The middle aged woman sat there in shock and listened as a fellow member of the church she attended at that time, referred to her as...'Miss Thing...'! Her so called, 'sister in Christ' spoke into the mic and stared pointedly at her...her tone derrogatory and cruel. The woman looked at the speaker and wondered...how could one, who professed to be a Christian, display such a obvious resentment of her and her God given 'gifts' in the church?
As time went on and the obvious pettiness steadily grew, she was so thankful to God that the pastor and other members favored her and also that her husband was a source of much strength for her. Thus...she didn't feel like she was 'swimming alone', while an enemy tried to devour her...in the name of 'Jehovah'. She knew she was never really alone...Jesus was always there and it helped to know that the smiles and hugs which she received were authentic and not hippocritical, because that meant they were praying for her.
The woman did not hate her self-appointed adversary...there was something inside that would not allow her to, but she did not like her ways. And she prayed that God would never allow her to become so full of resentment and covetousness for anyone that she forgot to treat them the way Jesus would.
Her prayer was heard and over twenty years later, she found herself still happily married, with God having elevated her and her gifts to the platform of an evangelist. She now belonged to a different church and was a strong alto on the praise and worship team. She had been through a lot but she was content and her faith in Jesus had grown immensely.
So it was that on a particular Sunday morning, she watched and listened as a Holy Ghost filled elderly sister, desperately seeking a church home, allowed God to have His way with her. She continued to watched as the sister eagerly came forth and responded to the 'invitation' of membership. The senior sister was a second soprano and when she raised her voice in praise, a strange feeling filled the evangelist...a feeling she has not felt before.
And the 'stirring' did not go away but began to rise up in the leader. It was a stirring full of 'covetousness and resentment' towards the new woman and the obvious gifts God had placed in her. The woman was very honest about her capabilities and inabilities. "I can't," she said, "sing with a group. And it is better for the music to follow me rather than for me to try and follow the music." She let them know that she was not a 'seasoned' singer, nor did she have a collection of accompaniment music and most of the songs she felt inclined to sing, she couldn't find the music for them.
Whether she was understood or not was never quite clear, but what was clear was the fact that the evangelist continued to resent her and zeroing in on her inexperience, found that the task of 'tearing down' the new member would be easy. The new woman knew no one well in the church, so she knew there was no one she could turn to and she wasn't married. This meant that she was relatively alone...or so it appeared. Thus, God's 'anointed', the evangelist, proceeded to bring forth 'messages' from God...telling the new member all the things she was 'not'. Underdeveloped abilities were purposely and deliberately attacked and what should have been 'helping hands' became 'claws' ripping away at self esteem and confidence. Why, even words of encouragement from others were at one time met with a cruel taunt from the 'anointed' leader.
But it suffices to say that many of the aggressive un-Christian like tactics failed and though the new member's faith continuously took a beating and her refusal to 'hit back' was taken for weakness, it became apparent that she would not let go of her faith...for God, knowing all true intents of the heart, was on her side! She was 'not' alone and indeed, she did have a protector..His name was Jesus! It was only with much prayer and the Word of God that the new member was kept afloat time after time and scriptures such as Jer 5:27-31, Ps 37:3-8, Ps 34:19 and Matt 5:43-48 continuously soared through her spirit.
One can only image the great surprise of the senior member, when one Sunday morning, she sat spellbound in church as she listened to the evangelist testifying of her experience from the past. She could hardly believe her ears and she wondered...how could the evangelist, who professed to know God, have forgotten and become so 'blind'?! So blind...whereby she could not see how she had 'traded places'. For, the once oppressed had become an oppressor! The very type of person that she had prayed so many years ago not to become...she was!
Right there and then the new member understood so much...she knew why God was allowing the attack that was rendered upon her. He wanted her to see what He didn't want her to become and to see how easy it was for one to 'slip' into sin...no matter who they were in Christ. 'Flesh' has always been and will continue to be one of the major downfall of so many earnest Christians.
And she made a vow to God; she would 'never' trade places. She would always remember...never to forget...being oppressed. Thus, by doing so, she would never become an oppressor.