Have you ever been hurt by the church? It’s been said that if you haven’t been hurt in church, you haven’t attended long enough.
This issue has really been on my heart because recently I’ve had not one, not two, but several conversations with people about how they have been hurt by the church. As a result, they have expressed difficulty trusting Christians, difficulty returning to church and so many are not worshipping in church anymore, or some are but they aren’t sure who they can trust.
Tactics of the enemy
This grieves my heart because this is the work of the enemy of our soul. The enemy does not want us to be in unity as believers. The enemy does not want harmony. The enemy seeks to bring discord, strife, and accusation. These are the tactics of the enemy because he doesn’t want us meeting together.
It’s always interesting to me when people say, “I’ve been hurt by the church, so I’m not going back.” Or, “I’ve been hurt by the church so I can’t trust Christians and I’m not sure who I can trust.”
In reality, the church is made up of Christians but we’re no different than anyone else in that we are all sinners. What makes us different from others, however, is that we have recognized our need for a Savior and we’ve been saved by His grace. But all of us, in the church and outside the church, are in the process of being refined by God so that we will look more like Him.
So if you are looking for the perfect church, with perfect members, perfect attendees, perfect Christians, you’re not going to find it. Because we are all there, on our own journey to becoming more and more like Him. Saying that you’ve quit the church, or you’re no longer going to attend church because you’ve been hurt by the church, is like saying you ate in a restaurant and got food poisoning, so you’re never ever going to set foot in a restaurant again. It’s just not reasonable.
If you are one who has been hurt by the church, or by fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord, I am sorry. I am. I am sorry because I know that pain. I have been hurt. Even fellow Christians who are near and dear to me have said things or done things that at first, really hurt my heart. It pierced and wounded me. But then I realized: it’s not even them. It’s the enemy working within them.
Forgive those who hurt you
When I’m able to separate people from their words and their actions, and recognize it’s not them, but it’s the enemy that dwells within them, then I’m able to extend forgiveness, and mercy, and grace, and respect, and love. I’m able to forgive them just like Jesus did on the cross. Jesus said, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” I think that’s what He meant. He realized what they didn’t realize: that they were allowing the enemy to work through them, so they didn’t even really know what they were doing.
But to say that you’ve been hurt by a Christian so you can’t trust Christians anymore is like saying a dry cleaner ruined one of your outfits so you can’t trust any dry cleaners anymore. That’s just an excuse. It’s a copout.
Scripture tells us in Hebrews 10:25, “And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.” That is so important because as we meet together corporately as a body, we worship together, we pray together, we praise together, and we have an opportunity to encourage one another. We need that so desperately in this world where so much is going wrong.
Encourage each other
There is so much that is bad in the world, so much evil that is just infiltrating its way into every aspect of our lives. We need each other in the body. We need to meet so that we can lift each other up, and encourage each other, and remind each other of God’s promises. But the enemy would like to convince you not to go. The enemy would like to keep you from attending Bible study. The enemy would like to convince you not to gather because that is where we draw strength. That’s where we encourage each other. That’s where we can hold each other’s arms up.
The church should be a safe place where we learn to interact our of love and grace, working through hurts and disagreements, so that we are better prepared for the relationship challenges we will face in the world.
I pray that despite the hurts you may have experienced, that you will continue to meet together, to encourage one another. We encourage one another in our company. Community affords the opportunity to encourage each other.
May you encourage one another as you wait to see how God wants to use you, work through you and in you.
Have you ever been hurt by the church? How did you walk through the pain?
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!