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Tators In The Church

Tators In The Church

by Paul O. Nichols

Published in
The Christian Informer
November, 2003

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Last updated:
November 3, 2003.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth, "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11: 1). Again, he wrote, "Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves" (2 Corinthians 13:5). His admonition to the brethren at Galatia was, "...Let every man prove his own work, And then shall he have rejoicing in Himself, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden" (Gal- atians 6:4,5).

This lesson is designed to help us recognize different attitudes manifested by members of the church. Perhaps, if we really are honest, we will be able to identify ourselves, and thus see the need to change in order to become more useful and acceptable to the Lord.

The spectator is "one who looks on." The spectator is like those disciples of Jesus, who would not identify with Him nor testify in his behalf when He was tried by Pilate, The apostle Peter stands out as an example (Matt. 26:69-75). He wanted to be close enough to see what was going on, but not close enough to get involved. When the showdown came, he even denied he knew Jesus. However, when he realized the serious mistake he had made, he repented. The Bible says, "he wept bitterly" (v.75). From that time on he faithfully served the Lord and became very useful to the cause of Christ. In fact, two of the letters in the New Testament bear his name. For Christ He even died as a martyr.

The commentator is "a person who makes critical or explanatory remarks about news events." He is always ready to give his opinion about everything that goes on in the church. He or she is a great source of information and criticism and knows better than anyone how the Lord's work ought to be done. That person may take little or no active part but criticizes the efforts of those who do. He knows what should and what should not be preached. He also knows just how long a sermon should be, and criticizes what he does not like. The wise man Solomon writes, "Go not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end thereof, when thy neighbor hath put thee to shame. Debate thy cause with thy neighbor himself; and discover not a secret to another." It is easy enough to find fault with the efforts of others and make our comments about them, when we do nothing ourselves. If we know how things ought to be done, why not be an example and show others how? A person once wrote, "Be sure brain is in gear before putting mouth into motion." Real good advice.

The agitator. To agitate is "to disturb, or excite into tumult." Often the underlying cause for one to become an agitator in the church is envy or jealousy. He may be jealous of another's ability, or be jealous of his reputation or his influence. Of course, envy and jealousy are condemned in the Scriptures (Gal. 5:19-21), and the apostle writes, "they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." The agitator is a troublemaker in the church. Who wants that kind of reputation? It has been said, "Some people are just three kinds of trouble, past present and future." Why does he not change and become a peacemaker. Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers..." Paul, the apostle, said, "Let us therefore follow after the things that make for peace..." (Rom. 14:19. And Peter said, "Let him seek peace and ensue it" (1 Peter 3:11). One of the most important persons in the Lord's work is the peacemaker.

The devastator is worse than the agitator. The devastator has "the rule or ruin" attitude. He may work hand in hand with the agitator, but he is willing to go further. He is the kind that will tear up a congregation if he does not get his way about things. He is the kind that disturbs the peace in a business meeting when brethren are discussing the affairs of the church. He is disagreeable and hard to get along with. Paul tells us what to do with the troublemaker. In Romans 16:17,18 he says, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." Again he says, "A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself" (Titus 3:10,11).

The dictator is "one who assumes absolute control in the government without hereditary right or consent of the people." In 3 John 9, 10 we read of such a man. His name was Diotrephes. The apostle John says, " I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church." Even an elder in the church is not to be a dictator. Peter says of the elders, "Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock" (1 Peter 5:3).

The lamentator is one who "mourns for or over." There are those in the church who are always mourning over past failures or present shortcomings of the church and fellow Christians, but who never do anything or put forth any effort to make things better. It is alright to weep for the right things. Jeremiah is known as "the weeping prophet of Israel" because when, as a man inspired and sent by God to admonish and teach his people, they rejected his message and continued in their sins. Nehemiah wept and confessed his sins and the sins of his people (Nehemiah 1:4-6), and then went to work to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem to take away the reproach from Israel. The apostle Paul wept when warning Christians that there sere some who were "enemies of the cross of Christ" (Philippians 3:18,19). He was trying so hard to get his brethren to be aware and understand. He was trying to do something about the situation.

The hesitator is one who procrastinates or puts things off that he ought to do. There is a danger in this, because the apostle James says, "Therefore he that knoweth to do good and doeth it not to him it is sin" (James 4:17). When Paul presented his case before King Agrippa in Acts 26, the king was almost persuaded to become a Christian, but died unprepared to meet God, because he hesitated to obey the gospel.

The imitator is a Christian who "imitates" or follows the example of Christ and the apostles. Paul wrote, "Be ye followers (imitators) of me, even as I also am of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1). Again, he writes, "Brethren, be followers together of me, and walk so as ye have us for an ensample" (Phil. 3: 17). Such Christians influence others to become followers of Christ by their good Christian example of walking in the footsteps of Christ. We need more imitators in the church.

The meditator "engages in thought or contemplation." "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night" (Psalms 1:1,2). "Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things" (Philippians 4:8). "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is admonished to be the kind of "tators in the church" so that we are an asset to the Lord rather than a hindrance to His cause.