Mastering the Peril of the Minority Syndrome

By John Thiel, Audio: mp3

When I was working in New Zealand there were people scattered all over and whenever I went to visit them, I left behind isolated people. They would often feel very much separated and they felt, is this really right? Are we in the right company with such a small number as we are? Is this truly the church of God? This has been the story of a question in many people’s minds even to our own experience now and so the title of this message is Mastering the Peril of the Minority Syndrome and isolation from one another. We need to master this.

If we are Christians, if we are going to follow Jesus precisely the way He really is, notice what it says in the Spirit of Prophecy:

Jesus was among the lowly of the earth. He did not take His position by the side of the learned rabbis or the rulers. He was not found among the potentates of earth, but among the lowly ones. The truth was never found among the majority. It was ever found among the minority.  {TDG 319.4}

Those last two sentences is the introductory thought. The truth was never found among the majority. It was ever found among the minority.The truth as received by the pioneers of the Adventist message is with those who are the true reformers of today; it is a truth that is ever with the minority.

Isaiah 26:17 Like as a woman with child, [that] draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, [and] crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O LORD. 18 We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen. 19 Thy dead [men] shall live, [together with] my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew [is as] the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. 20 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. 21 For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.

You can see this is a Scripture that deals with our time. It is the time just before God is going to let the world be destroyed. He says Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.

When you read that, can you see that this deals with a little company of people while the rest of the world are getting on with their evil ways? Again the truth that we have is a truth that leaves a minority of people. There is a very small number who are called upon to enter into their chambers for protection while the rest of the world is going to meet its final crunch.

Jeremiah 3:14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:

Is that a majority or a minority? Come My children; those of you who have backslidden, the rest of them have gone into corruption but those of us who have backslidden, come, I am married unto you; I will take you one of a city, and two of a family and take you into the church, Zion. Here we see very vividly that what we have been reading is verily a minority picture.

Already the judgments of God are abroad in the land, as seen in storms, in floods, in tempests, in earthquakes, in peril by land and by sea. The great I AM is speaking to those who make void His law. When God’s wrath is poured out upon the earth, who will then be able to stand? Now is the time for God’s people to show themselves true to principle. When the religion of Christ is most held in contempt, when His law is most despised, then should our zeal be the warmest and our courage and firmness the most unflinching. To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few–this will be our test. At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason. The nation will be on the side of the great rebel leader. {5T136.2}

This is very pronounced, isn’t it? What must we have, what strength must we have? When we are in the minority the majority forsake us. To fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few, this will be our test. We must understand what it means to gather warmth from the coldness of others. When you’re cold and there is nobody around that is warm, how can you get warm? We must gather warmth from the coldness of others; we must gain courage from their cowardice and loyalty from their treason. It’s reverse psychology that we need to learn. We need to master the peril of the minority syndrome.

What are the chambers in which they are to hide?– They are the protection of Christ and holy angels. The people of God are not at this time all in one place. They are in different companies, and in all parts of the earth; and they will be tried singly, not in groups. Every one must stand the test for himself (RH Nov. 19, 1908).  {4BC 1143.6}

What was the test? When the majority forsake us we must stand singly and alone. We must understand what it means to be able to stand firm when it feels like I’m the only one because people around me are cold and the few of us that still stay together, it is very hard to find a lot of warmth when there is only a few people. We think I’d like to be part of a larger company that is on fire for the Lord. You know how the terminology goes, you take a coal out of the fire and it goes out. Our test is to be alive and on fire for the Lord when we are separated from a large number of coals. To be tried singly, to stand the test alone is the peril that needs to be faced by a well-equipped mind.

We have just been through an experience of losing many who we thought might be necessary to keep us as a faithful company. Our mind must be equipped to handle these things and not lose our energy and enthusiasm and our fire for the Lord.

What my Mind Needs to have to be able to Stand this Test

There is always danger of being satisfied with a superficial work; there is always danger that souls will not anchor themselves in God, but be content to drift hither and thither, the sport of Satan’s temptations. {OHC 330.2} 

What’s our danger? It is to be satisfied with a superficial job; not anchored deeply in our being in God; being the sport of circumstances, the sport of Satan’s temptations.

The work of the Spirit of God in the heart will develop true penitence, which will not end with confession, but will work a decided reformation in the daily life. There will be manifested an earnestness, a perseverance, and a determination that can be properly represented by agonizing. {OHC 330.2}

This is what I’m experiencing in the ministry with every one that I have laboured for over the years. There is a tendency to fall into a dis-spirited feeling; the battles are too much. We must have an earnestness, a perseverance to have my mind equipped to face the test of standing alone.

