Before diving into this article, you will want to read “Looking to Leave Your Church? Don’t! At Least Not Before You Discover What Satan Is Up To!” It describes the danger of leaving our church family in search of something different, better, or more suited to our needs, wants, and desires plus encourages us to examine our true motives for leaving and then rethink our decisions!
People are church hopping and shopping in droves, succumbing to Satan’s ploys and tactics to leave churches even though God’s Word speaks loud and clear about church and fellowship. But ultimately, the devil can only hang the lure in front of our faces. We can choose to bite or we can choose to keep swimming. Satan can never force us to take a different path and God will never force us. The people of God have been duped into believing they can just pick up and leave a church whenever they want, for whatever reasons and there will be no consequences. But I have learned from personal experience and now through revelation and the Word, there will always be consequences at some point. God wants us to fulfill our purpose everywhere we go and when we do not, we will just keep going around the mountain. He is faithful to see His Kingdom come His way not ours, but we are part of His plan.
Satan’s desire is to separate us from each other, steal us from our spiritual parents, and isolate and remove us from the very people who will be faithful to walk with us and see us through anything and everything. Honestly, he is doing a great job of confusing the people of God, causing them to wander aimlessly or attempting to “find” new families. Friends, his tactics are powerless unless we give him control. Knowing his evil schemes and then coming against them with God’s limitless power will reconnect or keep us bonded with our imperfect yet appointed leaders and fellowship, where we can continue doing Kingdom work.
The devil’s “D” – DISSATISFACTION
In the Garden of Eden, the devil began his plan to destroy the love relationship we share with God and each other by causing Eve to be dissatisfied with what was “not” happening for her. In Genesis 3:8 we discover Adam and Eve shared intimate times with God as they walked in the cool of the day with Him. What could be better in life than to walk with God? But the devil who was more cunning than any other creature, smoothly and effectively planted a seed of possibility in Eve that there “could” be something better! He said by eating the forbidden fruit she could know good from evil and be just like God. As a result Eve started to believe that God did not have her “best interest” in mind, perhaps thinking He was keeping her from something better than just “being” with Him. She became dissatisfied with the relationship she had with God, even though He did nothing to bring about her dissatisfaction.
The devil does the same thing in the Church today! He gets people to look at what is “not” happening for them. Perhaps at the beginning of our tenure at a church we find ourselves walking in the cool of the day enjoying God and our church fellowship. We are passionate about ministry, look forward with hope and joy to the challenges laid before us, are awed at the privilege of serving Him, and can only see the “possibilities”. But then as time goes on and things are not as spectacular as they were in the beginning, we entertain the possibility there could be something better in another church. As a result, we eat the fruit of dissatisfaction and now our eyes are opened! We see how difficult relationships really are, how imperfect our leadership is, and how our hopes and dreams for our servant hood have diminished. Eventually, we determine this church is not in our best interest since we no longer “see” the possibilities. We start entertaining the idea there is something else out there, which then leads us to pray and conclude that God is leading us away from this church. Sometime during this process we start visiting other churches, taking friends up on invitations to other ministries where things are new, different, exciting, and fresh. The people are friendly, warm, loving, and there is “something” for everyone. My answer to all of this is “Of course other Christian churches and ministries have all those things! They are the body of Christ! He blesses His body! Praise the Lord!” But if dissatisfaction drove us to these churches/ministries, we first must admit it, then step back and see what the devil is up to and determine to be up to what God desires.
How often do we blame God or others for our dissatisfaction at a church just like Eve blamed the serpent, the devil? Eve was no longer satisfied with the intimate fellowship, care, and protection she experienced in the garden with God and Adam because her eyes and heart had been moved to what she did not have. When we are no longer satisfied with the intimate fellowship, care, and protection we have within our church it is because our eyes and heart have been moved to what we do not have. Our dissatisfaction with church fellowship increases even though God did nothing to bring it about.
Dissatisfaction amongst the people of God in churches is raging at epidemic proportions causing people to wander like sheep without a shepherd. Unfortunately people are deceived into thinking it is the Lord leading them but the Word of God would suggest otherwise. Ministries are scrambling to provide people what they want and desire in order to “keep” them engaged. But as long as people continue to look at the fruit of dissatisfaction, they will eventually take a bite and entertain the idea there is something better out there. What I find more interesting, is how great the deception really is. Sometimes people admit they “know” there is probably nothing better elsewhere but they still want to go look and see. Or sometimes people receive conviction from Holy Spirit they are the ones with issues not others in the church, but still leave, refusing to stay or return home. We regularly witness people walking away from spiritual mothers and fathers in the Lord in lieu of “mentors” simply because they are dissatisfied with what is in church for them! People walk away from “hard” places in order to find an easier place to fit in. But this shall be short-lived because dissatisfaction will follow if we refuse to deal with it and go “through” the valley as well as soar like an eagle. We usually will not admit it but we have become a generation of people who stay in a place as long as we are having our needs met, but we keep our options open just in case something better comes along. All the while, we believe we are giving it our all, but in actuality, if we are not investing in people, we are not giving at all. Dissatisfaction digs deep into our hearts blinding us to how little we give and only seeing the negative.
