What Is Our Responsibility?
Only God knows the heart of another individual. We need to guard our own hearts and pray for discernment and compassion. Yes, I said compassion. If our hearts and attitudes are hardened, angry or resentful toward the individual that may be a "subterranean," we will not be in a position to intercede for them, and we will be vulnerable to committing greater sins.
- Respond With Graciousness
If you've experienced the wrath of the "subterranean," don't respond sinfully. Approach them with the heart to discuss your differences and seek to build a healthy relationship with them (if possible).
- Guard Against Superiority
You will be tempted to view the "subterranean" as inferior to you because of their sinful condition, but just as they have blind spots and need to be rescued from sinful tendencies, so do you and I. Don't respond in anger, fear, slander or pride. We need as much of God's grace as anyone.
I'm serious. We're told to "bless those who curse you," and I think that includes the "subterranean," even though they might not have actually "cursed you." Send a birthday card, invitation for coffee, or simply extend a friendly hug, for example.
- Don't Ignore
If there is an individual in the church who usurps pastoral authority and manipulates members, it is harmful to the body to ignore what they're doing. If left to continue, eventually it will bring a breach within the body that may result in many casualties and a damaged testimony within the community. True love seeks spiritual restoration for the sake of the body, but also the sake of the sinful individual.
- Follow Scripture
If you witness the "subterranean" practicing habitual sin (like slander, gossip, deception), follow the biblical guidelines and humbly approach them in a "rescue mission" (see Gal. 6:1-2; Matt. 18:15-18).
- Reach Out
Reach out and attempt to build a relationship with the "subterranean" that might result in salvation or spiritual growth in their life.
We reached out to the lady who vented to me about the women's Bible study. My husband and I attempted to build a friendly relationship with her and her husband, and although her husband was open and willing, she made it very clear that she wanted nothing to do with us. In fact, she told my husband, "We were here long before you came, and we'll be here long after you're gone. We're just biding our time until you leave." Ouch.
We were young and inexperienced. We didn't leave the church because of this poor woman's threats, but God was in the process of moving us to another state for additional schooling when her control issues surfaced. I regret that although we reached out and attempted to develop a good relationship with them, it never happened, and although we attempted a biblical rescue mission, that didn't happen either. The church leadership wasn't willing to get involved.
The point of my post today is not to place suspicions in your mind toward individuals in your church, but to encourage you to be prayerful and diligent in your relationships. Pray for your pastors, elders, deacons and others in leadership. Pray for their wives and children.
And please beware that you do not function as the "subterranean" within your congregation!
Taken from Kimberly Wagner's blog post "Beware of the Subterranean" at truewoman.com. Used with permission.
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