A couple of years ago, when I was convinced that I should be a confessing evangelical, I wrote to my pastor friends who regularly ask me to take their pulpits of my confession of faith, that I have subscribed to the BoC. I felt I must not hide my colors and be honest, I felt that I should come out. Some call this coming out of the closet. I felt that I would be dishonest, taking their churches for 6 weeks or so, assuming the pastoral work of their parish while they go on vacation, is a very serious thing. Besides, they can trust me that when they come back, the church is still in tact, no splits, no people following me to be their pastor etc etc (I have no interest). But knowing in my heart that I no longer held to the doctrine and practice of a Pentecostal and continue taking the pulpit without saying a word is to me being devious. I must not be that way so I wrote them a letter explaining. Since I wrote that letter, none have invited me back. I do not mind this at all. I respect this move. So what is the point of my rambling here?
I absolutely respect the prerogative of not being invited to preach, I would do the same thing too. What was painful was that you are no longer considered a friend since you have changed your "denomination". What was a source of suffering was being isolated as if you did not use to, as said in the Psalms - "walk to the temple together". In order for us to be friends, must we be in the same level of walk, must we be 100% in conviction in order for us to be friends? I found this part of the experience astounding. What more when I wrote that letter, none wrote back or contacted me to ask - "ok, tell us why you are what you are now"? One of them was quite close to me than the others and yet I had to be the one to invite that we might sit and share where I am at.
Let me tell you about the Pentecostal culture. Sadly amongst Pentecostals, your changing church/denomination (in fact, even if you move to another Pentecostal church) is interpreted as a testimony that there is something wrong with them and because you have slighted them, you are no longer to be treated as a friend, even though you have years and years of memories of having warm and caring relationships you shared together. That goes out the door, too. That move you did is to be taken personally. Amazingly for folks who are known to be spiritual, some if not most, act immature. I can imagine being said of me what I heard said of others - "the man has become dead, he has become religious".
No I am not bitter, I realize we are sinners and this is what we do. I do not think I was being naive when I wrote that letter. If there was naiveness it would be in expecting that being frank was something that should be appreciated.
So the moral of the story is this - do not try this at home. When you seek the pure Gospel or focus on the simplicity of just having Jesus or adopt the Cross as your theology, there is suffering involved. You will violate Dale Carnegie's principle of winning friends and influencing people, instead you will create enemies and alienate folks.
29Jesus said, "Truly I say to you, (Z)there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or farms, for My sake and for the gospel's sake, 30but that he will receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and farms, along with persecutions; and in (AA)the age to come, eternal life. Mk 10:29-30.
Sometimes, God allows us pain so that in that lostness, He might have an opportunity to comfort us. You are welcome too to share your losses here, should you care. But oh, what comfort these words bring...!