Church Hopping

All churches have problems. There is no such thing as a perfect church. A lot of us can get a “grass is greener” syndrome, thinking that some church in another location is just awesome and our congregation just stinks. We can get all worked up about all things we don’t like, and we look for ways to justify leaving. But then we go to the “awesome” church, and after the honeymoon period, the “awesome” church…isn’t. We then move on to another, and another, and another, until we run out of options. Some even try to return to a previous congregation and make another go at it. This is called “church hopping.” Church hopping is pretty prevalent, especially in areas where there are many congregations from which to choose.

What you will find is that the problem wasn’t really with all those congregations, it was with the individual. Those expectations are too high or not even Biblical. There is far too little introspection to see what’s going on inside me; maybe I’m the one who needs to change, not the church. The church hopper is lacking also in humility and mercy. Sometimes folks are looking for a church to serve them, instead of trying to see how they can be a servant alongside the brethren. Another part of this is that some want to serve how they want to serve, but do not look to see what the needs of the congregation are. Maybe the way I want to serve is not what is needed at the time; I might need to serve in a way that is different and uncomfortable for me.

How often in Scripture do you see Jesus or any inspired writer telling the Christians to split and start another church? There may be a time, and there have been times, when Christians are forced to part from a group and go elsewhere. Maybe they even start a brand new congregation. But that is not the rule, it should be the exception. The rule is that we need to work things out with humility, be patient, and have some mercy toward our brethren.

If you look at the churches of Asia for example, you can see that the Lord was incredibly longsuffering with them. Jesus stood at the door and patiently knocked, even when a church like Laodicea was so lukewarm it made Him want to vomit. The congregation in Thyatira had a woman there like Jezebel who somehow was encouraging the brethren to commit sexual immorality and leading them into idolatrous practices. Jesus gave them “time to repent.” Sardis was identified by Jesus as “dead,” but he encouraged the few who were still walking in white garments to keep on going and be faithful.

So, before you go running for the door, run to Jesus and have a heart check. Do some real introspection in prayer to make sure that leaving this congregation is what Jesus really wants you to do. He may want you to change you, not try to change a congregation.

You are quite wrong

Jesus said to them, “Is this not the reason you are wrong, because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living. You are quite wrong.”
(Mark 12:24-27)

“You are quite wrong,” Jesus told them. Other versions say, “You are therefore greatly mistaken.”

In order to be wrong, something has to be right. As C.S. Lewis said, “…a man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line.” Jesus, in handling this doctrinal controversy thrown at Him by the Sadducees, called their views and conclusions “quite wrong.” There are wrong doctrines and wrong conclusions when it comes to Scripture. Jesus stood up and said, “You are wrong.”

There are many caveats that are brought out at a time like this which caution us to speak the truth in love and to be patient, tender and loving. Yes, that’s true, but I believe many of us at times have avoided saying what needed to be said because we felt as if it was wrong to say someone was wrong. We’ve been so conditioned in this politically correct and “tolerant” culture that many of us have cowered away from standing for the truth.

There is truth, and there is error. There is right and there is wrong. Jesus knew the difference and called it out.

He also spoke to these men as to why they were wrong.

First of all, they were wrong because they did not know God’s word. They may have thought they knew God’s word, but they were not using it correctly. According to Jesus, if they would have properly understood the “I Am” passage in Exodus, then they would have come to the right conclusion about the resurrection. The Bible doesn’t make every conclusion for us, but gives us all the information we need to come to the right conclusions. Jesus expects us to do the same thing that He expected out of the Sadducees. We, like they, can come to wrong conclusions because we don’t know the Scriptures as we ought.

Secondly, they were wrong because they did not know the power of God. Maybe they did not believe that God could raise someone from the dead. Maybe they did not believe that God’s power created a spiritual being that outlasts the body. It might be that they did not believe in God’s power to change the order of things, including marriage, in the resurrection. Whatever it was, they did not know the power of God. This is the same kind of reasoning people will use to say, “What about someone who dies on the way to be baptized?” Well, if God truly believed and commanded that a person is to be baptized, why would He not in His power preserve such a person so that they could obey His commands? Do we struggle in our Biblical conclusions because we don’t know God’s power?

So, get in the book, and stay in the book. Let’s find out what the truth is, and stand for it.

Different, Not Wrong

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
(James 3:13-18)

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
(Hebrews 12:14)

If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
(Romans 12:18)

Strive for peace. Be open to reason. Live peaceably with all men. Those are directives from Jesus, and they apply to marriage, don’t they?

Are there occasions where you and your wife fuss about things that are really a matter of opinion? Dumb question, I know we all do that from time to time. How the house gets cleaned, and in what order…opinion. Whether the toilet roll feeds from the top or the bottom of the roll…opinion. Do you squeeze the tube of toothpaste it the middle of the tube or from the end of it? Opinion.

It may be that you have a very passionate and convincing argument as to why things have to be a certain way, and you may be absolutely convinced you are right, but what if your wife has a different opinion? What if she makes decisions that are different that what you think should be done?

We should ask ourselves, is it wrong, or is it just different?

Do we find ourselves bringing up our viewpoints often in various ways to remind our wives that we don’t like their opinions and ways of doing things? Are we making fun of and using sarcasm to take shots and how they are doing things different than what we would do? Is this a control thing for you that you need to get right with Jesus? If so, then the spirit of Christ needs to rule in our hearts. His peace must also reign supreme. I believe that if we are truly at peace with God, then someone else’s alternative opinions and approaches would not bother us so much.

Before we say something or bring up how our wives do something different and not in line with our approach to things, let’s come to the throne room of God and ask for His wisdom and peace in the matter. How about talking to a wise godly brother in Christ and consulting him privately about it? And by the way, don’t just pick someone you know will agree with you. 🙂

Different is just that, it’s different. It might make you irritable or uncomfortable, and it might even challenge you to restudy your own convictions. But different many times is not wrong.

Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
(1 Peter 3:7)