I can imagine Jesus saying something today like He did in Matthew 23, “Woe unto you ministers who cause all kinds of harm to those trying to follow Me! Woe unto you who abuse my people, making merchandise of them for your own gain! Woe unto you ministers who rob people of their hard earned money and live the high life!….”
So often in unhealthy churches we heard to ‘obey them that have the rule over you‘ because they will be giving an account of you to God. My desire is not to delve into that at the moment, except to say it isn’t true. Ministers have super big egos if they think they get to be a go-between with you and God. The point I wish to make is the price these ministers may have to pay in the end if they do not change their ways.
It is one thing to teach erroneous doctrines in sincerity and with love, believing them to be true. I am fairly certain that we all believe some things that we will find are not true. However, it is a different story when a minister refuses to objectively look at what they are teaching when valid points are made in love. It isn’t the same when things are taught with shaming, threats and manipulative tactics or when God is painted in such a manner as to be viewed as a harsh taskmaster, almost anxiously waiting for you to mess up on the smallest details so He can pummel and/or leave you.
Through the years, I have witnessed a multitude of individuals with varying degrees of harm, left by those who were supposed to help them grow in their walk with God. Some of these people leave and live a destructive lifestyle because they believe they are lost and without hope. Others cannot bring themselves to become involved with a group of believers as they are too fearful and/or non-trusting. Some struggle for years with the after effects of their experience. There are so many issues people face when they have been involved in unhealthy and abusive churches.
Their experience may cause them to no longer believe in God or they continue to believe in the warped sense of God that was presented in their former church. Some, though they see the errors of the teachings, cannot see that the false image of God doesn’t accurately portray Him. They don’t want to follow a God that is so harsh and ready to pulverize them at any small indiscretion. Who wants to follow a God like that?
These ministers won’t be reporting to God about you, but they will be answering to God for what THEY have done. Though written in regard to the spiritual leaders of Israel, I believe the same applies toward certain ministers today.
“Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of My pasture!” declares the LORD. Therefore thus says the LORD God of Israel concerning the shepherds who are tending My people: “You have scattered My flock and driven them away, and have not attended to them; behold, I am about to attend to you for the evil of your deeds,” declares the LORD. Jeremiah 23:1-2 (NASB)
Then the word of the LORD came to me saying, “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel. Prophesy and say to those shepherds, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Woe, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flock? You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat sheep without feeding the flock. Those who are sickly you have not strengthened, the diseased you have not healed, the broken you have not bound up, the scattered you have not brought back, nor have you sought for the lost; but with force and with severity you have dominated them.” …Thus says the Lord GOD, “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I will deliver My flock from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them.”‘ Ezekiel 34:1-10 (NASB)