The fact that iniquity abounds, that we are surrounded by infidels and skeptics, or by professed Christians who have a name to live,  {OHC 330.3} 

They have a name of Protestant, a name of Seventh Day Adventist.

and are dead, is no reason why one of us should be swept away by the current toward perdition.  {OHC 330.3} 

Isn’t that what happens when a great number drift away? We tend to be under peer pressure to be pushed along with it. It says there is no reason for this to happen to be surrounded by professors of Christianity and to be swept away with the current.

Because there is an almost universal forsaking of God, there is the greater need that we stand firm and loyal.  We must gather the divine rays from the Sun of Righteousness, and reflect them to the world. In the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, we must show forth the praises of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.  {OHC 330.3} 

Nothing but a deep personal experience will enable us to stand the test of the trials and temptations we shall meet in the Christian warfare.  {OHC 330.4}

Nothing but a deep personal experience will enable us to stand that test. That is what I want to deeply imprint upon our minds. Our work is to engage in a personal experience of the depth of our relationship with the Lord. If we don’t have that we will not stand the test. It’s that personal experience with the Lord.

Too often we feel well when everything goes smoothly;   {OHC 330.4}

When everything goes well we are happy.

but when doubts assail the soul, and Satan whispers his suggestions, our defense is gone, and we yield quickly to the arts of the tempter, with scarcely an effort to resist and repulse him, It is not enough to have good impulses. .  {OHC 330.4}

Something excites us but that is not enough.

The soul must be barricaded by prayer and study the Scriptures. Armed with these weapons, Jesus encountered our wily foe on the field of battle, and overcame him. We may all conquer in His strength; but it will not answer for us to suppose that we can dispense with His help. He says, “Without me ye can do nothing.” John 15:5. But no truly humble soul who walks in the light as Christ is in the light, will be ensnared by Satan’s deceptive devices.  {OHC 330.4}

We are surrounded by a world that has lost its spiritual fire. Christians have lost their enthusiasm. As you compare the mentality of the pioneers with Christianity today with our own experience, what energy these people persisted in against all odds. They were truly in the minority. What happened? They were presenting the beautiful message to their churches and their churches disowned them. 50,000 came out; that is a good number; but after the disappointment how many were left? No more than a handful, there was a very small number. Here we are a little handful. This is a repetitious experience.

For one reason or another, people lose their focus upon why they exist. Why we exist today is because we have determined to stand loyal to the original details of pioneer Adventism. Nothing but a personal experience enables us to stand. We have a very clear pointer here in mastering the peril of the minority syndrome we must have a personal deep experience with my Lord, not just an emotional one, but a deep experience. What does this experience, this deep experience, really mean? What is meant by that?

A Deep Personal Experience with the Lord

If the Christian thrives and progresses at all, he must do so amid strangers to God, amid scoffing, subject to ridicule. {OHC 331.4}

We must stand even though we are being ridiculed, strangers among the people scoffed at.

He must stand upright like the palm tree in the desert. The sky may be as brass, the desert sand may beat about the palm tree’s roots, and pile itself in heaps about its trunk. Yet the tree lives as an evergreen, fresh and vigorous amid the burning desert sands. Remove the sand till you reach the rootlets of the palm tree, and you discover the secret of its life; it strikes down deep beneath the surface, to the secret waters hidden in the earth.  {OHC 331.4}

As the palm tree, drawing nourishment from fountains of living water, is green and flourishing in the midst of the desert, so the Christian may draw rich supplies of grace from the fountain of God’s love, and may guide weary souls, that are full of unrest and ready to perish in the desert of sin, to those waters of which they may drink, and live. The Christian is ever pointing his fellow men to Jesus, who invites, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” John 7:37. This fountain never fails us; we may draw, and draw again.  {OHC 331.5}

To have a personal experience is powerfully illustrated in the palm tree. He stands there with the huge ocean of sand all around just like the majority of professed Christians who are dry as the description of the valley of dry bones. In this dry, miserable minority position, standing alone in the desert, he has a personal experience with the water that is deep down in the sand. He points to everybody, this is the way, get a personal experience and reach down into the wonderful life-giving energy that comes from a personal experience with the word of God.

When we are in this alone kind of experience with very little human encouragement around us, the church members, the believers that believe and strive the same way as I am striving, are not around. I am striving so hard to keep myself spiritually alive and there are members of the church, believers, who are not striving the same way as I am. People then come to a conclusion of settling down for second best.