I am not trying to make a case for never leaving a church since people relocate to different cities and states, go off to college, into mission work, and sometimes yes, there appear to be other good reasons. But let us be honest. People are leaving churches for every possible reason, mostly personal, self-centered, and because of dissatisfaction. This is provable because even though the Word of God can be preached and upheld, eloquently or not, people still look elsewhere. Even if the teachings are extraordinary taking us into the deep mysteries of God, if we do not want to apply them, we will still look elsewhere. Even when the praise and worship is God pleasing, leading people into His presence, when it does not suit our style, or if it is too loud or long, we will look elsewhere. Even though the people can be loving and kind, outgoing and passionate, we will look elsewhere when we choose not to invest in relationship. Even if the church has a godly mission and vision we will leave if the leadership does not move in the direction we think they should or when we disagree. And even when the leaders are charismatic, kind, gracious, and passionately in love with God, if we determine them to be too controlling, or do not agree with their decisions we will still look elsewhere. Dissatisfaction has really done a number on the body of Christ. Recently I was sharing these truths with a man and he compared individual churches to professional sport teams who change out their teams yearly or even more often, with people and leaders coming and going continually. I thought it was an accurate description. This should not be so!
God’s answer to dissatisfaction – ASSURED SATISFACTION
The obvious remedy for dissatisfaction is simply to be satisfied. But if that were all it took to combat the dissatisfaction with which the devil taunts, we would see people choosing to stay with their church families through the good times and the bad, learning to be satisfied with where God has them. But it is not enough to simply be satisfied because satisfaction is self-serving. To satisfy means to feel pleased or fulfill a need or desire. Church is not about being satisfied which makes it all the more incredulous Satan continues to buffet the people of God through dissatisfaction. The Word has much to say about not being satisfied, very often in reference to not being satisfied with what God has provided His people, and even worse, His people not being satisfied in Him.
As I read through Scripture about satisfaction, and our tendency not to be satisfied with God, my heart broke as I realized how often I have disrespected and dishonored God through my dissatisfaction in life and ministry. I have often eaten the fruit of dissatisfaction and as a result became confused, bitter, angry, retreating to a place of pity where I would lick my wounds and come out with yet another protective barrier around myself. But I also now praise God for His faithfulness, steadfastness, and His continual willingness to reveal truth in His Word to bring me through these deceptions. He loves His people so much! Though the devil is busy doing his dirty work, God is ever present reminding us He is near and He is holy. He continues to speak to those who have ears, “Keep swimming. Do not take the bait Satan is putting in front of you. I always have your best interest in mind.”
Satan sows dissatisfaction but God sows full, blessed, and absolute assurance we will be more than satisfied. In Colossians 2:2-3 Paul reminds the church of Colossae they are knit together in love with each other and with him and because of this, they attain to ALL riches of the FULL ASSURANCE of understanding. There is no sense of simply being satisfied, but there is an overflowing sense of fullness that leaves no doubt God is in the business of knitting people together for a purpose, and that purpose is to know Him.
Friends, one of the main reasons for church and fellowship is “attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” The entire body of Christ is knit together (Colossians 2:19) and individual churches are knit together in love as evidenced by Paul addressing the churches of Colossae and Laodicea in this section of Scripture. Knowing the Master Knitter has woven us together in love, we choose not to eat the forbidden fruit of dissatisfaction. Instead we choose to walk in absolute assurance and satisfaction that He who began a good work in us will bring it to completion! (Philippians 1:6)
When I think of full assurance the hymn “Blessed Assurance” comes to mind. This speaks of the hope we have in Jesus being ours and of the glory we will experience one day when we live with Him in heaven. But one phrase declares “Oh what a foretaste of glory divine” and another “Visions of rapture now burst on my sight” and yet another “Watching and waiting, looking above, filled with His goodness, lost in His love!” We get to experience this assurance even here on earth because Jesus is ours right here and right now. It is not just something we wait for and obtain when we get to heaven but it is our story here and now. Living in this absolute assurance is most blessed indeed! It wipes away any and all dissatisfaction with God and people and we discover the family of God is the place to be!
My prayer for us all is the prayer of Jesus to His Father in John 17:20-21 “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, and the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”
Let us say “NO” to the devil’s dissatisfaction and say “Yes, and Amen” to all the promises of God in Jesus, to the glory of God through each of us! (2 Corinthians 1:20) May we embrace the absolute assurance in God and satisfy ourselves in Him, staying knit together in love. Amen!