for. So we stayed in there until the Lord moved that preacher on.
My husband was then asked to become the pastor. Had we pulled out, where would we be today? What would have happened to the "light" in Chattanooga that had been lit for the Word of God, rightly divided? What would my children believe today? Our church is still standing in Chattanooga, against all odds, and our children are strong in what they believe. We are getting the Word out to our city and are reaching out beyond. Steve and I could not have done this alone. It takes a group, a local assembly, all working together to accomplish bigger and better things for Christ's sake. Paul said in Phil. 1:27, "...that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel". Paul said this to an assembly!
There are many more examples I could give you. I know of one church where the pastor said something in a sermon that rubbed a member the wrong way. She got emotional, did not look at the "big picture", pulled out of the church and took many followers with her. They have truly hurt the cause of Christ in that town, not to mention all the hurt it caused in their family. I hate to see what all will be shown to have come of this when everything is made light at the judgement seat of Christ.
I know a church assembly right now that is still reeling over the actions of one family who didn't choose to stand firm. They got caught up in a minor doctrinal argument. They have pulled their family out, including extended family. I shudder to think of what will happen to the "faith" of the children involved as they grow older. We should be praying for this assembly.
I have seen so many people hurt and the cause of Christ suffering because of these kinds of things. Women, things are not always as simple or as shallow as we may view them at the moment.
What should we do? We should be faithful and not let things sidetrack us from being the faithful ambassadors we should be. We should be forgiving and loving as Eph. 4:1-3 tells us to be, "With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." The unity of the Spirit in our assemblies should be our goal.
I praise the Lord that He was faithful and has kept our assembly in Chattanooga standing! Let's all be faithful for Christ's sake, in our own assemblies, obeying the Lord by "striving TOGETHER for the faith of the gospel".
With my concern and prayers,