by Rayola Kelley
If you asked me what being in ministry is like, I would tell you it is like walking through a great minefield.
You might be wondering why ministry may be compared to a minefield. The answer is the body of Christ is divided into many divisions that cause inevitable conflicts.
There are many different camps in Christendom. These camps can be based on doctrines, sacred cows and/or causes. Each camp waves a different banner that stipulates their particular emphasis.
In 1 Corinthians 3, the Apostle Paul rebuked the Corinthians for their divisions. In 1 Corinthians 12–14, he talked about how the church or body was meant to function together and how to avoid schisms and confusion.
Through the years Jeannette and I have avoided being identified with any particular camp or banner (covering). As a result, we have been greatly criticized, misunderstood, discredited and considered rebellious and called “Lone Rangers.”
The main reason we avoid being associated to any particular camp is simple. There is only one real leader who is perfect and safe. His name is Jesus Christ. Because we belong to Him, we already belong to His body (not camp). His body is universal and bound by one Spirit, the Holy Spirit. There is only one doctrine which needs to be upheld, the complete Word of God. There is only one acceptable banner to unite under and that is the love of God (See Ephesians 4:3-6.)
Over the years, we have have discovered that many camps are enemies of the cross rather than representatives of Christ. We have also realized that by being associated with any one camp, good or bad, at least half of the Christians are alienated
Our goal is not to alienate anybody. We are here to minister the Gospel and life of Jesus Christ to whosoever will. If our goal alienates us from others who judge us according to association and not spirit, then praise God. We are being ostracized for the right reason and we will not be ashamed on Judgment Day.
We strive to steer away from the different traps these camps have laid for unsuspecting people. Some traps are more obvious than others such as doctrinal traps. These traps put unnecessary burdens on people. They complicate the simplicity of Jesus Christ. They may have some semblance of truth but they lack the right spirit. These doctrines often demand conformation rather than transformation. They emphasize works while ignoring grace. People who fall into these traps often become self-righteous and judgmental if others fail to accept their cold, dead religious doctrine.
The way to avoid these doctrinal traps is to not even go there when the subject comes up. In other words don’t try to debate these people. Your safest bet is to run into Christ by lifting Him up.
It may be easy to stay away from doctrinal traps but when it comes to stepping on sacred cows, this is another story. Unintentionally, we have stepped on a few over the years.
Sacred cows are often unseen. These idolatrous substitutes are motivated by an anti-Christ spirit. They inspire superior kingdoms, beliefs or gods that can’t afford to be challenged. Because they represent and emphasize a counterfeit, they stand on the shaky ground of arrogance, delusion and fear.
We have learned over the years to recognize these exalted idols and to avoid frontal confrontation unless God impresses us otherwise. In fact, experience has shown us that to touch such a cow produces wrath and fear. It can result in crucifixion of reputation and credibility.
Our main method of exposing sacred cows is not by attacking the counterfeit but by lifting up the real Jesus in spirit and truth.
We also stay away from causes. Past experience with causes have taught us some tough lessons. Causes may be good and inspired by truth, but they are personal in nature and are not according to the will of God. If something is personal, the individual carries the responsibility of making the cause a success. This is why causes often lead to crusades that never end in true victory and only leave victims in the wake.
We have watched many well-meaning Christians fall into this trap. They end up with a bad case of burnout and disillusionment.
Jesus never had a cause but a responsibility that was according to the will of God. He never encouraged His people to make His kingdom a cause. Instead through example, He showed them they must seek out and know the will of God for their lives in order to possess His kingdom.
If Gentle Shepherd Ministries had a cause it would be truth. But truth is not a personal cause but a grave responsibility according to the Word of God. The truth of God is powerful. It divides, separates and causes great upheaval in the Christian realm. It is the one thing that will always set off the mines in the minefield. Truth is immovable and we have stood on it in confidence.
Over the years our goal has not been to get people to agree with us personally, but to come into agreement with the Truth, Jesus Christ. This goal has proved to be bitter-sweet. It is sweet because we have watched truth set people free. It has been bitter because we have experienced a certain amount of persecution.
It is important to point out our goal is not noble, it is our reasonable service. We partake of this bitter-sweet pill for two reasons.
One of the reasons we stand for truth is because of fear. Jeannette and I do not want people to stand up on Judgment Day and ask us why we didn’t tell them the truth. The idea that our silence or (ungodly agreement) would cause others to stumble or be led astray is unbearable and shameful to us.
The second reason is because of the love of God. The love of God makes us responsible for the souls of others. Jesus said it best, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend (John 15:13). Proverbs 27:6 says, “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.
Truth can wound a friend but if they are converted from the error of their way they shall be saved.(See James 5:19-20) But if the friend isn’t converted, they can quickly turn into an enemy that will attack without mercy.
It can be a thankless vocation when you stand for truth, but we have chosen to be a friend like Jesus. We realize this type of friendship might end in us becoming a sacrifice but the love of God which compels us will not permit any less of a response.
I pray this will give you a greater insight into our hearts. We strive to keep our goal simple, our hearts undivided and our focus single. All we want to do is please God and do right by each of you.
May the love of God not only be present with you but may it compel you to know and serve Him. And may you truly prove to be a friend to those around you.
We want to thank each of you who pray and give. We trust that God will bless you for the sacrificial friendship you have shown us.