Some in UCG in recent days have been asking, “Where do we go from here?” In some respects, I suppose we could all ask that from time to time. Perhaps, we should first ask if that is even the right question.
The question assumes that where you are right now is not where you should be. Is that the case?
What is interesting is how many seem to stay where it is detrimental to their spiritual lives while others leave thriving communities for the slightest of offenses (real or imagined).
In a very real and physical way, I have had to wrestle with the same issue. I believe it has a lot to do with God’s foresight and knowledge that this has been so. Perhaps for such a time as this can I share this smaller scale struggle with you, dear reader.
My struggle has been, “Where does God want me? What does He want me to do?” At various times, it seemed He wanted me in Colorado. Each time, He pulled me back to Ohio. At various times, I wasn’t sure if He wanted us here or not, but I keep coming back to God has given us this place to live, at least for now.
You know, I feel conflicted at times. I fasted and prayed and thought Colorado was the answer. I fasted and prayed and ended up back in Ohio.
So, where was God in all of this? He was right where I was at. He was with me in Ohio, He was with me in Colorado, and He is here with me now. The presence of His Spirit is a guarantee of this.
So, why did He allow me to drive back and forth, change plane tickets and basically waste a lot of time and money?
Could it be that that is the wrong question?
Why did He give me the resources to drive back and forth, spend time with Toi’s family and friends I’ve not seen in such a long time, not to mention develop friendships with people in the Church in a new location?
Even better questions: Did God want to see what I would do when not directly guided by Him? Was God providing a test, just as He did for Abraham concerning Isaac? Does God want to show me what really matters in life? Does God want me to clarify my priorities?
Can God withdraw even from righteous men in order to see what they may do?
10I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. (Jeremiah 17:10, King James Version)
30This same Hezekiah also stopped the upper watercourse of Gihon, and brought it straight down to the west side of the city of David. And Hezekiah prospered in all his works.
31Howbeit in the business of the ambassadors of the princes of Babylon, who sent unto him to enquire of the wonder that was done in the land, God left him, to try him, that he might know all that was in his heart. (2 Chronicles 32:30-31, King James Version)
Do we think God will not test groups of people, such as nations or churches, in the same way?
So, before we ask “Where do we go from here?” shouldn’t we be asking “Am I now where God wants me to be?”
To me, here are the definitive signs of when you are in the wrong group and you should be asking “Where do I go from here?”:
1. Love is not evidenced in the actions of the leadership or the majority of the members (Jn 13:34-35).
2. Coercion and fear, the opposite of love and a sound mind, are used to influence and control (2Ti 1:7).
3. False prophets lead the church. They may be the worshippers of Herbert W Armstrong or Gerald Flurry (Dt 13:1-3, 5)). They may be followers of someone who refuses to repent no matter how many time his predictions don’t come true (Dt 18:20-22). They may present themselves with titles of blasphemy such as “That Prophet” (Dt 18:18-19; cf Lk 24:25-27, 44; Jn 1:21-25; Ac 3:22).
4. Teaching that directly contradicts or requires twisting of Scripture (Isa 8:20). The longer the explanation requires, usually the greater the heresy (Pr 10:19).
5. Teachers who add to or take away from God’s word (Dt 12:32; Rev 22:18).
6. Leaders acting self-righteously and denying the power of God (2Ti 3:5).
7. You are asked to leave. After all, whom benefits when you stay where you are not welcome (2Co 6:15)?
If I have missed one, please tell me in the comments along with the Scripture to back it up.
It seems a big part of the key, though, in order to balance it out is that we cannot, indeed we must not, judge presumptiously. One must be very careful, for example, of imputing motives, seeing as only God can truly see a man’s heart. As I wrote in “Evil, Unity, a Video, a Troll & a Parable”, we can choose to judge one harshly. However, we must remember that we will be judged in the same manner and measure in which we judge others (Mt 7:2)!