Posts Tagged ‘fear’

What If I’ve been hurt by the church?

Posted: August 24, 2011 by Nathan in What If...
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As far as I know there aren’t too many people that have been hurt by the church worldwide. In fact there aren’t that many people that have been hurt by complete individual churches. However, when most people say that they’ve been hurt by the church they really mean they’ve been hurt by a particular individual or small group of individuals within a church. Don’t get me wrong, this doesn’t make the hurt any less real or what these individuals did any less wrong. It does, however, help us to try and think about it with a better perspective. Would you blame a billion people for the actions of an individual? Would you miss out on winning the lottery because the newsagent was rude?

Whenever we enter into relationship with others we put ourselves in a place of vulnerability. If we are married it is our spouse that is likely to cause us more pain than anyone else. If we have children they are likely to cause us a different by still real and intense pain. Those we love the most and those that love us the most have the likelihood to cause us the most pain. Churches are meant to be places of security, love, care, intimacy, peace and trust. However, churches are made up of people, albeit Christian people. Now, people think that Christians are meant to be almost perfect. Let’s face it many Christians portray themselves that way. Christians should be better people than non-Christians, there is no question about it. Christians have a purpose, a calling, a God who instructs and a Holy Spirit that guide. Christian have been shown through Jesus and the Bible the way they should live and have been put into churches to help them along. However, Christians are still erring human beings with more faults than you can shake a stick at. Let’s be realistic a compulsive liar who becomes a Christian will still be a compulsive liar from one day to the next. Becoming a Christian doesn’t make to perfect overnight. The compulsive liar may double his efforts not to lie once he has become a Christian but he will still struggle with it for years and may never overcome the temptation to continue lying.

Christians are not perfect. The Bible tells us that if we claim we have no sin the truth is not in us and we deceive ourselves. If you join a church and enter into relationship with people there they will let you down, they will hurt you, they will fall short of your expectations and let’s be really honest you will do the same to them. I guess the reason that many people feel hurt, let down, disappointed by the church is that our expectations of Christians is higher than they should be. We expect Christians to be loving, caring, kind, compassionate, trustworthy, honest, patient and selfless. Not only that but we expect that of them 24 hours a day 7 days a week 52 weeks a year. So when a Christian has an off day and every Christian does it is a big shock to the system. We feel doubly let down. Also there are people in churches who not only are not nice and loving and caring they are downright horrible, spiteful, hurtful and abusive. I’d like to tell you that these people are just wolves in sheep’s clothing, they’re not Christians but just pose as Christians to give Christians a bad name. Unfortunately, I can’t. Although there are people like this who go along to church, say the right things, do the right things and act as if they were Christians but in they’re hearts are far from it, there are also Christians who are far far far from what God would want them to be. Churches, like most big organisations are full of a wide range of people, the good, the bad and the ugly.

Jesus knew that His followers would not be anywhere near perfect. In the account of Jesus’ life that Saint Matthew wrote we read…

Then Peter came and said to Him (Jesus), “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.

Jesus knew that we would continue to hurt each other. In this passage both seven and seventy are seen as perfect numbers so when Jesus say seven times seventy the implication is that we forgive our brother as many times as is necessary. I’m not trying to use this passage to say, get over it, forgive and bounce back. All I’m trying to show is that Jesus know that his church wouldn’t be this perfect community of believers who did nothing wrong. He knew that we would be needing to continually forgive each other because we would continually hurt each other. When people are in relationship together hurts happen – FACT! This is not an excuse – we should try and live together in unity, causing no hurt and being loving, caring, selfless individuals as much as we possibly can. However, we ALL make mistakes, we ALL have off-days, we ALL have things we struggle with, we are ALL tempted to do wrong, we are ALL human.

Now, here’s the thing… do we let our hurts, grievances, fall-outs and feuds keep us from what God has in store for us? Do we let these things get in the way of seeking the truth? Do we stop believing because we’ve been hurt? Do we give up the riches that God has for us because we’ve had a tiff with someone? Only you can answer these questions. However, I urge you to seriously think about them. Think about them in the light that one person or a small group don’t represent the whole church. Think about them in the light of Jesus being the only perfect person – he will never hurt you or let you down. Think about them remembering that people are flawed, faulty and very imperfect, but also think about them knowing that you are also flawed, faulty and very imperfect – but that God loves you just the way you are.

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Imagine this…

It’s a Monday (we all know how much we love Mondays).

You wake up with a sore throat.

You go to the car to take your son to school and a tire is flat (and you have to drive several hours out of town in a couple of days for work).

After a conference call meeting for work discussing a huge project with its deadline being tomorrow and many things not being ready for the deadline, you get a phone call from school that your son is sick.

When you get him home, his temperature is very high (103.2 degrees Fahrenheit).

Between work conference call meetings, you drive him to the doctor and back and forth to the pharmacy for medicine.

Unexpected large bills come in the mail, just a few days after your PayPal account has been hacked and hundreds of dollars of money have been stolen from your bank account.

Are you getting a sense that I didn’t make any of this up?

I didn’t.

This has been my week.

So, where is God in all of this?

He is everywhere.  He is my Strength, my Hope, my Guide.  I was never promised a life of ease as a Christian, and neither are you.  Do all of these crazy, unexpected, seemingly unfair things mean that God doesn’t love us or even that He doesn’t exist.

No.  Not at all.  Throughout His Word we can see that His people struggled and we are even told we will struggle as well.  But, as my BSF Teaching Leader said when discussing our Isaiah Bible Study, “People who focus on God see everything else through Him;  those who focus on fear rarely see anything else.”

As Jesus says of His Word and all that He has told us, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Sometimes life seems unfair, but remember Jesus.  Remember what He willingly did for us by being brutally beaten and murdered and left to die on a cross so that He could shed His blood once, for all, to pay the price for our sin before we had even committed it.  And for us, this forgiveness and pardon and freedom is offered as a FREE gift.

Now THAT is unfair.

But I am so thankful that God doesn’t choose to be fair, but instead chooses love.

Will you accept that today if you haven’t already?  If you are running from Him, give up the fight.  Come back to Him.

We would be glad to help you with this if you have any questions.  Just go to our Contact Us page and send us an email…or just comment on this post if you would like.

I’m still learnin’ what I believe. Sometimes I’m a hero, sometimes I’m a fool.”  That’s part of a song I heard tonight on the radio as I was driving.  So very true!!!

Here’s a deep thought for ya’…

If you were to spend only 5 minutes a day hearing negative news (sounds like a fairly typical day, doesn’t it!?!), how do you think that would affect you? Well, as a matter of fact, on that very same radio station tonight I heard that a study was done with just that notion in mind. And, after a certain period of time (maybe a month, but forgive my lack of recall as I have just driven 5 1/2 hours after a full weekend) the group of people who were tested in that way were notably depressed and fearful and even had begun to believe that many of the same very bad things reported on the negative news were very likely to happen to them as well. Sound familiar? Then, stop exposing yourself to all of that negativity (quite possibly far more than 5 minutes a day, I bet!)! As I tell you that, please know that I have 3 fingers pointing back at me.

On a more positive note, some of the most powerful and influential speakers and writers of any time (past and present) have merely written and/or spoken out of the vast amount of great, contemplative thoughts that have poured through their minds! That means, all of those deep things you and I think about all day and night could potentially be channelled into something that can be used to inspire and help others…all from our own deep thoughts!

Contemplate this…”For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” (Proverbs 23:7) Who are you?