If you have been or are a church goer, chances are, you’ve been hurt. Which is a pity. But here’s the thing: if there’s a relationship, and if it’s real, there’s bound to be hurt until the day you grow enough to love without borders. Whether it’s at church, at office, at home or with friends, when you open yourself up to a relationship with another human being, you’re making yourself vulnerable to hurt. The answer isn’t giving up church and shutting yourself up in your cave nor is it church hopping in the hope of finding the perfect one. On the other hand, it is not denial either – deny an issue exists, bury it deep, plaster a smile and go about being a dedicated church member.
Funnily enough, we are more forgiving of most people in our lives unless they happen to be from church. Because in our skewed expectations, the pastor is a perfect human as are the members of the church. We feel entitled to be understood, forgiven, empathized with. But we don’t hold ourselves to the same standards we expect of others around us. We’d rather hold an offense against our brother because he hurt us than admit that one, we are probably guilty of the same crime, or two, that, yes, he hurt us but that we need to love and move forward in the relationship.
I am not, for a second, belittling the horror stories you’ve lived through because of the church. Hurt is real. And, sometimes, it’s okay to step back and let yourself heal, if you have to, before you choose to fellowship again. It’s true that the system as we know it needs to change vastly. It’s ridiculous that doctrines, traditions, performance, politics and fear rule a church where Christ should. But, here’s the unpalatable truth for those of you who are hurting: God loves His church as much as He loves you. Yes, the church doesn’t just mean the people you meet once a week to worship with. It can be three people at a coffee shop enjoying each other’s company in acknowledgement of His goodness over their lives. But it is important to understand that this is the bride of Christ we are talking about and we are a part of it. We simply cannot say we love God if we are going to hate His bride – which is inclusive of churches.
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