Late Monday night or early Tuesday morning of this week, our church (Faith Baptist Church of Mason) was broken into and robbed by a thief or multiple thieves. $37 for petty cash was found by them and taken. My new lap top computer and charger were stolen from my study. Snack items and pop were consumed while they were there, which was evidenced by the undisposed trash. From our evaluation, the whole of the church facility, including the sanctuary, was pointedly searched and left ransacked. We were left with cleanup and some restoration.
When churches are robbed, the general response from people involves astonishment why thieves would dare to desecrate a facility dedicated to God Almighty and steal money and items used for ministry in the name of God Almighty. After all, stealing from others goes against the point specific command of God Almighty.
Furthermore, even if earthly justice seems to get avoided, a thief still will get confronted with the judgment of God Almighty in eternity. Thieves of churches may get a laugh at the expense of God’s people today, but it will not be a laughing matter when the Lord deals with them face-to-face. As one great preacher put it, “There will be payday some day.”
But, where the water actually meets the wheel in my estimation is that church thieves become symbols of greater spiritual atrocities. Consider the apparent mindset of church thieves. Church thieves apparently esteem themselves and their personal addictions more important than the will of God Almighty. Church thieves apparently have no respect for God Almighty. Apparently church thieves are very willing to disregard the Eighth Commandment of God Almighty, “Thou shalt not steal.” Apparently church thieves think that God Almighty cannot do anything to them.
What is actually mirrored through the church thief is the reflection of the mindset of society at large, and even some people associated with the church. These mindsets include esteeming self and personal addictions more important than God Almighty, no respect for God Almighty, no regard for the commands of God Almighty, and the opinion that God Almighty cannot do anything to them and would not be willing to do anything to them even if He could. This is church thievery at its worse. But, as one great preacher put it, “There will be payday some day.”
It is bad enough that society at large so willingly minimizes the expectations and principles of God Almighty, but it is worse yet that people associated with the church are so willing to rob God Almighty openly and without regret. If people associated with the church are so willing to rob God Almighty, do you not figure that such sets an unwitting example for the rest of the world to follow?
The people associated with the church rob people of the priority of God when we ourselves disassociate ourselves from loving God with the whole of our heart and soul. We rob people of the love of God when we externalize racial prejudice. We rob people of the love of God when we are not obedient to the command to love others. We rob people of the respect of God when we decline the respect for the judgment of God.
We who are of the church—-and others—-are right to decry the desecration brought on by church thieves. But, when we consider the blatant ways in which we rob God Almighty ourselves, we should seriously consider the recourse of repentance, seeking the forgiveness and restoration of God by way of honest, heart-felt confession.
My seminary roommate, John, was from South Carolina. His father owned a certain business, which was robbed a couple of times. In telling me about one particular incident, he said, “There is only one thing worse than a thief.” I said, “What would that be, John?” He replied simply, “Two thieves.”
If such a consideration is applied to the church, it is no wonder why the church and consequently our nation are in such a deplorable moral and spiritual quandary. The church is often congregated by attending thieves who need to stop their own brand of thievery.
The Rev. Ron Branch is pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Mason, W.Va.