Living in community is difficult. In his day, Paul wrote of the Corinthian church: “I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder” (2 Cor 12:20). Two thousand years later, not much has changed.
Someone asked, “How do you reconcile the fact that this is church and these are Christians?”
I said I don’t bother to reconcile.
Paul has already said that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Eph 6:12). And their favourite sport is to pit Christian against Christian, using another favourite weapon — lies and suspicions planted in their minds, manifesting in destructive words and actions aimed at their target.
But Jesus has already given us a counter strategy: “Bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you” (Luke 6:28). So we are to build up in prayer, those who desire to tear us down.
To be honest, it took time for me to get to that point. As a new Christian, I just gritted my teeth and decided to pray for the person because God said so. But that Christian discipline guarded my heart from stewing in anger and bitterness.
Later, I learned to get my hurt ministered to by the Lord and then pray from that healed place because anyone who would systematically tear down another is seriously wounded herself.
I also saw the fruit in the lives of those who would slander others: inner darkness and torment, disease, and even death. Once, I saw a heavy cloud hovering over them, oppressing them and reaching a dark tentacle out towards their listener. When I saw that in the spirit, I told the speaker and asked her to stop. She did so and the cloud disappeared.
The Word tells us to stop slandering others. The Spirit showed me in one brief instance what was happening in the invisible realm.
Years ago, I met someone who was so offended with another that she went to each church friend to rant against her target. I was rather taken aback by her abrupt approach and couldn’t make head or tail of her story and honestly, didn’t care to. I already knew the problem was her. Her target stayed silent and as far as I know, said nothing against her.
(One thing I have observed throughout the years is that people who are walking in the Spirit can discern the truth. So, if you’re the victim of a smear campaign, take heart. The people who matter are for you.)
One day, she suddenly fainted and her lips and nails started turning blue — a precursor of death; fortunately, she was with other Christians who interceded fervently for her life and rebuked the spirit of death. She revived; a subsequent medical checkup showed nothing wrong. After that incident, she stopped her activities.
God does judge; He also shows mercy.
And so, I learned to let offences go and be at peace.
You can’t change people’s minds about you. Much of it is projection because your looks, mannerisms and attitudes — innocuous to others, but triggering to them — remind them of someone, usually in childhood, who hurt them seriously.
You can only pray for them and then, move on.