People who do not want to know what happens in Belgium, between the different Christadelphians, better do not read this article. This is mainly provided to give an overview of what is going on again this last few weeks and concerns events that are again hurting many Christadelphians living in this tiny country.
The previous weeks we and fellow brethren got sms-messages requesting money from us. Also other Christadelphian groups in Belgium got such messages. The CBM-connected ecclesia of Brussel-Leuven, after they went looking who was behind such messages, got to find Facebook accounts and websites of a few of them. Of those there were some who liked to make us and them afraid, that if we or they would not pay, we would end up in hell, being punished by God. Also some of those websites checked told their readers that the Christadelphian ecclesia of the CBM connected group in Leuven and the CBM would be racist and would not allow Iraqi and Iranian people in their ecclesia. Nothing of such sort, we know that ecclesia to be a very open one, even having tried to unite all the different Christadelphian groups in Belgium. Though when they tried to warn people on their (private) Facebook account, we too could notice, certain people who are befriended with the ‘Man of the North’ who seemed to spread again false sayings, and who made again a ridiculous accusation (a.o. at Mr. Ampe, the elder of that ecclesia) on their Facebook account, took side of that man who tries to spread hate and division.
When we know as Christians we must “Do to others as we would want them do to us” and have tried to do that several times, even be willing to forgive all the faults they did and the damage they caused, there sometimes can come a point where one wonders what to do. Best is to leave it along and untouched. But in the case of the recent events, when certain Africans tried to bribe some of the ecclesia members, we can fairly well understand why the Christadelphian ecclesia of Brussel-Leuven on their ‘closed or limited access account’, wanted to react and warn their own ecclesia members and the many so called “Facebook friends”.
Strangely enough there were people who found certain things could not be said at that account, though it were sayings ‘between friends’ and not like they accused the ecclesia to bring it into the open or to have it generally viewable on the whole internet. We are aware that with this message it is brought into the open, what that ecclesia did not want to do and for which they were accused. So probably when the friends of that attacker of that ecclesia see this article, they also could come to have their say over here.
As with many rules, this time again we could see that “the golden rule” is not as simple as it seems at first glance. It might seem easy enough to think about what you want, but the proper use of this rule as a guide for conducting ourselves relies on empathy. We clearly saw that certain people reacting against the defender (the Christadelphian Ecclesia) showed no interest of looking what really happened now, or did not want to go to see what happened in the past. They also seem to forget that they were on the private account of the ecclesia, which has to be” considered as them being in the private house of that ecclesia. This is what many Facebook users seem to forget when they are on an account of a person or a private account of a group or organisation. They think they are part of a Discussion Group; Though also in a discussion group one has to behave and has to be respectful to the owners of the Group. But that does seem to be something very difficult on the net. But being allowed on a restricted viewing account, is like being allowed to enter a living of a person. Then it would not be appropriate to forbid the guest and his friends to warn each other of certain dangers and to discuss internal matters. But it looks like the friends of the attacker try to direct what can be said or done in that Private account. When they were welcome to enter the house it seems very strange that they are so against the host and try to limit his right of speaking.
Many also seem to forget that we are not in the position that the other might be or why and how somebody else may be hurt.
Often we are in different circumstances and we also might find people who can not come to see in what for circumstances they are. Before we are going to judge some one else we must know about the case in which the other reacted. We have to consider the circumstances that person or group might be in.
Let us not forget that if we are to act in a way that we would want to be treated, we must first consider how we would want to be treated if we were in the scenario of the other.
We should try to examine the case unbiased, looking at both parties involved. Then we should try to understand what inspires, drives, and constitutes the counterparts and have to figure out where we fit in the picture. We also should be aware that our own perceptions and experiences may cloud our ability to place ourselves, to use a cliche, in someone else’s shoes. We might be able to try them on, and they might hold our feet, but after walking a few miles in those shoes, wither our feet will feel the difference or those shoes will change to accommodate our feet. It will never be a perfect fit.
We also should constantly be aware that by silencing a person or a group one reaches not a solution but can endanger some people or allowing the wrongdoers to do even more damage. By putting up censor one takes away the freedom of speech and undermines the democratic system.
It is a shame the Christadelphians in Belgium are again facing such trouble. Though after the earlier case with Mr. D.H. also several Christadelphian members from our congregation or denomination also do not want to have any contact any more with that man, his organisation, but also not with the ecclesia, which by Mr. Ampe his trial to bring unity, seemed to have brought more division than ever before. We feel pity for this whole situation and the members of the ecclesiae of Brussels, Leuven, Nivelles and Mons. We wish them lots of strength and do hope the man from the North and his friends shall not be able to destroy them, what they clearly want to do.
The Golden Rule does not mean one has to stay silent. It was never the purpose to have such a restricting rule. At other places in the scriptures it is clearly said how the responsible of an ecclesia has to protect the flock and has to warn the members of the ecclesia for malicious people entering or attacking the community. In certain books of the Bible it is even shown that sometimes one has to decide to ban some one from the ecclesia or to dis-fellowship some one.
Mr. Ampe and his ecclesia have done a big effort to get, a by a different ecclesia in England disfellowshipped person, to be reinstated and to have a friendly relationship with him. And perhaps there lies his and that ecclesia their fault. They perhaps had better kept their hands far away from that person and would better have shunned him, though that is something they and we would never like to do. But sometimes it is better to keep away from certain people and to leave them for what they are and for what they do.
Once one has given a hand in friendship and it is refused and misused the Golden Rule does not mean one has to keep it happen and have to keep silent or has to keep covering up the bad things the other person does to one self. We think everybody should have the right to react to false accusation or when unrighteous things are written about them, and that is what that ecclesia had done in its closed circle, but because of it escalating coming again to our ears and we too finding that that man and his actions against the Belgian Christadelphians to be stopped. first everything was discussed between two people, then between them and an other elder, only afterwards to the ecclesia, and only now it comes more in the open, because we think it is something of which we all can learn and because we too want to warn for that dangerous person, who might be as shrewd as a fox.
This message also should be considered as a news message of what goes on in Belgium and should be taken as such and as a text to wonder or think about, how far people want to go to take away the democratic free speech. Because that last part is so much under treat these days, having there so many battles between several religious groups, not to say of having some religious wars going on in these times. But concerning those religious groups going against each other we have been warned in the Bible this to be one of the many signs of the coming of the end-times. And as such we still do have hope.
So let those who love God and who love Jesus share that love with each other and try to unite, even when they might be so different, and live together in peace as different members in the Body of Christ, but let us never close our eyes for what is going on.
God bless you all.
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- Golden rule for understanding in spiritual matters obedience
- Silence is Golden
- The place of civility
- Online with Facebook
- Is Privacy Obsolete?
- Muse of the Day
- Thou Shalt Not Call Someone Empty-Headed
- The Golden Rule and the secret of happiness
- Proverbs 14:34: “Godliness makes a nation great, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”
- Faith Is Freedom
- Sunday Glory
- JudgementJuly 20 @ Proverbs 11-12
- The Age of Entitlement and Backwards Expectations
- Take a Hand & Take a Stand
- Democracy, Kindness and the Fourth of July