Five and a half years ago our son died.
My husband and I had been kingdom workers for a long time. We had made our living by the gospel for about 10 years at that point.
In the same way, the Lord commanded that those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel. 1 Cor 9:14
Then, during this wretched season of loss, when we were totally crush, a church that had been supporting us withdrew their financial support. Not because a different gospel was being preached (Galatians 1: 6-10), not because a distorted doctrine was being preached (2 John 10) and not because the work had been deserted (2 Timothy 4:10) but because of a Facebook post. A Facebook post that a member found offensive to his or her sense of tradition.
I have sat on this for five plus years. I have shared this with only a handful of people. Today I feel a need to come out with what this did, not just to me, but what this thing is doing to the church of Jesus Christ.
What is this thing?
Treating preachers of the gospel (Romans 10:14-15) and their financial support with a callous disregard for who they are as men, the families they support and the personal wars that are waging within.
Preachers are not employees.
Paul evokes an Old Testament image when he calls Timothy, “man of God” in 1 Timothy 1:11. This description is used of men like Moses, David and Elijah. It draws our attention to who these men are employed by. They are employed by the One True God.
Churches are not employers.
Does the church hire a preacher? Should preachers come “try out” and see if they make the cut? My imagination hears the words of the Apostle Paul saying, “MAY IT NEVER BE!”
The picture of ministry that is painted throughout the New Testament, and especially the life of Paul, is that of men who are called to preach, leaving their occupation and their homes to do the only thing that will quench the burning in their bones. As they travel or settle, the household of God, the church, meets their needs.
The Philippian church excelled in this. (Read Philippians here.)
The church is described as a body, a family and a bride, but never a company, a business or corporation.
The prophet Malachi said, “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty” (Malachi 2:16).
“The godly care for their animals, but the wicked are always cruel” (Proverbs 12:10).
Abandonment is cruel.
Five years later I still catch myself sitting in this moment of my life. I remember the feeling of disbelief. I remember the feeling of rejection. I remember feeling abandoned. In the single most difficult moment of my life these people pulled in the life line to let us drown and it was cruel.
Preachers don’t want it.
We don’t do this life for the praise of men. We don’t do it to be wildly adored. But many good men and women are running away from their calling because they are afraid of how they will be treated by their own.
Sinners don’t want it.
There is one distinguishing mark of true believers. Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).
Here’s the thing about the average sinner, we know the tricks of the trade. We know fake. We know insincere. We have been raped by the world’s cruelty for years and we run from it.
We just want to be loved by with an unfailing, faithful love that won’t leave us behind but carries us to the finish line.
Let’s be that. Let’s be that to the preachers of the gospel. Let’s be that to their families. Let’s be that to the world.