They seek fellowship with friends who are not in harmony with us and eventually become weakened. Is this not true? Is this not what we are seeing? People become dishevelled and they don’t like the fellowship of those that are consistently persevering in this way and finally they seek for second best. They go for those that they know that out there, there has been no spiritual energy that is why we separated in the first place. But they go out there and look for second best instead of concentrating on that which is going to help us through.

Eventually as they go for the second best they become spiritually weakened. They begin to give in here and there in reference to the things that God has said we should do. It gets a bit hard out there to be different so they drift along with their friends.

In seeking fellowship, in seeking company, we should seek where? What is the fellowship we should be seeking? The apostle John was also in the minority and he is writing to the minority. Notice his personal experience.

1 John 1:3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship [is] with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

We have made a personal experience and we are telling you about that personal experience. What for? That ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship [is] with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ. What fellowship are we to look for? We are to look for fellowship with those who have heard and seen, made a personal experience, and are standing as individuals strong in the fear of the Lord like John and the disciples. Because they have gone before us and the pioneers have gone before us, we are to seek their fellowship and we are to seek the fellowship that they had. What was that? It was the fellowship of the Father and His Son Jesus Christ. That is the fellowship that we are looking for, not merely human fellowship. To find fellowship only with those who have a fellowship with the Father and the Son and Holy Spirit; who in fellowship are conquering as Jesus conquered.

What benefit is there for us in loneliness when we need comfort of a brother in faith? Jesus has experienced this very sad experience as it is written, of the people there were none with Him. Even the disciples forsook Him and left. He was left totally alone in a lonely experience, coming to the disciples and saying, can you pray with me? They were sleeping. What a discouraging experience for Jesus. He was looking for fellowship in prayer and He wasn’t finding it. There is no benefit when we need comfort of a brother in the faith and it’s not there. Jesus experienced that.

Hebrews 2:17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto [his] brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things [pertaining] to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. 18 For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.

When we have to stand singly and alone, we are not alone. Jesus stood alone, but those of us who follow in His footsteps are never alone. Jesus is right there with us. Those who have taken Jesus and made Him their fellowship in the atonement,  message and knowledge of experiencing aloneness but finding a relationship with God, looking around us where do we find quality fellowship as was mentioned iwhere in Australia is there another who speaks like this? I thought is there not? The fact is that we will feel as though we are alone. Elijah said that; I alone am left and the Lord had to tell him there are seven thousand others but they are scattered in different places alone. We have the wonderful atonement of Jesus that we may have fellowship with Him when we feel that this minority syndrome is trying to take the life out of us.

We need to have the ear of faith that will not feel as though we are on our own. Here is the One with whom we can have fellowship:

Through all our trials we have a never-failing Helper.  {DA 483.1} 

The test and the trial is I am on my own, we are such a small company and when we come together yes, we can find courage, but then I have to go home and I am on my own. Yes, we will feel that. Through all our trials we have a never-failing Helper.

He does not leave us alone to struggle with temptation, to battle with evil, and be finally crushed with burdens and sorrow. {DA 483.1} 

He does not leave us alone, and it is this mind preparation that we must engage in and have a personal relationship with otherwise we cannot stand the test. This is how to master the minority syndrome.

Though now He is hidden from mortal sight, the ear of faith can hear His voice saying, Fear not; I am with you. {DA 483.1} 

How can you have fellowship with someone that you don’t see? How can you have fellowship with those who have gone before us? Though now He is hidden from mortal sight, we have an ear of faith that can hear His voice, that can sense His presence, that says Fear not; I am with you. That is such a beautiful experience.

“I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive forevermore.” Revelation 1:18. {DA 483.1} 

That reminds you straight away, Jesus was living as a human being, He died in loneliness as a human being and He says I am alive now and I am with you; you are not alone.

I have endured your sorrows, experienced your struggles, encountered your temptations. I know your tears; I also have wept. The griefs that lie too deep to be breathed into any human ear, I know. Think not that you are desolate and forsaken. Though your pain touch no responsive chord in any heart on earth, look unto Me, and live. “The mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but My kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of My peace be removed, saith the Lord that hath mercy on thee.” Isaiah 54:10.  {DA 483.1}

In my experience over the years I have read this statement many times and it sounds so beautifully romantic; it sounds so good at the time that it is delivered but I have observed and experienced with heartache that when it’s most needed it’s forgotten. As I am sharing this subject with you, we must master the peril of this minority syndrome and there is only one way; this is the way. It seems so difficult for people to grasp. This is what I found in my last ministry that I was doing over east. There is a sort of question that keeps on coming right in the midst of the study that says but how can I get hold of this; how can I get hold of it? I answer, I am reading it right now. I am reading it right now; this is how you get hold of it, you take what is written and you engage in the personal connection of what is written there. This is God speaking; this is Jesus speaking to me now through His word.

