Collateral damage

I have recently had the opportunity to spend time with a man in the community that I live in.  I have met him before, but had very little association with him.  He is the kind of guy that seams ruff around the edges and swears.  He simply seamed like the average guy who has no care of spiritual things.

This week I had the opportunity to spend two days with him and found out about his history.  He is the guy you hear about in testimonies that was a drug addict and got radically born again.  He gave up his wild way and his rock and roll music to play for Jesus.  He is the guy that we like to parade around as the poster child of a transformed life.

I was shocked to learn that he wasn’t just someone who was involved in the church activities, but someone who has had the Holy Spirit move in his life and in the church service.  He was one of those people Paul taught could speak in church.  He spoke in tongues on several occasions in church service were someone interpreted the message in tongues.

But I was looking at a man who didn’t just decide to leave the church to seek a more biblical way to serve the Lord.  He became collateral damage.

Apparently there were some leaders who taught what he could not find in scripture.  They pressured him to conform and be like them.  He found himself at odds with some of the ideology of the church and what it means to be Spirit filled.  I guess worse led to even worse and now he doesn’t know what is up or what is down.

He has turned himself off to “religion” and will not be cognitive in anything that would lead to a distinction between true faith and religion.  He now only sees duplicity and hypocrisy in the church.  To which you know I agree in a large part to if you read my post and my position on the organized church.  But this man has chosen to let himself fall away from serving the Lord, while he maintains he knows whose he is.

Some could say that he was nothing more than the soil that had the word of God fall on it, only to have the cares of this world finally choke the message of the transforming gospel out of his life and testimony.  Certainly he is responsible for his own self and the walk he chooses to have concerning his faith in God.

How many times have we run into people that we discover their past involvement with some body of believers who eventually turn from what they hoped in because of scandal, manipulation, burn out or discrepancies in scripture and the teaching they were under.  I don’t look for such people, but I am shock at what some people claim as a root of their spiritual relationship to God, only to see the long remains of their shipwrecked faith.

I know that I do not want to become collateral damage, because I used to be collateral damage.  I would vent my anger at God because of failed expectations of what it means to be a believer in Christ.  I came to hate the body of Christ and despise everything about what I thought it meant to be a believer, even the good things.

Some may argue that what I am describing is not collateral damage, but self inflicted wounds.  While there are many who simply reject the truth, there are many more who are left in the wake of the ship “Serving”.  Like others I have met, this man and his wife were very involved serving at the church.  There are many people who functioned as pastors, youth pastors, Sundays school teachers, worship leaders, etc. etc. etc. who feel that they were used up, without appreciation or the benefit of spiritual nourishment.  It is as if they very thing that brought them to the church eventually slew them.  The very thing that awoke them to the Lord became the vehicle to profane His name.

Our abuses of scripture, the dogmas we create and the discrepancies we don’t account for while we demand devotion causes men to blaspheme God.  But is it they who forsake the faith who profane the name of the Lord or is it us who are His people?

I will show the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, the name you have profaned among them. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD, declares the Sovereign LORD, when I show myself holy through you before their eyes.[1]

It is us who are guilty for the profaning of God’s name not only in those who are collateral damage but those who stand a far off and criticize what they see. 

Oh God if only my neighbors would know you are the Lord.  If only those who are collateral damage could know you are the Lord, because I let you show yourself holy to them through me.  If only I, the vehicle that profanes your name among men would have the heart to let you.  If only I could trade all of my head knowledge for an unsophisticated willing, obedient, steadfast heart.  Sometimes I feel what I am and what I want to be is as far apart as the east is from the west.  Do you at times feel the same anguish too?  Do we profane the name of the Lord creating a wake of collateral damage or let the Lord show Himself holy through us?

[1] Ezekiel 36:23

2 thoughts on “Collateral damage

  1. “””” Sometimes I feel what I am and what I want to be is as far apart as the east is from the west. “”””

    ‘What I am and what I want to be’….good description of the war between flesh and spirit. I, like you, am feeling the ‘anguish.’ But the still small voice inside tells me that ‘feeling the anguish’ is part of the pain as the open wound of ‘flesh’ begins to heal. Only the Holy Spirit can show a heart it’s ‘unclean things.’ And anguish is repentance. Anguish is prayer without ceasing for God’s mercy, His forgiveness, and His guidance along the path to Righteousness. God reads hearts and desires…and gives help and strength to become what the heart desires to be. He alone is the deliverer, fortress, and strength. And you are right about the things ‘wrong’ with Church. But with all its faults, failures, and ignorant misdeeds…I cannot speak against it. It continues to remain the only spokesman for the gospel of Christ. It reaches and touches many babes in Christ. It offers many services and helps to the needy. It does much good. But each and every person within…or without…the congregation will only find Truth if he seeks it where it resides…in God. I have a fultime job ‘yielding’ my own body to be transformed into His likeness…His holiness. I do not have time to speak against others since I am as guilty as they. Time is better spent ‘finding’ that place of ‘safety’ in God. Then…and only then…will we do’ greater things’.

    Very touching post.


  2. I see the point you are making Carolyn about “minding your own business” if you will as far as you feel you can’t speak against our modern church system, but I can’t help but feel that this is the mindset of many in our churches these days, and it is this “reverence” that keeps the machine grinding away creating the collateral damage. Because the believing community is quick, as our author here contends, to lay blame on the ones that fall behind as the plants that burn away in the heat of day because they didn’t take root. And I’m sure a fair percentage are these folks, who believe with some expectation of gain and when life gets too hard they crumble. But how many have had the proverbial gun to their head as is the point of this post. As long as we the community keeps our head down, minding our P’s & Q’s, our hand is on that gun as well, their blood on our hands as well if you will. I disagree, respectfully, that we focus on our own faith and let them focus on theirs. This mentality is in enmity with what church is my friend. The Christian life can only be defined in the sense of community, contrary to the individualized faith practices of our modern American church faith, and as long as we focus on us as in ourselves and not us as in community, the trail of dead will continue grow. We can do nothing about the seeds that sprout and burn away, but we are bound by the spiritual bonds of spiritual family to keep the collateral damage safe. They are our brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, and we can’t keep sacrificially throwing them to the wolves in the name of not rocking the boat. Our living faith has become a religiousity machine chugging away on a one way track with our spiritual lives as it’s fuel. It is high time we as community dismantle the machine and reclaim our community. Using the good still being done as reason to live and let be is part of the problem. Just because God chooses to still work and move through the shipwreck we’ve created doesn’t mean it’s right and within His will. He has so much for us but we tie His hands and beg for His blessings. He continued to bless Israel all through their disobedience, but how much more did He desire to bless them had they been in His will. Our modern church is the same, He blesses and works with what we give Him, but it’s not what He has designed our lives to look like as a community.

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