On the Loneliness of The Remnant (Comfort and Encouragement)

Phyllis Nissila

pulic domain flower in cementA fellow blogger over at closingstages.net has posted two recent, eloquently written commentaries [1] on his feelings over leaving the institutional church, at least the institutional church that has shifted from, these are my words, the Rock of Ages to Whatever Rocks Your World and/or that increasingly promotes the “words” of some Church CEO over the Word of God.

     I align with the blogger’s feelings and his concerns and those of others’ of like mind and heart, and I have begun to think of our day in Church history as another “Remnant Time.”

     Remnant Time?

     Historically, believers reduce to a remnant when due to outside pressures or “inside” convictions they, few at first, find it necessary to separate themselves from what has become or what is becoming of the man-made institution known as “the church” because of the encroachment of false teaching.

     I say “man-made” as opposed to what a close read of Scripture reveals about the “real church” which is not brick and mortar, rather, flesh and blood. Spirit, more accurately.

     All who are “the church” by the occasion of our spiritual re-birth do not “attend” church, we “bring” the church “in us” so to speak, to buildings where we gather with others for worship, teaching, and other ministry. Likewise, then, we bring the church everywhere else we go.

     But being human, people sometimes forget all this, I think, what with the allure of external trappings and our proclivity to regard what is seen as the definition of what is not seen and to confuse who is elevated in status in the world with Who is the true Head, Jesus Christ.

     And, of course, there are those who intentionally exploit both our proclivities and our eye for shine (not to mention ignorance of Scripture) for personal gain.

     But back to the remnant. Perhaps the most well-known of such eras was the period of time known as The Reformation when Martin Luther began the return to God’s Word, back to sola scriptura, as opposed to sola Roman Catholic Church with all of its extra-biblical ideas and dogmas. For a period of time only few followed him in part because of the danger of it, in part because it took time for the word to spread.

     Many who follow prophecy believe these days are the end of another era, the so-called “Church Age” just before the Great Tribulation, in which a key element is apostasy, that is, a falling away by many from core tenets of the Christian faith.

     But just like true believers in Luther’s era found it hard to depart from the Catholic church, it is hard for us to walk away from some churches now, too. Heartbreaking, at times. We don’t think of the depth of the emotional fallout until after we express our sincere concerns to the powers-that-be about all the changes taking place and we come to understand we are being ignored, mocked, or rejected in one way or another.

     Others—church and family members, friends—who are either yet unaware or are aware but don’t care—look at us askance.

     “Really?” They say. “And you think you know better than (fill in the blank, here: those with “the authority,” “the annointing,” the fancy educations, the charisma, and/or the vast wealth which must surely indicate “God’s blessing,” etc.)?”

     Well, no, we respond , it’s not about me at all. Or even you, or them. Can’t you see, we plead, that whereas the Scriptures teach such-and-such, the pastor, institution, teacher, or famous Christian author now claims such-and-such? Can you see this just doesn’t mix with classic Judeo-Christian thought and teaching?

     More importantly, we emphasize, do you understand the danger there?

     We want them, as the lyrics of the song “Say Something” embedded in one of the Closing Stages blog posts referenced below suggests, to, well, SAY SOMETHING, something of explanation or comprehension, even if we have to “agree to disagree”. Indeed, we long for them to say anything, because we realize we are, though sorely reluctantly, “giving up on (them) now.” For the sake of truth, we must “give up” on “them” as in those who choose the gospel du jour over the Gospel.

     Or maybe, stepping completely away from the suggestion in the song video, it is the other way around in the relationship. We are the ones “saying no more” because we cannot say what they want as it does not align with truth or, worse, hostility has emerged.

     They won’t, can’t, or don’t want to respond as we long for them to.

     We come to understand that it’s us who must now leave.

     And when the emotional dust clears, we realize here we are with the rest of us lately from the fray, sad, spent, and…

     …alone.

     Or at least, so it feels.

