Beware of Forsaking the Brethren.
"And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching." Hebrews 10:24-25
What happens when we forget to consider one another? Have you ever been part of a church/Bible study where everyone seemed to ignore you or only tolerated your presence?
Worse yet, has there ever been someone in your church/Bible study who you ignored or only tolerated?
Chances are, you've had both because bad discipleship begets bad discipleship. If it's happened to you, then you're likely to do it to someone else.
I've already talked about the rock star church member who can do no wrong because of his/her power. Now I'd like to share some thoughts about the other guy who gets kicked to the curb as the runt of the litter.
I have been part of many different Bible studies over the years and a few of them were rather unwelcoming to me. They might have been unaware of how they treated me, but it still stung. Here's how it usually would go down:
Rock Star Guy would go off on a tangent during Bible study and lead things off course. The reaction: Everyone treated it as though the Holy Spirit was leading the Bible study where it needed to go.
The Runt Guy would say something a little off topic. The result: People start hemorrhaging on the inside as though the entire Bible study will descend into chaos.
Rock Star Guy makes a stupid joke or funny face. The result: "Oh, hahahaha!! That's so funny! You really light up this group!"
The Runt Guy makes a few witty comments about varying things. The result: The leaders sit down with him and tell him he's making people uncomfortable.
You get the idea right?
After a while, it starts to wear on people being treated that way. The long term results can be tragic and even disastrous.
They leave your church, which you may not even notice or care if you didn't like that guy. Nevertheless it's still a bad thing on the church when someone leaves for that reason.
They grow bitter. This can turn into vicious gossip and even dividing the church against itself. From bitterness stems cynical outlooks on people, which destroys evangelism.
They begin to surround themselves with people who agree with them. Bad teaching flows forth and suddenly there's a cult festering in your midst.
People might even go back to their old lifestyle because at least there they had a feeling of family and community.
This is tragically common among ex-homosexuals. They repent of their perversion and come to Christ, but the church sometimes will end up alienating them to the point of driving them back to homosexuality.
Though this particular point has nothing to do with me personally, I want to stress the seriousness of the consequences of neglecting your brethren. People won't necessarily lose their salvation due to neglect, but it makes their growth a whole lot more difficult.
My friends, feeling alienated is something I had struggled with for many years as a Christian. Now I have a truly amazing church family where I can finally be the ME Christ intended! There has been much healing, but the scars are still there. If there's anybody you know who everyone seems to only tolerate, take them in and be their friend. Only God knows how much good it'll do for him.
"Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one." Colossians 4:6