It’s a contradiction of terms. How can anyone be a victim of the church of Christ? Yet there seems to be a very popular concept that there is such a thing. We’ve all run into them before. They make claims to know all about the bible, and the teachings of Christ. Then they start the stories, it usually starts with “I used to believe but now the reason I don’t is……” or “The reason I don’t go to church is…..”. They are easy to feel sorry for. They draw upon the emotions. They tell heart breaking stories of abuse, but we must never forget exactly what they are. They are non-believers. I’ve found in many cases that they ultimately blame God and therefore hate Him. The atheist’s problem is he believes there is no such thing as God, but the victim of the church believes that there is a God, they just do not love Him. They seem to tie all their misfortunes to Him and not to sin. The Apostle Paul gives us the exact diagnosis for these people. In Romans chapter 8 he says this of them “The mind set on the flesh is hostile towards God”. This is a powerful statement. “Hostile” is a potent word, but I think it is most accurate. The victims always place God in an unwinnable situation. We saw it in Ferguson,Missouri. If the police were to send a massive force to stop the destruction and rioting, they would be portrayed as a suppressive force. If the police send a smaller force, to allow people’s freedom of expression, they would be portrayed as not caring for the people of Ferguson for letting the town burn. It is the same for the victim of the church. If He/she is confronted with love of God and the gospel of Christ, they want to know where God was when they were poor struggling to make ends meet. If you tell them about the wrath of God and His righteous judgment of sin, they ask “where is the compassion for the poor sinner”. Some may not be as direct, they will tell you a horrific story of a cheating pastor or a stealing deacon and finish it with “I’m just not over this, I am not ready”. If we as Christians ever let them off the hook because of some tragic story, you are doing a great disservice to Christ. While many will disagree with what I am saying, ask yourself this: did Christ abuse this person? Could the One who loves us and died for us, the One who justifies the ungodly, be the cause of abuse? Then why are you allowing them to place the blame on Christ? The typical argument against this is, “well the person was a leader in the church, He/She was a mentor etc…..” I’m here to tell you that that logic is flawed and garbage. The bible time and time again warns of false prophets and anti-Christs. In fact, I can and will make the argument that although it may be an unfortunate experience, you should thank God for it. Why thank God? Because He has shown you that you have a false belief. He is showing you that you were never a Christian to begin with. How can I know this? Because if someone else’s faith crashes and your faith crashes with them, your faith was never in Christ. You never had a faith at all, it was a conditional belief that rested upon the other person. You see, the bible teaches of a real faith that is given by God and it results in an incredibly intimate relationship between Christ and the Christian. It’s a union that the Apostle Paul describes as a marriage. That marriage is between Christ and the individual, Not Christ, the pastor and the Christian. How do I know this? Because God gives His Spirit to every individual Christian. Beware of excusing these people, they are dead to God. You can expect an immense amount of anger from them when you challenge their basis of unbelief. I see it all the time with PTSD. We are all supposed to excuse behaviors of veterans because of PTSD. However, I am a veteran, while PTSD may be a real phenomenon, it cannot be blamed for the individual giving in to it. We don’t go around allowing our emotions and feelings dictate our actions. There are repercussions for that and if you do not enforce those repercussions due to PTSD then you are only giving it strength. It is the same for unbelief. While we as Christians certainly feel angry about the abuses of the church, we must never allow that as an acceptable excuse for unbelief. Paul says “the wages of sin is death”, does that only apply to those who have heard good teaching, brought up in the perfect Christian home, and studied Christ in a Christian school? Of course not, that is for all men, abused and non-abused alike. It is not our right to interpret this gospel through the eyes of psychology and philosophy. So, how do we deal with these people?
You deal with them with love and patience. Peter in chapter 3 says this: “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence;”. That’s it, nothing is more loving than telling someone the truth, but it must be done with “gentleness and reverence”. Now, allow me to break that down, “gentleness” is towards whom you are making a defense against. “Reverence” is towards God whom you are speaking of. I know this is somewhat of a controversial subject, it is not easily discussed, but it is a problem that is getting worse around the church of Christ. My only ambition is to remind good-hearted Christian people that there are people who will prey upon their loving heart and make them fellow justifiers of sin. It is a great disservice to the unbeliever and more importantly a great disservice to Christ. May God keep us from such evil. Amen