How abuse can happen in the church

Peter said that the elders should not act as lords over the Lord’s heritage. That means they should not assume a power more that they were legally given by God, seeking to be Jesus and the Holy Spirit in the lives of the people.Jesus said no one should be called father, master, rabbi, adding that all of you are brethren. In the words of Paul to Timothy, who was a leader, he said that he should treat older ones as fathers and mothers, younger ones as sister and brothers. That context refers to permanence of relationship. Father, mother sister brother are unchangeable relationships, bound in mutual respect.
There is abuse if the respect is unidirectional, if the young women are treated as sexual objects, if the under leaders are treated as thrash, if the pastor has the right to speak in a certain way to others, when the words are not seasoned with salt, but harsh and condescending. If you are treated just like an object, just like a number in the bulletin, then there is abuse.

To be lords is to be controlling, to be dictatorial. We are not advocating democracy here, but respect. It is clear that God set some in the church, but that should not be an excuse to unsettle others.

While, as a leader you can do anything you like, but God will judge you if you abuse the people he purchased with his blood.

Jesus said something interesting, he said: do not call anyone father. In those words, he gives you the power to reject abuse, to not suffer from a diminished self-esteem through which you allow others to run roughshod over you. You are not less in value that the greatest of apostle because Jesus purchased you with his blood.

So it is not just about the abusers, but to permit yourself to be abused, makes you also culpable.Paul rebuked the Corinthian church for allowing so-called apostles to abuse them.

Just as Paul has harsh words for the called the Galatians, calling them foolish for falling into the deception of judaizers, he told the Corinthian church that they put up with those who spit on their faces in the name of spiritual authority.

“For you bear it if someone makes slaves of you, or devours you, or takes advantage of you, or puts on airs, or strikes you in the face. – 2 Corinthians 11:20″ Esv

How many Christians in this time has been allowed to get away with such abuse of the people of God. The “putting on airs” part is very interesting, it is creating an air of superiority.

To devour is to care more for yourself than others.

Jesus has things to say about this, when in the letters to the churches he commended a church for testing those who claim to be apostles, and reject them, having found them false. We should respect fruits, not just gifts. He rebuked a church for tolerating some people.

It is a gift of God to be in a spiritual position, not necessarily a mark of God’s approval, it is the grace of God, not a sign of superiority, not a license to be abusive.

Jesus said that I have not come to be served but to serve and give my life for many. Where is our servant orientation in leadership? Your position is a privilege, it does not confer superiority on you.

Peter a foremost apostle refers to himself as a fellow elder when writing to the church.

Paul while departing from the church in Ephesus for the final time said that he knows that there would be wolves that will emerge from among the church leadership who will not spare the flock, not serving God but themselves.

What does a wolf do except tear at the people? The wolf in sheep clothing, was what Jesus warned against.

The wolf would not have a cloth, expect it has eaten up a sheep. Removed their initiative, remove their personality, uniqueness, turn them into himself, remove their voice, their destiny in God.

The false prophet comes in sheep clothing and is therefore a really dangerous person. In that wolf, there is a mixture of a wolf and sheep, the voice is the voice of Jacob, the hand is that of Esau. The damage can really be serious, that is why Paul wept. Because we have perfect deception mixed with dangerous intention. He wept because some walk as enemy of the cross.

The tears in the eyes of Paul were reflective of the ones pouring down the face of Jesus, as he feels the pains of his bride, in the hands of wolfish pseudo-friends of the bridegroom.

When they should be like John the Baptist, who rejoices at hearing the voice of the bridegroom, they want to rape the bride.

The rape comes in different shapes, manipulation, subjugation, insinuation, name calling, sexual abuse, financial abuse, lies, deception, embezzlement. But the mandate of the leaders is to care, not to arrogate unfounded powers to yourself.

In every context of power, and position, the possibility of abuse is around the corner. Thus, Paul admonished Timothy to take heed to himself. Taking heed to himself will impact on others. You cannot “do” anyhow, you need to take heed to yourself, watchout lest you become transformed to a wolf.

He that thinks he stands should take heed lest he falls. You may be standing as a true sherpard but you can fall into becoming abusive, with your words, etc.

The wolf uses the sheep to meet its needs. Make sure you have no need that God cannot meet, no emotional insecurity, no sexual need gone awire, no cancerous ego that feeds on the self esteem of others others around you, tearing them down, using them, till they are empty if of personality.

The abusers are trained the not be able to respond, a shaming system is built in which those who do not conform to the different codes, who refuse to be abused or continue again in the abusive system, are shamed to make it more difficult for others to express dissent, and so continue to condone the abuse. The leaders need to wake up, and stop the abuse, the people pull not enable the abuser, but reject it.

It is like a drug addict. You don’t want to continue to enable the habit, but through harsh love show that what is being done is wrong, maybe then, they will see the light and be saved from the error of their ways. Don’t allow the abuser to use you for his next fix. The abuser should stop deriving his self esteem from the people, but rather seek self esteem only from God, in his identity in him, rather than attach his self esteem to how low others bow to him like Haman the Agatite in the book of Esther.


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