Chantry, Hezekiah and Chloe

When thoughts collide…

Last week I was preparing for my Sunday School teaching on Hezekiah and the siege of Jerusalem. As I was preparing, I was struck by this message from Isaiah to Hezekiah:

Because you have prayed to Me against Sennacherib king of Assyria, I have heard (2 Kings 19:20)

Hezekiah was in bad trouble. Sennacherib had conquered the whole world, and he was unstoppable. He had now surrounded Jerusalem and gave Hezekiah the terms of absolute surrender. There was no strength left in Hezekiah.

And Hezekiah took the letter demanding his surrender and laid it on the altar of God, crying out to the Creator of Heaven and Earth and telling God the problem. He spoke honestly and directly.

God delights when we call upon him. God takes pleasure in our prayers, when we speak to him honestly and directly. When we are in trouble, and when we are weak and helpless, fearful and doubting, in pain and in distress – God would have us tell him about it. He is our God, and we are his people and the sheep of his pasture.

14 Offer unto God thanksgiving; and pay thy vows unto the most High:
15 And call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me. (Ps. 50:14-15 KJV)

But this goes against the culture of most churches. If you have been following the Tom Chantry trial, you see what so many people have suffered. People aren’t believed, they are silenced, when they complain about mistreatment or abuse, they are told to be quiet. To be thankful and put off their “bitterness” and their “complaining spirit”.

And so people are being groomed to take abuse and mistreatment, and put on the happy face. Let’s all play happy families. Only sinners are in trouble. Only sinners complain. Only unthankful people are unhappy.

But Isaiah didn’t rebuke Hezekiah for being bitter or for complaining. Hezekiah was in trouble, and God heard him because he spoke the truth to God.

And while I was thinking about that, I was also thinking about the household of Chloe.

For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house  of Chloe, that there are contentions among you. (1 Cor. 1:11 KJV)

If Paul had been a modern church planter, 1 Corinthians would never have been written. Instead, Paul would have rebuked Chloe’s household for gossip and bitterness.

How many of you have heard these?

“Now, Chloe. Have you gone through the steps of Matthew 18? I don’t want to hear about this.”

“This is just gossip. You need to repent of your bitterness.”

“We are right in the middle of a fund-raising campaign for the saints in Jerusalem. We can’t have this negative talk and gossip going on. It will hurt the Jerusalem Famine Ministry.”

“Chloe, have you spoken to a man about these things? In fact, it isn’t even your household. You need to go submit to your husband and let the men handle it. When women usurp authority, all sorts of gossip and complaining start happening.”

“I know the man who you say was sleeping with his step-mother. He’s a good man. Remember that he is innocent until proven guilty. I know everyone is talking about it, but we really need to get a handle on the undisciplined talk before it destroys a good man’s name.”

“Chloe, I can’t hear this unless you have two or three witnesses. No, the children don’t count. No, the women don’t count. No, those men don’t count. They’re just bitter.”

And on and on it goes.

Aren’t you glad that Paul wasn’t a modern Big Eva guy?

“I hear that Paul is coming to Corinth! Did you get your tickets yet? I hear he will have another epistle to the Thessalonians on sale in the foyer. His conferences sell out every year!”

I thank God for the pastors that are far more concerned about truth than their reputations or their bank accounts!

Hezekiah spoke the truth and was heard, even though he was surrounded by Assyrians. Chloe’s household spoke the truth.

It was when David finally spoke the truth to God that God heard him (Psalm 51).

In fact, all of the Psalms are about speaking the truth to God. Tell God what is going on. Tell God the truth.

And find a church that is more interested in the truth than in the cover-up. That is more interested in the health of the sheep than the hurt feelings of the wolf. That is more interested in being faithful to God than in their reputations and bank accounts.

We need more pastors that want to know the truth about your marriage, your families, your fears and your doubts and your struggles. This is what the church is for. God is not interested in the happy façade. He wants the truth.

Listen to Chloe. You just might learn something.

