Often someone who leaves our church is characterized as a “God hater”. Suppose a good friend has decided to leave Calvary Temple for a personal reason. Maybe they don’t really give an explanation and you are curious as to their reasons why. Maybe you hope to maintain your relationship with this friend, seeing no reason not to. Talking to them is discouraged or even forbidden. You will hear from the pulpit “why would you want to hang out with someone that hates your God?” Even if you know that they are serving God, you will be criticized and probably find yourself in a meeting being told this person is off limits. Usually, leadership will say that they have information we do not, and that they don’t want to gossip. It is a convenient way to slander someone without any proof.
This teaching is drilled into us kids at Calvary Temple school “DT” whenever a harsh discipline in meted out. The teachers and pastors will tell us it is “the love of God to them”.
Purposefully blurring the lines of truth. Most of us dare not question or we will get the old refrain “do you know more than all the years of combined pastoral wisdom represented here?”
What is the love of God really like? In 1 Corinthians 13 God says that it is patient, kind, not proud, well mannered, not self-serving, doesn’t think evil or get provoked easily, rejoices in the truth, bares all things, believes, hopes, and endures all things, and it never fails.
What does Calvary Temple’s “love of God” look like? It puts children on the streets to fend for themselves, puts wives in motels and keeps them away from their children, tells husbands to divorce wives in order to attend the church, tells kids not to trust their parents, etc. This is eerily similar to the Pharisees of Jesus’ day.
But God says, “But I know that you do not have the love of God within you. I have come in my Father’s name, and you do not receive me. If another comes in his own name, you will receive him. How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory that comes from the only God? Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father. There is one who accuses you:Moses, on whom you have set your hope” (John 5:42-45). “Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8). “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20). “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:10). “But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes” (1 John 2:11).
(For additional references see: 1 John 3:15-18, 1 John 4:6-12, Romans 13:9)
“You can’t love them enough to make them obey God.” Our pastor will use this phrase to get some reluctant people to cut off an individual he wants to send to “the pigpen” – to be broken. “Are you more loving than God?” He will ask. “Why no.” He will then reply, “Then let God deal with them” (i.e. have nothing to do with them). Tricky, so I can’t love them enough…I should stop loving them. Right? Question #1: does God love perfectly? Yes. Question #2: does God love us enough to make us obey Him? No. Question #3: does God stop loving us when we are disobedient? No.
God says, “But of Israel he says, “All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people” (Romans 10:21). “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:14-17).
This is the way our pastors shift blame for the decisions they make regarding our lives here at Calvary. Nothing happens at our church except at our pastor’s directive. He shifts focus from himself by teaching the deacons, captains, and fathers to “own the decision”. Pastor says what he wants done then sends out the men to do his bidding, BUT they must say it is their decision, no referring back to the source (pastor). The alternative to “owning it” is to leave and be shipwrecked (i.e. obey pastor and cover for him or be shunned by the church). You need to know the buzzwords, they have a separate hidden meaning. A good question to ask is, “Why is pastor hiding behind his men?”
But God says, “Whoever slanders his neighbor secretly I will destroy. Whoever has a haughty look and an arrogant heart I will not endure” (Psalm 101:5).
(For other references see: Mark 10:42-25)
The nasty consequences of our church’s “judgments” are demonstrated in all those Christians who have been labeled guilty of something, unstated and inferred. Resulting in cases where innocent families are pulled apart simply on the caprice of a pastor who doesn’t know to stop.
But God says, “Thus says the Lord concerning the prophets who lead my people astray, who cry “Peace” when they have something to eat, but declare war against him who puts nothing into their mouths” Micah 3:5.
(For other references see: Micah 3:1-4, Psalm 71:10-12)
We are taught to express in practical and outward ways our love for each other. It looks impressive and frankly, it is designed to. However, it will be gone in an hour. Every bit of it. If our pastor says so. No more greetings, smiles, hugs, phone calls, visits, babysitting, jobs, help, family ties, friendships, advice, assistance, encouragement, etc. The purpose being to shame you, break you, humble you, chasten you, purge you, discipline you, control you. You may be a loving and close member for thirty years or more, but will be blackballed in a day. No questions asked, per pastor’s orders.
But God says, “But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him” John 3:17.
(For other references see: 1 John 3:14-19, Proverbs 17:17, Proverbs 17:10)