I bought a suit. You seen it. Now it's covered in mud.
We continue with our series based on The 10 Dumbest Things Christians Do, by Mark Atteberry.
DUMB MOVE #1 ... Slinging Mud on the Bride of Christ
Jesus is the groom (John 3:29) and His church is His beloved bride (Rev 21:9), which He loved so much He gave His life for her (Eph 5:25-27). Think of your potential ire if someone was defaming your spouse, but that's what is done when Christians sling mud on the church.
Atteberry notes 4 types of Christians responsible for the majority of mud slung on the bride of Christ:
1. The Missing - those AWOL, having left the church
"regardless of how they leave, sooner or later someone is going to notice and ask why. At that point, they will have two choices: take responsibility or play the blame game."
Typically, it is the latter and the mud starts to fly, because "every human being alive has a buck-passing gene that flares up every now and then."
2. The Malcontents - those "chronic complainers, the squeaky wheels that no amount of grease will ever silence"
They will "make the bride of Christ sound like a tramp to those who don't know her."
3. The Moochers - those who "have somehow gotten the idea that the church exists for the sole purpose of meeting their needs."
They have what Atteberry calls the "motel mentality."
These mud slingers "judge the church solely on the basis of the way it caters to their whims." "They walk in expecting everything to be perfectly prepared for their comfort and convenience, and walk out leaving the bed unmade and all their dirty towels piled up on the bathroom floor."
4. The Misbehavers - those who embarrass the church by their behavior in the community
"They don't just sling mud on the bride of Christ. They pick up handfuls of it and smear it all over her. And then they haul off and punch her in the nose for good measure."
We've all know, and perhaps still know, folks in each of these categories, but Atteberry cautions us to look inward. "Please don't assume that when I identify blundering believers, I must be talking about someone else. Have the courage to ask, 'Lord, who is it? Am I the one who does these things?'"
Atteberry offers 3 devastating results of mudslinging:
1. When mud is slung, the devil is handed an opportunity.
"There's no doubt in my mind that Satan's favorite believers are the missing, the malcontents, the moochers, and the misbehavers--for the simple reason that they create endless opportunities for him to make the church look bad."
2. When mud is slung, the lost are handed an excuse.
The unbeliever is further entrenched in the notion that he/she doesn't need to be a Christian, to be a part of the body of Christ. Who would want to be with those hypocrites?
3. When mud is slung, the Lord is handed a heartache.
Because Christ cherishes church (Eph 5:29), it is injurious to Him when His bride is defamed.
Atteberry offers 4 diagnostic questions to see if you're a (potential) mudslinger:
- When you have a problem with your church, do you approach your leaders, or do you just start blabbing about it to anyone who will listen?
- What is your church contentment quotient? (result of subtracting the number of communities in which you've lived from the number of churches you've attended; the lower the better)
- Do you have any habits or enjoy any activities that you would hate for your church leaders to find out about?
- How long has it been since you bragged about your church?
Atteberry asks, "Have you been slinging mud on the bride of Christ for so long that you don't even realize you're doing it?"
Perhaps even more incisive, he asks, "Is it possible that you have become more of a hindrance than a help to your church?"
My thoughts ...
- It seems to me that many mudslingers are often unaware of the damage they're causing.
- Under the guise of being honest in criticism or striving for perfection, malcontents will demotivate people with great efficiency.
- Though the misbehavers may (per Atteberry) sling the most mud on the bride, I have found them to be easier to deal with than the missing, the malcontents, or the moochers. At least the misbehavers are more likely to recognize their behavior as sinful. The other three often create a veneer of spirituality to cloak their mudslinging actions, so they often see themselves as righteous.
- While it's easy to get angry or frustrated by these mudslingers, I mostly feel sorry for them, for they have no idea that the Lord doesn't take it lightly when that which He loves is injured.
(Click to buy a copy of The 10 Dumbest Things Christians Do, especially if you want to read along.)