This morning I came across the following extract from a website called Christian-faith.com, which really struck a chord with what I feel is taking place in the church still today. If you want to read the whole article, please go to this link: http://www.christian-faith.com/forjesus/church-politics
The Roots of Bad Church Politics
Bad church politics comes about when church leadership departs from either the leadership of the Holy Spirit or from the guidance of the Bible. These two are closely related. The Holy Spirit will urge us to meditate on the Scriptures and apply them, while the Scriptures urge us to be full of the Holy Spirit.
When the Holy Spirit is disobeyed or grieved and this is not repented of, an evil religious spirit gains entry. This religious spirit seeks to counterfeit the voice and authority of the Holy Spirit in the life of the leader. Even the partial influence of a religious spirit will have a negative effect on the development of the work of God. Religious spirits incline people to legalism, formalism and mechanical methodologies which don’t need the Holy Spirit. These evil religious spirits seek to obscure our vision of the meaning of the cross and of Christ. Religious spirits operate deceptively, justifying selfish behavior on the part of leadership. Such spirits seek to lead people into greater bondage to a form of religion which denies the power of God and of godliness.
When the values taught by Christ of love and servanthood are effectively replaced by pride, ambition and a love of power then the church politics implemented will grieve the Holy Spirit. A leader should model love and servanthood and not simply preach it so that he might be loved and served.
The Control Spirit
Sadly, some church leaders have got to the point where they must rely on techniques of manipulation and domination in order to maintain their positions of influence and authority. Such leaders are insecure and are easily threatened by those whom they cannot control. These leaders may have in the past been raised up by God for a great work, but at some point they departed seriously from God’s will. To maintain their positions of power and influence, to preserve their “territory”, such leaders resort to all kinds of manipulative political tactics which hinder the purposes of God’s Kingdom and delay the outpouring of God’s Spirit upon their communities.
The extract above is not just clever talk, this is a reality the Body of Christ is facing and fighting today. These are interesting times for us as Christians. I don’t know about you, but I sense a new tide sweeping up the church and I am not talking about a tide of the Holy Spirit, but a tide of slander, manipulation, control, viper’s tongues, witch hunts and a deceitful spirit that seeks to kill, steal and destroy what the Spirit of God is doing in the Body of Christ through the hearts of men and women that often keep a low profile in church circles, but who are advancing God’s purposes through prayer and humble servanthood. They see the finishing line and as they protect themselves each day with the spiritual armour available to all, they are determined to listen to and only obey the voice of the Lord, even when this means having to remain still and unnoticed for lengthy periods of time as they wait for God to reveal to them the next instruction.
As I ponder on the evil that is rampant in and outside the church, but specially inside the church where much is at stake and where all the damage that is done will have eternal consequences, I see a picture of the crew of the Uruguayan airlines plane which crashed in the Andes in 1972, who were absolutely starving and freezing to death and were driven to preying on their own, to cannibalism. Whilst I am not passing judgement on these men because I have to be honest and say, until you are in that situation, you do not know how you will cope, I see in that image a representation of what is taking place in our churches today.
Nobody wants to invest more than the “necessary” time in prayer, nobody wants to discipline themselves to meditate and study the word of God on a regular basis, nobody wants to show the love of God to others in ways which are truly sacrificial, only so far as it is relatively convenient to do so and so long as it fits with our lifestyles, and at the same time, everybody wants to pass judgement, everybody assumes they know best, everybody says they act for the best interests of the church, but in reality all they want is to have utter and absolute control over what happens in a church, without the responsibility that such role conveys. We all belong to the Body of Christ and therefore have a right to voice our opinions, but when the vacancies for being elected as an elder or member of a committee with power to make such decisions become available, we all run a mile because we do not want to put up with the dreary meetings, the confrontation, the criticism, the commitment. So we end up with a church made up of puffed up individuals who do not operate under the anointing of the holy spirit, but who are driven by a spirit of control and manipulation; individuals who want to harvest the fruit that the rest have planted, and if that is denied to them they would rather destroy a whole crop than go empty handed.
