We’re all going to be hurt in life. By our sisters and brothers and by those who don’t claim to know Jesus. It hurts more when the people who hurt us know Jesus and if they are leaders in our churches. As Christians, we are to forgive them. That may not always look like staying in one location to “sweat it out”, but if we leave to find a new place to worship it is still our responsibility to forgive those that have hurt us, even if no apology has been given.
Here are some thoughts that my husband would like to share.
To the Christian:
We will all be hurt. Through it we will be broken. Through our brokenness we will hopefully lean into Jesus As He is the only one who can make us whole. As Christians, we run to Him for answers, hope and fulfillment. A precursor until we are in heaven with God as our warming Sun, all which was his intention before Adam’s fall.
If you are like me, you tend to worship man, rather than God. Man fails. Because of this, almost every time the man we worship fails we are failed. This is our sinful nature’s fault. This is dangerous.
Do not worship man. Worship Jesus.
Through this blink of life we will constantly struggle with being hurt by others close to us. Even more so, if we worship or put our trust so deeply in them that when they do fail, we feel like we were failed. Guess what? You were failed.
This especially applies to the church setting. I have been failed by the church (brothers and sisters, pastors, leaders and the organization itself). It hurts, I have failed to run to Christ and only bitterness brews. Sometimes for years and even decades. It could even be for a lifetime. The solution is simple really-we should hold on to and look only to Christ. He is the one who never fails and loves those that fail him. He is very patient.
Regarding the Church:
Unfortunately, church membership and leadership is made of people. All people are sinful. Many people who have different personality makeups. The closer we get to them, the closer it is to family, even marriage and it can be bliss. But there are rough times too, just like in any family/marriage the church has failed us, just as we have failed the church. My wife sees most of my faults and even the ones I try to hide can rarely escape her. But amazingly, Christ sees them all and by his grace he continually loves me.
If my wife cheated on me, it’s biblical for me to get a divorce. I think that is the only reason really. Would I? I don’t know and I pray I never do. We can often mistake a Church as a marriage and want a divorce from her. I guess that’s fine, but as a Church aren’t we the Bride of Christ as a whole and really the only groom is Jesus? He never fails and still embraces us. What?
I’ve found that if someone in church leadership fails me, in life it may take a while, but when looking to Christ and asking his forgiveness for….What? Ask his forgiveness? What do you mean, I’ve been wronged!!!! Yes, perhaps I have been wronged. But it only affects me if I’m making man His surrogate. Making man my savior. So if and when I ask his forgiveness for worshiping the man, I will be freed. Freed to forgive those that have hurt me and ask Jesus for forgiveness for putting my hope in them as a savior.
I can’t think of anything worse than a church body demanding that their godly marriage needs be met by the church. It’s our job as the church to point everyone to Christ. You know what? Jesus wants to fulfill that marital relationship with his body. Not just you or me, but every person who loves Him. The Church. This can only be done if constant relationship is pursued. I think we can all agree that Jesus holds up his side of the marriage much better than I/we do.
If you are angry at Church leadership, work it out through prayer and fasting, don’t take it lightly. If Church leadership has failed you, it’s not your Job to make it whole, but to forgive. Jesus will judge those in leadership, specifically teachers, more harshly. Now if you make it your job, bitterness will creep in. Do an honest heart check. Are you bitter?
The President of the United States is a good example and an extreme one. If he misspells a word, everyone talks about it. Like he is the savior, and their savior failed. Maybe it’s a “shame on him” because he is trying to be a savior. Maybe it’s “shame on us”, because we are putting him in that role. If someone in leadership with the weight of shepherding the body and pointing them to Christ fails you, but continues to point you and those around you to Christ, love them. They aren’t perfect and the Bible says to pray for them. You have no idea what burden and calling God has required of them. Give them grace even though their personality may conflict with yours, especially if their ministry is fruitful and people are giving their lives to Jesus. Fruit is there, it’s not invisible. You can see it. Not only that, God is still working in this man/woman that may have hurt you.
If church leadership is going against the Bible, saying Jesus didn’t rise from the dead, cheating on their spouse, getting drunk, stealing, cannot quit their porn addiction or points you to anything but Christ, then address them individually, then bring them before the body so they can be healed. Otherwise, continually pray for them and try to love them unconditionally.
“Christians fighting against Christians for the Glory of God!” I can see the picket sign now. Is there any Glory in that? That just isn’t biblical. It’s ridiculous and foolish and only leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those who Jesus has been priming to be His. My mouth doesn’t taste good either.
To the Non-Christian:
God loves you and created the Universe to display His glory and wonder of Himself to you. He loves you so much that He decided to let His Son, Jesus, die in your place so you could be with Him eternally, but only if you accept Him.
We Christians are a bunch of sinners, trying to do life together. We’re saved by grace, but it doesn’t mean we’ve stopped sinning. Jesus died for us, as much as He died for you.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
Just like any family it’s messy. Church is a family. We’re messy and imperfect. It’s God’s grace that He’s held the family together for this long.