Disenfranchized by Believers

It’s been said that if you have been a believer for more than ten years, it’s more than likely that you have suffered hurt and offense at the hands of other believers. Believers, also being human, all too often fail to deal with their baggage, frailties and insecurities.  Sadly, it is those very things which frequently contribute to the hurts of other believers.

As we all know, among the unbelieving world, there are those who will stop at nothing to achieve their personal goals, agendas and aspirations. If someone is deemed to stand in the way of those unachieved desires, they will often do whatever it takes to arrive at their coveted destination. If that means employing less than noble strategies, designed to undermine, raise doubts or even lie and slander someone’s good name, it’s consider a small price for the human collateral damage on the way to the top.

Such things are expected amongst those who do not hold themselves accountable before a righteous and holy God, but when the same tactics are employed by so-called believers, it mystifies many but most especially those who are at the receiving end of their shady and dishonest means to achieve what they must have.

Just a few days ago, the local Israeli believing community lost one of its more prominent members who was still deemed to be in the prime of his life. His end happened totally unexpectedly and, perhaps, drove home the point that any one of us are vulnerable to a much sooner end than what we anticipated.

The resounding theme and tone of this man’s funeral was to carefully take stock of your life, examine your heart, your motives and your feelings. Live deliberately before God and your fellow man, knowing that your end could swiftly come and your face to face encounter before the Almighty would immediately follow.

With that sobering outlook, would it not be incumbent upon us all to reflect on how we have treated fellow believers and examine whether or not we have chosen to employ all means necessary against them in order to gain or retain power, authority or influence?

It is all too easy for those in authority to disenfranchise others who are subject to their rule once they deem that someone has become more of a liability to them than the asset they were first thought to be. The changed evaluation could have begun merely by expressing a countering point of view or challenging what was felt to be a bad judgment call made by the one in authority. It also may have been just the act of not being willing to accept what some leaders believe is their divine or indisputable right to be obeyed. Either way, once the leader perceives a lack of usefulness of that individual, the process of disenfranchisement begins. It might take days, weeks or months, but that person is ultimately going to be cut out like the metastasizing cancer that he is now deemed to be.

Scripture teaches us that believers are to defer to one another in love. (Ephesians 5:21) We are to prefer one another, honor one another and be devoted to one another with brotherly affection (Romans 12:10).

That charge would not include conspiring with others to take away someone else’s job or to manipulate one’s way to a position of authority or enrichment. Yet, sadly this, too, has become commonplace among the body of believers.

Faithful and long-time congregants have often found themselves disenfranchised by their spiritual leaders who don’t always see flexibility as a virtuous asset and a way to peacefully compromise with those who also have every right to hold them to accountability and challenge their wisdom or thinking. While leaders should have the respect and honor of those they lead, it must also be understood that leaders, too, are fallible humans who are prone to error. That is why there are multiple scriptures admonishing us to be accountable to one another (James 5:16, Matthew 18:15-17, Galations 6:1 – just to name a few).

Ephesians 4 speaks about “walking in a manner worthy of the calling with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

How is that possible or even likely if we hold ourselves as the central point of consideration? How are we able to maintain the unity which we are called to live out if our personal goals and agendas far outweigh the feelings and well-being of another?

And how will that play out when we stand before a righteous and just God who will not inquire into all the great things we did in our ministries/congregations and organizations but rather how we walked with our fellow believers and how we inspired them to greatness?

Sadly, it often takes the unexpected and shocking death of a relatively young and vibrant individual to shake us up and remind us that our last moments may not be as distant as we hope.

The real heart of God is found in the measure of love, kindness and regard we have for our fellow believers as opposed to the swift and harsh verdict that someone is easily expendable, an impediment or a liability to the rest of the group. Each one of us must carefully internalize our own proclivity to go this route and disenfranchise our brothers and sisters who often are so wounded after such a head blow to them, that they sometimes end up too disillusioned to carry on in the faith.

God forbid that we should ever be the cause of that kind of hurt and pain, the likes of which is enough to cause a fellow believer to stop seeing the beauty and purity of the One who loved us so much that giving His precious life was a price worth paying.

May we all seriously rethink what we are supposed to be to one another, how far from the mark we may have gotten away from that and decidedly reject and eschew the “me first” mindset of the world.

May we endeavor to live each day, patterning ourselves after the One who made the ultimate sacrifice for those He loved. May that same kind of intense and holy love embody all we do, say and live, because anything short of that is to “Not live in a manner worthy of the calling” no matter how big, important or grandiose our work for the Lord!