During the Gulf War of 1991 our country witnessed an interesting development. Out of the 100 or so U.S. casualties of Desert Storm, most of the deaths were the result of what is called “Friendly Fire. Friendly fire is when our troops are accidentally fired upon by their own men or allied forces. Imagine that, a war where most of the deaths are not caused by the enemy but our own side! Sadly we are now seeing that same disaster in Gods church where most of the injuries are not caused from persecution on the outside but rather forces within, the only difference is that the friendly fire in the church is not accidental. The devil knows that he can cause the greatest havoc to the church by planting his representatives within the body.
“We have far more to fear from within than without. The hindrances to strength and success are far greater from the church itself than from the world. . . .But how often have the professed advocates of the truth proved the greatest obstacle to its advancement.” 1 Selected Messages pg. 122
We remember in the Bible that David’s greatest threat was not when he fought Goliath, but rather when he was pursued by his own king, Saul, and his own son Absalom. Joseph was sold into slavery by his own brothers, Moses fled from Egypt not because the Egyptians were enslaving his people but rather because they were fighting among themselves. And of course Jesus was crucified by his own people under the pretense of holiness and love for the Law.
On any Spring day in North America, you can find two very different birds. One of these birds, soars like an eagle and looks perfectly elegant—from a distance. The other bird has the appearance of a common insect, darting around nervously.
If you would take a longer and closer look at these birds, you would find, these two birds to be completely opposite from what they first appeared to be.
The bird that soars like an eagle is in reality, a buzzard, or vulture. He is flying high, not to be closer to heaven, but to have a better view of any poor dead or dying creature. If he sees a bunny or puppy that may have been hit by a car, the buzzard, with great pleasure will plop down to earth and feast upon the victim.
The other little bird, is the hummingbird. It flits from one blossom to another with its iridescent body shimmering in the light, looking for that which is bright, beautiful, and sweet. In the church we have both buzzards and hummingbirds.
Here’s what Paul said:
“Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them. For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple. Rom 16:17,18
The U.S. government squanders billions of dollars every year, and I may protest the waste, but I’m not leaving my country and I still pay my taxes.
The criticism: “The church is in a complete state of apostasy. In every area from dress to diet, from our music to our magazines, the denomination has conformed to the world
The answer: Is the church in a state of apostasy? Yes. Complete apostasy? No! There are still thousands of knees that have not bowed to Baal. But it is true in some places, that the church has compromised the Bible standards.
If you have ever traveled around the world you will find that the spiritual conditions of the church differs widely from place to place. In the countries where Christians are persecuted for their faith, the members are more devoted to the Lord and the truth. In North America with all our abundance, church has become more of a social assembly than a time when we gather to satisfy our hunger and thirst for God.
Again, I want to say that spiritual conditions in some parts of the Seventh-day Adventist work are deplorable. But does a low, spiritual tide provide biblical reasons for a christian to jump overboard?
When God’s people were killing the prophets, worshipping Baal and Jezebel was on the throne with Ahab, Elijah thought he had no choice but to leave. When he found himself alone out in the desert, God asked, “What are you doing here Elijah?” God told him if he would see things improve he needed to stop running away from the problems and get back to His people! 1 Kings 17-19
Of course, our best example is Jesus. Even after most of his people rejected His teaching, plotted His murder and crucified Him, even denied His resurrection, the first place that He sent them after the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was back to the same people the same temple. See Acts 3 .
“The church of Christ in earth will be imperfect, but God does not destroy His church because of its imperfection.” Testimonies to Ministers, p.46.
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