The church’s worst enemy is the man of little faith within the membership, not the faithless man of the world.
These words, attributed to D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, should cause every church leader to pause. Maybe this is why Peter wrote:
” Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name. For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:12-17, ESV)
God desires a pure, strong, church to impact the world. He will purify it himself if leaders do not guard it themselves. Maybe that is why Peter continues in the next chapter with the command to leaders: “Shepherd the flock of God among you ….” Good shepherds will watch out for the flock, they will seek to strengthen the weak Christian and shore up the faith of the wavering one. They will guard it from those who would undo things from within because the church is not ours, it belongs to the one who sacrificed himself for it.