When Christians build their own kingdoms…
How heartbreaking it is when so-called ‘Christians’ behave badly, tell lies, use spiteful words, are self-seeking, put others down, etc.
A Christian is supposed to be God’s ambassador on this Earth, promoting God’s standards through their own lives.
What a terrible blot it is when someone professes to be a Christian and yet lives an ungodly life.
I am not talking about the mistakes and failings of genuine Christians who do on occasion get things wrong.
What is really bad is a way of life that flies in the face of God, where there appears to be no boundaries and no conscience.
1. Mudslinging and slandering – Christians behaving badly.
Whenever we feel a bit negative it is so easy to have a moan about other people.
Perhaps it makes us feel a bit better, to put someone down does tend to raise ourselves up in our minds.
The problem with this moaning is that it is bordering on slander and where we tell others it falls into the area of bearing false witness – which is one of the Ten Commandments!
There it tells us, ‘Do not bear false witness’.
When we are moaning about someone, then really it is like we are saying that they are guilty of this offence and they have committed a crime and we become a false witness to what they have supposedly done.
Jesus put false witness and slander together which comes out of our hearts and defiles* us.
The word defiles* is ‘κοινόω’ (koinoō) which means ‘to make (ceremonially) unclean, impure; to defile, profane.’
Jesus puts this slander alongside murder, adultery, sexual immorality and theft when he said:
But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles* a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person.”Matthew 15:18-20 ESV
According to Jesus this moaning and slander is bad, bad news, something we should avoid.
And according to King David, it will stop us from being close to the Lord:
Lord, who may dwell in your sacred tent? Who may live on your holy mountain?Psalm 15:1-5 NIV
The one whose way of life is blameless, who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from their heart;
whose tongue utters no slander, who does no wrong to a neighbour, and casts no slur on others;
who despises a vile person but honours those who fear the Lord;
who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind;
who lends money to the poor without interest;
who does not accept a bribe against the innocent.
Whoever does these things will never be shaken.”
2. Christians building their own kingdoms.
Several years ago I had to withdraw into myself for a few months because I had felt very battered due to one particular leader and two Christians behaving badly.
At the time, we were involved in God’s work which was being blessed.
It was connected with a Primary school within a village with no church and no Christian children’s club, and suddenly a new Christian leader was creating events just two days away from ours and stealing what we had planned.
Two of our core team members were lured away and our club was effectively snuffed out!
When you cut through the façade, it all boiled down to being trampled on by a Christian’s selfish ambitions, or just sheer jealousy.
The thing that made it really hard to stomach was that it came from a church leader who wanted to start their OWN work.
Even when we asked why they were trying to derail our children’s Bible club, that person said “Well, I want to start a work in…”
In practice that meant knocking out the work we were doing in the school and the village so that they could ‘start’ some Christian work there!
Why? I thought we were all serving the same King, (or perhaps we weren’t).
As soon as our club stopped, they stopped their meetings and nothing was held for the children in the village after that, so it was obvious the leader was jealous of what was happening and wanted to stop the club.
It is utterly anti-Christian to attempt to hamper another Christian’s work purely to build one’s own kingdom.
And let’s be blunt, it will be an unfruitful kingdom because it is based upon jealousy, greed, or self-importance.
In the end, that Christian leader stopped that outreach to children and then put nothing in place to meet their needs.
They seemed to have no twinge of conscience and they will need to explain their actions when they stand before Jesus.
Personally, I had spoken to them to try to bring peace, but that was not on their agenda.
With the diminished team it was impossible to carry on and therefore I had to forgive and hold no grudge against that person.
That does not mean that there was reconciliation, but for my own sake, I had to let go.
As the Bible states ‘The tree is known by its fruit.’ 1 therefore I was very wary of trusting that person from then on.
3. A similar spirit to those who built the Tower of Babel.
When Noah and his family came out of the Ark after the worldwide flood the Lord said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” 2
But we find a huge number of their descendants had remained together and they settled somewhere near the place that we now know as Babylon.
In other words, they had disobeyed God by not filling the Earth and had remained together in one area.
They became arrogant and decided to build a tower up to the heavens which would fly in the face of the Lord God.
They wanted to be equal to God and they dug their heels in to resist His command to fill the Earth:
They said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.’Genesis 11:4-5 ESV
And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built…”
Is this a similar spirit that motivates any Christian leader with selfish ambitions?
They want to build their tower, their kingdom, to fly right in the face of the Lord.
This type of leader wants to build a name for themselves and they do not want to submit to the Lord.
4. Christians behaving badly – the wheat and the tares.
When I say ‘Christians behaving badly’ I use that as a very loose term because from their fruit they are likely to be just churchgoers but not saved, true Christians.
Jesus told a parable about the wheat and the weeds (tares/darnel)
Lolium temulentum, typically known as darnel, poison darnel or darnel ryegrass, grows up to one meter tall which is so similar to wheat that it is referred to as ‘false wheat, only becoming obvious when the ears of purple grain show. 3
Ovid, a Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus, described Darnel as ‘eye-blightening’ because it messed with a person’s vision and speech. It is an intoxicant, so when eaten they feel dizzy, off-balance and nauseous and at high doses it can kill. 4
With that background information, here is the parable:
The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away.Matthew 13:24-30 ESV
So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’
He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’
So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’
But he said ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, ‘Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’ “
Initially, the weeds and the wheat looked the same, it was only when the seed head (ears of corn, ‘the fruit’ ) was formed that the two became visible.
Our fruit always announces what we are.
