Through the grapevine, we’ve heard that one of our church acquaintances has read through the articles on this site, and his assessment of what we’ve written was, “They make some good points, but they sound bitter.”
This pronouncement made us stop and evaluate our hearts. After all, we are familiar with the following passages:
Ephesians 4:31 says, “Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil
speaking be put away from you, with all malice.”Hebrews 12:14-15 says, “Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord; looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become
If we truly are “bitter,” and if this site is just a forum for bitterness, then we need to clean up our writings or remove them altogether!
So, is this person correct in his assessment?
Let’s evaluate our experience and our writings according to one online dictionary’s definition of “bitter”:
bit·ter adjective, -er, -est, noun, verb, adverb –adjective
1. having a harsh, disagreeably acrid taste, like that of aspirin, quinine, or aloes.2. producing one of the four basic taste sensations; not sour, sweet, or salt.
3. hard to bear; grievous; distressful: a bitter sorrow.
4. causing pain; piercing; stinging: a bitter chill.
5. characterized by intense antagonism or hostility: bitter hatred.
6. hard to admit or accept: a bitter lesson.
7. resentful or cynical: bitter words.
Ignoring definitions 1 and 2, because those have to do with literal “bitter tastes,” let’s examine definition 3. I’d have to say, there is much about our experience that was, in retrospect, “hard to bear; grievous; distressful.” Looking back on everything, I keep feeling new little waves of shock and horror that so many people in our former congregation—including us—were so willing to ignore all the things that grew more and more obviously unscriptural.
And yes, there were things that “caused pain” (definition 4).
But we really need to focus on definitions 5 and 7. Is the information we’re posting on this site “characterized by intense antagonism or hostility” or “resentful or cynical”?
The more we’ve prayed and asked for the Holy Spirit’s help as we examine our hearts, the more we conclude that, as far as we can see, we are not antagonistic or hostile toward PEOPLE. We are not out to “take down” our former pastor, his family, or our former church. We’re not even resentful or cynical about them. They are still nice people. Pastor Smith is still a good preacher, when he stays away from an unbiblical emphasis on financial prosperity or on his own prophetic utterances. There is a lot about the place that is done well.
But we DO find ourselves feeling antagonistic and hostile toward anti-Scriptural TEACHINGS and toward anti-Scriptural BEHAVIORS, and we believe it is completely Biblical to point out what Scripture says about such things. We’re pretty sure, however, that this antagonism and hostility are more a kind of “righteous wrath” rather than “bitterness.”
If there’s ANYTHING “bitter” about our experience with this church (and these subsequent descriptions of our experience as posted on this site), it would really only have to do with definition 6: “Hard to admit or accept.”
It’s been very difficult to step back and realize that all of our enthusiastic participation—our eagerness to volunteer, our fervent financial support, and our blind acceptance of everything prophetic—was done almost completely apart from Scriptural discernment.
Truly, if there is anything resentful or cynical about what we have to say, it is directed at OURSELVES. How could we have turned a blind eye toward so many non-Biblical oddities and injustices when we, through our understanding of the Bible, KNEW better? How stupid and foolish were we, anyway, to get sucked into this parallel universe?
Is that the “bitterness” that the Bible condemns? We’ll ask you, our brothers and sisters in Christ, to help us out in this matter. Feel free to leave comments indicating whether or not YOU sense that we are operating out of bitterness. Right now, we don’t think so. We think we have a duty to exercise discernment, to publicize what we’ve discovered, to “Rightly divide the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15). It is our task to speak the truth.
Perhaps in doing so, we will give courage to others out there who are in similar situations but are feeling alone and unsure of what to do.