Take His word and say thank you, this is mine and I have a living connection. That is how. We must study the word. Studying it is not just getting information; it is entering into the experience of the word. If by faith we take these words of Jesus in reality, we will actually sense One drawing near to us and we will never feel in the minority because the Person that is drawing near to us is the fellowship of the Father, the Son, who represents the whole heavenly host.

We are in the majority of the universe. Just here on this little planet we are in the minority, but what’s that? Indeed the purpose of all Bible study is not just to get information; the purpose is to enter into a fellowship through the word with the God of the word.

As Christ lived the law in humanity, so we may do if we will take hold of the Strong for strength. But we are not to place the responsibility of our duty upon others, and wait for them to tell us what to do.   {DA 668.4}

Can you see the big trap if we are looking for fellowship with others, waiting for them to tell us what to do and not having a personal experience? If we do that and then we find ourselves alone, where will we go? We will go with those who have left us. That is the natural consequence because we are looking for people to tell us what to do, but no, it says we are not to wait for that;we are not to place the responsibility of our duty upon others.

We cannot depend for counsel upon humanity. The Lord will teach us our duty just as willingly as He will teach somebody else. If we come to Him in faith, He will speak His mysteries to us personally. {DA 668.4}

We will make a personal experience of someone talking with me and telling me these mysteries that help me to cope when everything is falling down around me. He will speak His mysteries to us personally if we come to Him in faith. What will happen that will satisfy my inward yearning?

Our hearts will often burn within us as One draws nigh to commune with us as He did with Enoch. Those who decide to do nothing in any line that will displease God, will know, after presenting their case before Him, just what course to pursue. And they will receive not only wisdom, but strength. {DA 668.4}

From this relationship, from this fellowship, we will receive wisdom and strength.

Power for obedience, for service, will be imparted to them, as Christ has promised..  {DA 668.4}

We need a personal experience to master the minority syndrome with which we find ourselves. I am sure you can identify with this because haven’t you felt under pressure where you think I have nobody really, I am here all on my own? You begin to become dishevelled in your mind and you think what’s the use? Is this really it? Is this what I am supposed to be going through? Aren’t I supposed to be part of God’s church that is alive and vibrant? Yes, I am. The fellowship which I am going to be part of is a fellowship that is based upon individual personal experience, not somebody else’s experience that I am leaning on.

As we do this personally with the Lord and He is very close to me personally I can stand alone if I have to, but it’s a joy to find others who are doing the same. Jesus was looking for such. As we live today like the apostles lived after their terrible let down on Jesus, they persevered through to the end because Jesus was with them and this must be our own personal reality.

God help us as a little minority. Satan comes along and says, what; you dishevelled lot what is the matter with you? Look at all these other people they are all rejoicing and praising the Lord and you’ve spoiled yourself, look at the mistakes you have made? These are the suggestions that come to us and we think, yes. Don’t forget that he is a liar. The minority are the people who are awake to their weaknesses and sins and who come before the Lord in repentance. Those are the people, not those who are sure of themselves. It’s not the Laodicean mentality; it is the little company who are aware and awake to their weaknesses. When we are awake to that, Satan will use that to try to discourage us. All we are to do is to look to the precious fellowship of Christ with us.

May this fellowship be the comfort to us as we individually stand and when we come together we don’t have to feel as though; what is the use of coming together with such a little company? We come together as we have been. Don’t let anybody discourage you from that. We persevere no matter what. In different places of two or three, they might look to us over here and say, but you are more over there. We feel just as lonely if we look to numbers. We are all dependent on a personal relationship with Jesus.

Let us take hold of the Strong for strength and realise that we are standing on that which has been once delivered to the saints and to defend that, to persevere in doing that, requires a personal experience which I must master. I thank God for these beautiful quotes that we have before us like the palm tree in the desert. Yes we are surrounded by desert and our soul thirsts and we can find it under the sand; obscure, out of sight, but the ear of faith is the root which grasps the moisture. God grant us to achieve that and master this in this syndrome which surrounds us.

Amen.

Posted on July 4, 2014, in Divine Service Sermons and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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