How do I see this represented in the picture of the Uruguayan Airlines plane crew? This people were driven by hunger and exhaustion to their most basic instincts of survival and this led them to eat each other, which under normal circumstances would have never happened. They were desperate for food and that lack of food, of daily sustenance turned them against their own. I see that many in the church do not go to Jesus when they are hungry or thirsty; they do not stop what they are doing to soak in the love of God which renews and infuses life with a new strength. They want to remain on a spiritual high but are not prepared to undergo discipline, devotion, or to adopt the humility that those lifestyles require; they want the excitement and the ability to move in God’s power, without going to the only source that can provide them with such, and as a result, when they realise there is only one other way to sustain themselves and their egos, they turn against their own; they devour their own; they self-appoint themselves as the leader of the pack and they invest all their time recruiting members to go on their witch hunt. At that point, their commendable initial zeal to move in God’s power and anointing, to follow God’s will, turns sour and gives itself away to the best bidder, to the one that will produce the quickest results, in the quickest amount of time but without the sacrifice, without the cross.
I am using my post today to let off some steam, as I find myself yet again disturbed and appalled at the level of fleshly forces operating in the church today. The worst thing is that those who operate under such spirit claim to do it in the name of the Lord, to further God’s kingdom, and what they are in fact doing is destroying the very people that truly are following God’s will for their lives, or at least trying to do so. It is more therapeutic and certainly more Godly to write it all down here instead of launching a personal attack against the guilty culprits, because in doing so, I would only be playing into the hands of the Evil one just as they are, and perpetuating the destructive force that seeks to destroy the church.
There is a very simple test that one can apply when trying to discern whether someone is operating under the Spirit of God or under the spirit of the Evil one? Do they add something good into the Body of Christ? Do they uplift, encourage, renew, nurture, love, forgive, and decrease so that others can increase? Are they the kind of people that are willing to work behind the scenes, anonymous, unnoticed for as long as it takes or are they the ones who in order to overshadow the ones that God has anointed, are willing to act like Judas and hand these blessed ones to the lions? When you are around these people, do you feel the love of God or the claws of the devil searching for its next prey? Do you break into prayer with them or does your spirit feel driven more towards criticism, gossip and slander? When you are in their company do you discuss new ways of bringing the love of God into the community or do you spend most of your time talking about ways to make your church bigger and better, specially bigger? Are they building or destroying? Are they loving the family of Christ, all of it or only those with whom they share the exact same vision of how to move the church forward, those who think like them?
When fellow Christians’ hearts are broken as a result of hurt coming from another Christian; when a family’s ministry comes under threat because of another’s attack, when a whole ministry in a church comes under serious threat because of the determination of a few to have things done in exactly the way they have envisaged, without the willingness to hear and respect the views of others, that is when you know that you have got a gigantic spiritual battle in your hands, and the church will only be victorious when its members get down on their needs daily to listen to the counsel of the Lord. The way to know when the wolves dressed like sheep have come through the gates of a church is when the love and respect for each other’s ministry and value before God has been thrown out of the window. No love, no authority. No love, no favour. When there is no love, you have to decide that it is not the Spirit of God who is leading the troops. That is when you have to run in completely the opposite direction!
WATCH OUT FOR FALSE PROPHETS. THEY COME TO YOU IN SHEEP’S CLOTHING, BUT INWARDLY THEY ARE FEROCIOUS WOLVES. BY THEIR FRUIT YOU WILL RECOGNISE THEM. DO PEOPLE PICK GRAPES FROM THORNBUSHES, OR FIGS FROM THISTLES? LIKEWISE EVERY GOOD TREE BEARS GOOD FRUIT, BUT A BAD TREE BEARS BAD FRUIT. A GOOD TREE CANNOT BEAR BAD FRUIT, AND A BAD TREE CANNOT BEAR GOOD FRUIT. EVERY TREE THAT DOES NOT BEAR GOOD FRUIT IS CUT DOWN AND THROWN INTO THE FIRE. THUS, BY THEIR FRUIT YOU WILL RECOGNISE THEM.
MATTHEW 7, 15-20