November 21, 2023

I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.


Romans 16:17-20


Every so often, pastors must protect the church from a person who has an agenda that does not fit with the gospel. It could be a flyer we won’t put up, or a book we won’t promote. It could be a speaker we can’t welcome, or a volunteer who has strayed into questionable behavior. It could be that someone is doing things under our roof we can’t condone, and they won’t modify or change their stance. It’s not fun to do this work of protecting. But we do it.


However, we can’t protect our members when they aren’t under our roof. You will see and hear things that are awful, deceptive, sensational, but false and wrong. You will hear versions of the gospel message that are skewed or twisted, and you will have to know that what you are hearing is wrong. We often sit down with people who are wrestling with something deceptive or evil they have been exposed to, to talk it all over, to be discerning together.


Paul reminds us that as we wrestle with things like this, we should remember that God who is good is already victorious over anything that is wrong in our world. When he says, “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet,” he is reminding us of Genesis 3:15, when the serpent that spoiled Eden hears that there will be a descendant of Adam and Eve who will crush him finally. That descendant who has crushed evil flat is Jesus. That God will win in the end is not in doubt, no matter the troubles we struggle with in our time. As we remember this fact, sure enough, the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ is truly with us!

For Reflection

Can you remember the last time you had trouble with something in the world (media, a book, a speaker, a news story) that really challenged your faith?


Can you think of a time that something that wasn’t right turned up in your life, your family, your church or community? How did you deal with this?


Who helped you with it?


Dear Lord, my mind and eyes and ears take in all kinds of things during my day and I know not everything is worthy of our faith. Help me as I consider what is an obstacle between me and others, between me and You. I let myself be sweet-talked and derailed by people and ideologies no better than snakes. Lord, help me to be mature and discerning, knowing what builds me and others up, and keep me from falling for trash. Help me to keep my eyes on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Rev. Vicki Franch
Pastor for Pastoral Care