When you publicly make a change away from the norm of a “city”, there are varied responses. There are many who outright disown you.
Then there are the people who disagree with you, they think you are wrong, but they will claim to still respect you and claim that it’s not an “area of separation”.
Then there are people who claim to agree with you in private, they will even say that they don’t think you are wrong. But they won’t claim you in public or amongst those who disagree. Your name becomes one that is not brought up or spoken about in hushed tones, trying to come up with an answer without stamping their name alongside yours. Often these will be double-tongued, claiming you in private and outright denying you amongst those who disagree.
You may have a few willing to stand by you and call out “They aren’t unclean!” which brings much relief and gratitude. But it falls on mostly deaf ears. Because in the arena of Independent Baptist opinion…your fate has been sealed.
You have leprosy. You are unclean. You’re a compromiser.
It’s an odd thing to be spoken about in such harsh terms while following the Holy Spirit’s clear direction. It can be likened to looking in a mirror and seeing clear skin, while multitudes of people keep talking about the leprosy that has taken over your body. So you look again…”is my skin really clear? How can it be clear when so many see leprosy? Am I sure there’s no leprosy?” When people you trusted and respected see leprosy where you see clear skin, it does damage to a person.
And if you dare to speak up about the way you are being treated, you are met with comments that sound like these: “You have leprosy, not by accident, by choice. You chose the leprosy. How dare you act surprised or hurt when people begin treating you as unclean??”
Or, “We are praying for you. We love you. But we can’t have you in to preach or speak. We can’t publicly act like we are friends. We must always introduce our friendship with a disclaimer.”
Or, “We can’t allow you to influence our young people…But don’t go find another city!”
You see, deciding to go to another city where you aren’t treated as unclean, further validates them. Because now they can say, “See they were compromising all along!” “I told you they weren’t one of us!” ….Because who would want to stay in a city where they are left in rags sitting outside of the gate when there are other cities that would welcome them with open arms?
What do you think it does to children to hear their parents talked about in such a manner, time after time? The same parents who teach them about God and His Word every day. The parents who love them and are raising them in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Do you think that draws them to Christ or pushes them away?
Sure…we “chose” our leprosy. Just don’t be surprised when we protect ourselves and our vulnerable children. Don’t act shocked when we walk out the gate and find a city that doesn’t see us as lepers and won’t treat us like we are unclean.