If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing. They have an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about -words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between people of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth and who think that godliness is a means to financial gain.
- 1 Timothy 6:3-5
“Suspicion often creates what it suspects.”
- C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
Oh, the suspicious minds that we find in churches. Regardless of whether you go to churches that have an unwritten (or maybe even written) rule that we will NEVER judge anybody, judging to the nth degree is done via the gossip mill.
Not picking on the ladies, either. I was asked to fill in for the pastor at a men’s luncheon / Bible study. I prepared a Bible study. I left from the office for an approved extended lunch and went to the luncheon. One of the old codgers told me in no uncertain terms that with the pastor gone for the week, they intended to do nothing but gossip. One of the other retirees calmed down the initial spokesman saying, “Let him do his Bible study, and once we kick him to the curb, we’ll have plenty of time to gossip.” The second speaker was a crusty old airborne infantryman who might have been one of those portrayed in “The Band of Brothers” or he knew them. I did not mind his crustiness, but the first guy… I think that crew could out gossip the gossip ladies any day. When the pastor soon left for another church – probably gone that week to seal the deal, I inherited leadership of the twice each month Bible study, until my boss told me that extended lunches would no longer be approved – even though I stayed late to make up the time.
The first letter to Timothy starts with a warning about false doctrine and this continues that warning at the end of the letter. When the church allows false doctrine, doctrine against God’s Word, it can lead to far more than suspicious minds, it can crumble away the foundation of the church. If the church is based on Jesus Alone, with salvation only coming through faith and not works or other means, and the Bible is the inerrant word of God, the church has no need to change doctrine, because God never changes. The worship service format should be free to change. People should be free to come and go. The music and style of worship can change. But the foundation, the bedrock, must not change. Yet, too many churches allow the doctrine to change to become more “inclusive.” Yet, Jesus died for whoever will believe in Him. Jesus taught that people should repent. Jesus taught forgiveness to all and to love our enemies. Is there anything in those things that is restrictive? Only that those who reject Jesus as their Lord and Savior and those who refuse to repent. If that is the case, then why would they want to continue coming to the church? You cannot drag your neighbor through the pearly gates while the neighbor is kicking and screaming. And to give the unrepentant full standing in the church can lead to false doctrine within the church. And it is guaranteed to lead to suspicious minds.
I seem to remember a song about suspicious minds. In this video, Elvis is performing in Las Vegas, putting on the kind of show that shows how he got his nickname, Elvis the Pelvis. He spends about three and a half minutes, half the video, trying to finish the song, to the roar of the crowd.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.