     We take a last long look at the pretty stained glass windows and the group of people among whom are loved friends and family members. We gaze for a few final moments at the treasured artifacts of our spiritual youth and/or adulthood, the pot-lucks and Bible studies and summer camps and we then enter the next phase of, in this context, “following Jesus”: grieving over what was and what we know can no longer be. We trade incense for frankincense and myrrh…

     The words of an old worship chorus, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus,” come to mind just now:

I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
I have decided to follow Jesus;
No turning back, no turning back.

Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
Though I may wonder, I still will follow;
No turning back, no turning back.

The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
The world behind me, the cross before me;
No turning back, no turning back.

Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
Though none go with me, still I will follow;
No turning back, no turning back…

(Join “Elevation Worship” for their arrangement, below [2]).

      The loneliness of this realization rests heavy because just as we were “re-born” singly through our solo repentance and acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, our “departure” is solitary, too, even if accompanied by one or two of like awareness. It is also hard because human beings are designed for fellowship.

     And it is difficult at first because when the doubts and fears crop up in our minds and hearts in the remembered voices of those who think we are crazy, deluded, or apostate ourselves, it is just us, there, in the room, in the stillness.

     With only God’s Word for friend.

     But, ah, and here is the comfort I promised in this commentary: God’s Word, His sayings in the text and through the Word Made Flesh, Jesus, are the same “yesterday, today, and forever.” And they are still powerful.

     While emotions are settling and heart, healing, I encourage each of us—each of you –of the “remnant” to savor the “words” God has already spoken to you on your spiritual journey, words that have guided, delivered, and saved you in days past. Words that have restored you and nurtured you out of other lonely times. For these same words have not lost their potency.

     Review them once again and remember that indeed, you are not alone. He–and we also of the remnant, in increasing numbers–are “here,” too. But most importantly, He Who is both the author and finisher of your faith (Hebrews 12:12)  has promised to “never leave nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

     Be comforted with these words also:

     “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:20, NIV).

     “God sets the lonely in families, he leads forth the prisoners with singing…” (Psalm 68:).

     “Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me” (Psalm 27:10).

      “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

     And “to the future,” one more “word,” this one an encouragement: I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go: I will counsel you with My eye upon you” (Psalm 32:8).

     God has not left His post. He has not forgotten you, and He will continue to guide you, spiritually—and emotionally—to the day when multitudes from every era and tongue assemble together in eternal praise and thanksgiving.

(Easter Sunday 2014).

***

[1]

http://closingstages.net/2014/04/13/the-loneliness-of-the-christian/

http://closingstages.net/2014/04/20/say-something/

[2] http://library.timelesstruths.org/music/I_Have_Decided_to_Follow_Jesus/

Elevation Worship” in their version, here:

Photo from the public domain.

 

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This entry was posted in Commentaries, Easter/Good Friday themes, encouragement in hard times, most recent posts, spiritual survival, survival tools and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to On the Loneliness of The Remnant (Comfort and Encouragement)

  1. Pingback: End Times Prophecy Headlines: May 22, 2014 | End Times Prophecy Report

  2. Pingback: OF INTEREST: Independent Thoughts from Around the Internet May 21, 2014 | End Times Prophecy Report

  3. Thanks for sharing this vital post with me. Pastor G and I have written for years about this subject regarding denominational doctrine and doctrines of men as opposed to what God’s word teaches. The good news is that people can be sincerely wrong about what God’s word says and still be with Him for eternity. We belonged to a fellowship where the members were converted to the founder and not God for the most part, and when God clearly showed the fellowship where it had wrongly taught spiritual doctrine, the fellowship made changes to reflect the corrections, but there were those who departed in droves because they couldn’t make the shift from what they had been taught to God’s Truth as led by God the Holy Spirit. It was a heartbreaking, spiritually challenging time.

    I pray that many will receive comfort and encouragement from the understanding that when He returns in power and glory, Jesus will take all who are His regardless of denomination or not, and place us in the church He began that’s filled with pure spiritual truth. All other denominations, including the Catholic, are filled with varying degrees of spiritual truth, spiritual error and doctrines of men.

    Today, there are other issues where many fellowships and denominations have capitulated to society instead of stedfastly adhering to what God says about sexuality and how He created us to love and live. Sadly, that was also prophesied in 2Timothy 3:1-5.