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7 Comments

Filed under Pastoral ministry

7 responses to “Chantry, Hezekiah and Chloe

  1. anonymous

    This all is so great. So many good people are so indoctrinated into seriously dangerous, bad, wrong, misbeliefs fostered by fellow Christians and so much of Christian media (radio, books, etc.) And the good people suffer and suffer. So many people’s lives are lost to endless suffering and it’s sorrowful to know that it was all for nothing, as they believed the lies that to speak was to gossip, to be less than happy 24/7 was to be sinful, to complain was to sin, to be hurt/negatively affected was to be bitter and in danger…… oh my, the stuff that used to plague my life and still creeps in as it’s a constant battle of false guilt, misguided beliefs waging war.

    “more interested in the health of the sheep than the hurt feelings of the wolf”

    yes, the heck with the wolf. Jesus wasn’t coddling the wolves. Jesus called others “brood of vipers” and my goodness that isn’t all nicey-nice, is it? The wolf is a wolf, and his wolf feelings are not important because he is a wolf and wolves do what wolves do — they devour sheep. Time to get the shotgun and defend the flock, otherwise they’ll be even more half-eaten carcasses and bloated wolves.

      • anonymous

        And shouldn’t it be a badge of honor for Christians to be upsetting the wicked? I mean, think about when the wicked are actually happy — it’s when they are free to do all sorts of evildoing. We play these nicey-nice roles too long and lose our minds in this bad theology. This is life and death. We are not to extend grace to the wicked. God doesn’t and we are to be like God. We are to love without hypocrisy and to be like God, which includes hating evil. We are not to play nice with wolves. We are to line them up in the sights and blast them to smithereens if need be (and indeed, such is necessary). Jesus died on the cross for us, so our lives our valuable and we need to practice more self-protective, self-defense and not give two hoots about any wolf’s feely-feelings. Actually, it ought to be a matter of pride to stomp on the wolves feelings/plans/schemes. Otherwise we fall into danger with those happy-happy, nicey-nice, false guilt-tripping ‘doctrines’ and when we play with fire what happens? We end up burnt, harmed, and in pain.

        David didn’t take Goliath out for drinks and try to be his buddy while chatting about sports. Nope.

        But then again, these are my thoughts and opinions and I could be wrong or a tad too radical. I don’t think so, though.

  2. Reblogged this on Trudy Metzger's Blog and commented:
    What more can I say, than what has already been said. Oh, except that even truth is slander if it can hurt someone. God forbid that we hurt someone in power, or that those of us in power are confronted. Instead, let us all gather round and throw rocks at those who tell the truth that wounds, or confronts.

    Frankly, I’d rather be confronted and have opportunity to be transformed – or repent if it is a sin issue – than to bring further damage to the brokenhearted.

    And it’s not just the ‘wolves’ that need to be challenged. Good leaders have blindspots too. We all need it. If we can’t be wrong, handle being confronted and admit it, then we’re in no shape to be leading others. Because that is one of the things that definitely needs to be exemplified in this crazy battle against abuse. I’ve had to apologize before, and I will have to again. But before I apologize for speaking out against abuse – whether spiritual, sexual or other abuse – I’ll take the inevitable beating.

    So, like the author said, “Listen to Chloe. You just might learn something.” And listen to Sam too.

    This is an excellent read!

  3. Thank you for this post. It included so much of what I have been expected to tolerate, therefore I left the local church assemblies because I felt so unsafe.
    So grateful for this ministry and others who deliver Biblical comforting counsel to let us know that we are not crazy or bitter but that we desire righteousness especially within the church.

  4. This was lovely, Sam.

    I think speaking the truth is learned behavior, it’s something born of trust and safety. If you come from a closed system where the truth is shamed, you learn to either lie or to just be silent. We see this problem in so many of our churches were everyone is often dressed in their Sunday best, forcing smiles, and claiming we’re all “fine” or “blessed.” It’s sad because sometimes church, rather then being a healthy family support system, becomes the place we just go to perform with our masks on.

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