Sunday, November 19, 2006

satan in the sanctuary

I heard an interesting sermon today.
I was visiting another church in town, to hear the guy who'd spoken at the "recovery" seminar I attended all weekend. His topic was: How can the church become a safe place for broken people?
"The wounds I received at the hands of church people were far more severe than anything the world dished out," he informed us.
Like I needed a reminder.
He then asked, "How many of you have been through a church split--or have seen your ministry come to ruin?"
"Which time?" I thought to myself as I raised my hand. I definitely wasn't the only affirmative response.
"OK, how many of those splits/conflicts arose after you started an outreach into the community--something that put a serious dent in Satan's domain?" he probed
About the same number of hands shot up again.
"And let me guess--was it slander and gossip, almost certainly surrounding the pastor and his wife--that brought about the division and chaos?"
Heads nodded in assent. Wow, this guy just summarized our experience with our past 3 ministries. I was intrigued, to say the least.
"Let's do a little word study," he continued. "The word satan means adversary--one who opposes. And the word devil means slanderer or accuser. If satan can get church people to gossip and slander church leaders--spreading criticism about real or imagined flaws throughout the church--the work of the Holy Spirit will be stopped."
He continued preaching, but my train of thought derailed, and I had a flashback to the Fishbowl days.

To be continued . . .