This week on Time of Grace, Pastor Mike cleared up a common misconception. When Jesus said, “Where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them” (Matthew 18:20), he wasn’t talking about the minimum number needed to start a church service. Jesus was talking about bringing an unrepentant person to repentance. It is out of love that we confront those who are straying. Watch the program if you’d like to learn more.
But there are often others who need the help of the church. In my short ministry, I have seen a number of narcissists (usually men) who manipulate their spouses by using every tool possible to keep control. I’m not sure why, but in all the cases I’ve seen, the manipulators use the same tactics.
If their spouse is a Christian, they use Scripture to fill them with guilt and shame. They say things like, “The Bible says, ‘Submit to your husband.’ You are not being a good wife because you don’t submit.” If their spouse stands up for themselves, then they will play the pity card: “Jesus says that you are supposed to forgive me up to 77 times. I know I messed up, but nobody is perfect.” Once they are let back in, they begin to use fear: “If you don’t stay faithful to me, then I’m leaving you and I’ll make you hurt as you hurt me.”
But the most powerful weapon of all is isolation. Manipulators all seem to find a way to isolate their victims from family, friends, and their faith community.
This is where the church needs to step in. The church needs to speak the truth of Scripture to overcome the lies of the person who is being influenced by the evil one. And they need to surround the victim with their presence and support.
This is what it looks like to follow Jesus, who said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep” (John 10:11). Jesus is not like a hired hand who runs away when a wolf attacks. He cares for the sheep until death. As his disciples, we are to mimic our leader, laying down our lives for our fellow believers.
If you are a Christian, you are the church. So when you see someone who is being manipulated or abused, alert the authorities if necessary, call the sinner to repentance, and speak the complete truth of the Scriptures to the one who has been harmed. And most of all, don’t be afraid. Jesus said, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”