Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Power of Compassion

In all churches, the people and the pastor not only need ministering to in order to prepare them for spiritual battle, but a church also must minister to broken people. This is the strategy of compassion, and it too repels Satan's influence. Sadly, many of our clients report to us, "Our local church doesn't care about us. The pews of our church are filled with hurting people and the leadership doesn't care about their healing." They will go on to explain that in their church, numbers is the name of the game. The wounded learn quickly that if they don't fit into the flow of church life, they can go elsewhere to worship. This is a tactic of Satan, I believe, to destroy the real ministry of the church. When a church takes warfare seriously and works to meet real needs, spiritual healing results. Ultimately, the question for all of us in the church is: Are we allowing the world in any way to compete with our love for Christ? This is precisely what the enemy wants to accomplish: get us in the church to put or eyes on the things of the world rather than the things of Christ. When he accomplishes that, a church is dead; it is through with ministry. Only by raising up a contingent of spiritual warriors is there ever any hope of turning back the power of the enemy. But when God does that, His victory is assured. I know Baptist church in Minnesota that stood. It stood against evil in the community. It stood against the vile acts of men-the homosexual community. But this church stood with compassion and love-and prayer. Such responses made the surrounding community take note. The pastor had spoken publicly against a "gay rights ordinance," which was actually a special rights measure appearing on the city ballot. The church took as its mandate the Scripture "And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of these things which are done by them in secret" (Ephesians 5:11-12). When the community voted down the ordinance, the persecution began. The church was pelted with stones, the windows were broken, the church was vandalized and twice set on fire. Then the attacks became personal. Hate mail was sent to the church. The pastor's car was destroyed by people beating it with chains. People broke into the pastor's house, killed his dog, cut it to pieces, put parts of the dog upon the children's beds, and left notes that vowed that this would happen to the children if the pastor did not change his stand against evil in the community. Someone shot at the pastor's wife a "high-powered pistol," according to police who later recovered spent bullets. Meanwhile, church attenders returned to the church parking lot to find their tires had been slashed during services. Throughout this time, the pastor and family always responded in love. No one could spot bitterness in anyone in the family. At the same time, the large church, with almost two thousand members, actively reached out to the homosexual community with the love of Christ. How could the pastor, his family, and church members show such love? Being human, they did feel fear and anxiety, the pastor later acknowledged. It wold have been easier to quit. But they stood because of the power of God. The church leaders and pastor determined to pray more. They especially prayed for those who would "revile and persecute {them}, and say all kinds of evil against {them} falsely for {Christ's} sake" (Matthew 5:110. At times they would have all-night prayer meetings with believers coming to pray for an hour or several hours. Some prayed all night. (Ironically, the greatest pain came not from the homosexual community, but from evangelicals who condemned the church as being unloving. Those critical Christians forgot that exposing sin in the power of the Holy Spirit is actually an act of love.) Watching the church's loving response, some of those caught in the homosexual lifestyle were being set free; they found Christ as their Savior. Today that church continues to grow. Homosexuals are still repenting and becoming believers in Christ. Many have seen the power of God and want to experience it themselves. Several of the former homosexuals who received the Lord testified that what brought them to Christ was the loving responses by those in the church. They went on to say they were never publicly disdained or called names, but rather treated as people who in spite of their sin are precious to the Lord. I believe our world is looking for Christians who will stand strongly for Him-but always with love and compassion. modelling the same love Jesus has demonstrated for them. That is how we repel Satan's influence and attract others to the kingdom. Dr. Ken Copley is available for counseling, conferences, and local church meetings.

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