From June 2010 Voice of Missouri by District President Ray Mirly:
Oh, How They Loved One Another
How to destroy a church:
1. Teach false doctrine.
2. Find something that you do not like in your church, get others in the congregation to agree with you, but do not go to the pastor or other church leaders to tell them what it is you dislike and why.
3. Spread gossip, share rumors, participate in “parking lot” meetings or use e-mail to gripe and complain.
4. Demonize the pastor or other congregation workers or leaders.
5. Withhold your offerings because you are upset about something that happened in your congregation.
6. Expect others in the congregation, other than yourself, to change their negative behavior.
7. Fail to follow Matt. 18:15-18 when you feel like someone in the congregation has done something wrong toward you or someone else.
8. Expect the pastor, congregation leaders or fellow members to know that you are upset, what you are upset about, and to “fix the problem” without telling them what it is that upsets you.
9. When asked to serve on boards or committees, decline.
10. Be against every new idea without studying it, praying about it, discussing it, and joining all the members to make a decision about it.
One would think that only the teaching of false doctrine would be sufficient to destroy a congregation. Frankly, Missouri District congregations are not willing to put up with false doctrine. Members know what the Bible says, have put to memory Luther’s Small Catechism, many have studied Luther’s Large Catechism and a goodly number the Lutheran Confessions. Most everyone knows when a doctrine is being taught correctly.
Amazing as it might seem, the rest of the list above is not fictitious. Unfortunately, numbers two through 10 happen fairly regularly. The devil knows us well, doesn’t he? He can get us to do so much damage to one another’s reputation that our ability to proclaim the Gospel is severely compromised. He can get us to think that only our ideas are right and those that do not agree with us are wrong. He knows how to cause us to take our eyes off Jesus Christ.
Do you or I really believe that having the reputation as a fighting congregation, district or Synod enhances the proclamation of the Gospel? Do we believe that our attempts to destroy the reputation of fellow members, congregation leaders, the pastor, those leading the district or Synod is going to make our congregation or the LCMS stronger? The Old Adam in each of us loves the negative! He loves to hear someone tear down the good name of someone else. He wants us to destroy one another.
In the Holy Scriptures we read these simple words, “Oh, how they loved one another.” Jesus said, “Love one another even as I have loved you.” St. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 what Christian love looks like.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus tells us to build one another up. The Holy Scriptures encourage us to pray for one another; encourage one another; defend one another; and forgive one another. Martin Luther in his explanation to the Eighth Commandment says that we should “put the best construction on everything” we say about our neighbor.
Your pastor and lay leaders cannot read your mind. I encourage you to speak with them first before you speak about them to anyone else. Jesus encourages us to be a “light unto the world.” That light is Jesus Christ! We do this when we speak the Gospel and also live out the Gospel in our lives.
God in Christ has reconciled us unto Himself. Even as Christ has reconciled us with our
heavenly Father, so through Him we become reconciled with one another. Imagine that it is said of all of us, “Oh, how they loved one another."