    Continue to follow Him and His lead.

    Blessings,
    Pastor Sharon

    Like

    • pnissila says:

      Pastor Sharon,

      RE: “where the members were converted to the founder and not God for the most part.” That expression nails it. There are quite a few cults of personality these days, it seems.

      I look forward to your future posts. 🙂

      Like

  4. nw sister says:

    As a sister who has grieved over deception and insincerity in the Body, I read your post on the white stone remnant blog and resonated with it. I wonder, “Where is the Body dwelling now? Are we to go to home fellowships to search the Word to remind ourselves how He calls us to live?”

    I have recently been encouraged by attending a discipleship retreat that reignited the calling of God to make disciples regardless of fears and flack. To be a biblical disciple that can be followed but not to get into comfortableness to build a kingdom here.

    I am trusting Him to find like-minded believers and I appreciate your sharing.
    He has called me to obedience that is fast becoming unpopular in the mainstream churches. I find comfort in knowing that He sees all and will not be unrighteous in His judgements, but in fact will expose those who mislead others. These are hard times but exciting times as we daily see aspects of what He prepared us for in the Gospels.

    I am going to the conference, Lord willing. Are you?

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    • pnissila says:

      Hi, NW sister!

      I looked at the dates of the conference but I’m booked then, so I’m not going. However, since I found the white stone remnant blog I intend to visit it on a regular basis. Members of the Body of Christ need each other even if it can’t be in the traditional venues.

      I like that : “to make disciples regardless of fears and flack.” It’s come to that, these days, only now, the fears and flack are from the INSIDE of the Church more often than not!

      Blessings,
      P.

      Like

      • nw sister says:

        Yes, the fear of what other people think, or flack, as in what they say, was referring to other Christians….the speaker at the conference was Francis Chan, who challenged us to tremble at God’s word, rather than seek materialistic comfort here. His credibility is considerable, having left the mega church phenomenon that had grown up around him. His examples of walking out biblical obedience were life-changing for me. The Holy Spirit had my complete attention.

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      • pnissila says:

        Hi, nw sister!

        Yes, Francis Chan is quite articulate. Might I encourage a bit of a review of his associates, however, thus, his influences; for example, his alignment at whatever level, with what’s going on over at the IHOP get-togethers. Here is a brief review: http://herescope.blogspot.com/2014/01/the-passion-of-presence.html. There are more.

        Chan is also an associate of Wayne Cordeiro who is one of the Leadership Network notables thick in the establishment of the business model of church growth, a la Peter Drucker. I first came upon Drucker’s very good business model (famously known as TQM or Total Quality Management) in my HR BA program. However, I was puzzled to hear his name, rather his influence, in churchdom. Then, saddened, then shocked that many should now abandon the “narrow path” in favor of the big box church…not that we are not one with multitudes of all times and eras. However, the reality of the “remnant” is also a biblical pattern.

        When I have read Chan and his associates, I worry that the influence of Post Modernism has seeped in. I touched on this idea in a past post, here: https://pnissila.wordpress.com/2012/06/09/on-paradigms-and-postmodernism-in-the-church-watch-your-step/.

        Meanwhile, God judges hearts and thank God we have venues for serious and respectful discussions as we “work out our salvation in fear and trembling,” not to be confused with working FOR our salvation ;).

        Blessings,
        Phyllis

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  5. pnissila says:

    Re: “we do what we can to pull some out of the fire” is the exact phrase my sister and I were discussing the other day. We believe long gone might be the days when multitudes came to Christ as in the days of “the Jesus Movement” of the sixties and seventies when we converted. But obviously “the last one isn’t in yet”! On the other hand, we hear tell that conversions in a certain other part of the world are flourishing due, in part, to intense persecution.

    And so we carry on!

    Like

  6. Mike Rogers says:

    Very inspiring, accurate, and real. Thanks for these heart felt words! God bless you sister, we do what we must to stand in the evil day, we do what we can to pull some out of the fire. In the end may our Lord Jesus Christ get the glory, the praise, for He alone is worthy!

    Like

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