Kevin Simington had this to say about the wheat and the weeds parable:
The difference between the weeds and the wheat, however, is that the true followers of Christ are earnestly seeking to follow and obey Him, despite occasionally slipping up, whereas the ‘weeds’ are deliberately, wilfully and habitually living in disobedience to Christ’s commands, while outwardly maintaining a religious façade that may be quite convincing.”‘When Christians Behave Badly’ by Kevin Simington My Christian Daily. 5
5. Why should the work of God be stopped by Christians behaving badly?
Are you being battered by people with selfish ambitions, are lies and false allegations being thrown at you?
How could something, that we believe was initiated by the Lord, end in such a bad way?
You are in good company, the apostle Paul often started well with people turning to the Lord, but then opposition would hit him hard.
We may struggle with that thought, we see our work bearing fruit but then something bad, or unjust, happens and it all disintegrates before our eyes.
Surely if the Lord was in it, then it would continue to flourish?
But many times we see this pattern of people getting saved and then it is stopped by bad, or ignorant people:
And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.Acts 13:48-52 ESV
And the word of the Lord was spreading throughout the whole region.
But the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district.
But they shook off the dust from their feet against them and went to Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.”
Remember we are God’s chosen instruments to carry out His purposes.
We are not here for an easy life, we are here to serve.
Look at the apostle Paul’s calling via Ananias who was told to lay hands on him and pray for him:
Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.”Acts 9:15-16 ESV
Remember how Gideon felt battered, was on the back foot hiding from the Midianites and peering out of a winepress:
The angel of the LORD came and sat down under the oak in Ophrah that belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, where his son Gideon was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites.”Judges 6:11 NIV
All Gideon could see was what was immediately in front of him, the Midianites had oppressed Israel for many years and there was no end to it.
But God had a bigger and greater plan than what Gideon could ever dream up.
Gideon was hiding in the winepress and thinking, ‘Why has all this happened to us? Where are all his wonders? ….the Lord has abandoned us and has put us into the hand of Midian.’
But do you know what the Lord said through his angel:
When the angel of the LORD appeared to Gideon, he saidJudges 6:12 NIV
‘The LORD is with you, mighty warrior.’ ”
I expect the Lord may be saying that to you and me – but we just cannot hear it.
We should believe that God is all-powerful and perhaps we should keep on pushing forward with God.
Are you hitting a tough patch?
Have you been betrayed by Christian friends?
Do you feel abandoned?
Perhaps the Lord is saying to you:
The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”Judges 6:12 NIV
6. “I can sin regardless and Jesus will forgive me!”
Some so-called Christians think that they can behave however they like and that Jesus will still love them and forgive them – it is like they have got a ‘Get Out Of Jail Free Card!’
But Le Ann Trees has this to say about this situation:
Some Christians think it’s okay for them to sin since they are forgiven in Jesus.‘6 Reasons Why Christians Behave Badly’ by Le Ann Trees. 7
Some Christians are wrongly taught that they can act however they want and that it’s okay because God will forgive them because of Jesus’ sacrifice for their sins.
The technical name for this kind of thinking is antinomianism.
They don’t understand that there are duties and responsibilities to being a child of God, and believers must always seek to honour and obey their heavenly Father, even though they will do so imperfectly in this life (1 Cor. 6:20).
When the Holy Spirit indwells believers, he convicts them of their sin and leads them to repentance (John 16:8).
When people choose to sin on a regular basis without any regard for God’s law, they are following their own way and not Christ.”
Antinomianism, (Greek anti, “against”; nomos, “law”).
This is a teaching that Christians are freed by grace from the necessity of obeying the Mosaic Law and that obedience is seen as being legalistic.
These ideas started right from the early church and some believed that freedom from law meant a freedom for license. 8
This teaching is not true Christianity, it is a false teaching that knows no restraint and pleases the flesh life.
Theologically, antinomianism is the belief that there are no moral laws God expects Christians to obey.‘What is antinomianism?’ Got Questions Ministries. 9
Antinomianism takes a biblical teaching to an unbiblical conclusion…
A second reason that antinomianism is unbiblical is that there is a moral law God expects us to obey. What is this law God expects us to obey? It is the law of Christ…
No, we are not under the Old Testament Law. Yes, we are under the law of Christ…”
The apostle Paul had to tackle this very subject, this false teaching:
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?Romans 6:1-2 ESV
By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”
Christians need to follow Jesus’ laws which are not oppressive:
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”1 John 5:3 ESV
Jesus’ laws are, “A new commandment I give to you that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” 10
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment.Matthew 22:37-40 ESV
And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
7. Still feeling peaceful even when Christians behave badly.
The solution to being overwhelmed by so-called Christians behaving badly is found in Jeremiah:
…’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord.Jeremiah 29:11 NIV
‘Plans to prosper* you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’ ”
The “plans to prosper you” verse in Jeremiah probably makes us think of money but the word ‘prosper’ translated here is actually the Hebrew word ”שָׁלוֹם (sha.lom) which means ‘peace: well-being, completeness, soundness, welfare, safety, prosperity, quiet, tranquillity, contentment, friendship.’
The root meaning is “to be whole” to be in harmony and have wholeness.
God’s plan for our life is to bring us to wholeness, to bring us into harmony and to not be stressed, or fearful.
Selfish ambition, lies, false allegations, and Christians behaving badly, are terrible and those people will have to give an account of their behaviour, but God’s plan for us is to make us whole – to bring us into harmony, regardless of our surroundings!
References and credits – open in new tabs:
Matthew 12:33 ESV ↩
Genesis 9:1 ESV ↩
John 13:34 ESV ↩