First Peter 4:15-17 says, “But let none of you suffer as a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or as a busybody in other people’s matters. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter. For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?”
As I was pondering what I believe the Lord was saying to me when I read this, I felt He was showing me that He wants to do a new thing in the church in America, moving greater than ever before, but that He is hindered from doing so because of the lack of integrity, discipleship, and godliness in many congregations and among church leadership.
The verse cited above gives us a command not to suffer as an evil doer. Unfortunately, much of the suffering Christians have presently are not due to the devil but are the result of violating the laws of sowing and reaping found in Galatians 6:7-8.
I believe we are presently in a time when God is setting things in order in this nation. According to this passage, God will begin first with His church. I believe that the grace period for us (especially leadership) in regards to testing the patience of God with our fleshly behavior is lifting! (He gave us time to repent but we did not; see Revelation 2:21.)
In light of the passage in 1 Peter 4, I would not be surprised if more scandals are uncovered in the body of Christ this coming year. (God allows the ungodly to uncover and accuse us if we don’t supervise ourselves!) Unfortunately, much of Evangelical preaching and standards have been lowered to accommodate church growth strategies and political correctness. A church can only do this for a short period of time before they start noticing their attendees and members lacking in holy zeal, passion for God, and holiness. While the ministration of preaching and membership standards need to be seasoned with grace without legalism, the church also needs to present the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27), Congregations need to be fed a wholesome diet that includes all the spiritual nutrients necessary for maturity. Preaching only positive “self-help” messages will not help saints in the long run if they are not supplemented with biblical discipleship messages (Luke 14:26-27).
Finally, non-believers shouldn’t rejoice when a church leader falls or is scandalized; they should realize that when God judges His people it is only a precursor to an even greater judgment that will fall upon those outside His house. This being said, I am fearful for this nation as we move forward.
In conclusion, if the church repents and experiences a biblical restoration, then this nation has hope for an awakening. If the church doesn’t experience a restoration, then, because the salt has lost its saltiness, she will be unable to preserve and protect this nation from destroying itself from within, in the same way the Roman Empire fell from inward decay in the fifth century!