Have any of you ever been hurt by church people? Listen, I’m not talking about how the person, with a fish bumper sticker, flipped you off at the 4-way stop. Or how someone, you go to church with, was rude to you in Walmart. I mean have you been deeply hurt by someone you considered to be a good Christian person? Maybe a preacher or a Sunday school teacher, or just someone you thought had a direct line to God Himself. Let me clarify something. I’m not talking about putting a person on a pedestal, and thinking they’re perfect. My goodness, I’ve lived this life long enough to know that even preachers are just people; they will let you down. Am I making sense here? Have you been hurt by someone in the church who you thought would be the last person who’d hurt you? I’m sure many of you have, and I’m right there with you!
I have to tell y’all, when it happened to me, my first inclination was, and pardon my rudeness, ‘Screw the church and it’s people!’ Have you ever felt this way 👇🏼?
For a little bit, that’s sort of how I felt. Fortunately, God knew we couldn’t stay [completely] out of church or we would’ve spiraled out of control! So, He prodded us to find a new one. However, I have to say that, as hard as I tried not to, I developed a distrust of church people, particularly those in leadership. I’ve been on the inside of the goings on of a church, and in hindsight, some of the things I saw, and experienced, were not remotely how church is supposed to be conducted. Not to mention the hurt we experienced, at the hands of those who were supposed to be godly, went deep! Look, no one is prefect, therefore no church is perfect. Period.
I think sometimes, particularly as new Christians, we have a tendency to trust church leaders so much that we allow them to tell us what we should do instead of asking God. Why is that? It’s because we are immature and don’t feel as if God speaks to us like He speaks to them! It’s because being a Christian is a process, especially if you’re older when you come to Christ. If you’ve lived in the world, according to your own devices for too long, then building trust takes time! Even trust I. God! But let’s face it, we’re human! Isn’t it so much easier to have someone you can actually see and touch to tell you what to do? Well, if you’re a new Christian, and new to all this God stuff, you listen to me, and you listen good! Don’t you dare put anyone, not your small group leader, not an elder, not even your preacher in God’s place!!! EVER! Seek advice yes! But you’d better ask God how He feels about something before you do it. You’d better be going to Him first before you seek advice from anyone! If you don’t believe that He’ll answer you, then try Him! Look, unfortunately there are people out there who will take advantage of new Christians to satisfy their own egos. It’s a control thing.
I’ve been at our church now for going on four years, and I’ve yet to do anywhere near the stuff God has equipped, and called me to do! A tiny, and I do mean teensy part of this has to do with all we’ve had going on in the past year and a half. Mostly though, it’s been out of fear. Fear of not wanting to be hurt by church leadership. Fear of not trusting church leadership. And honestly, just fear of being on the inside. I feel so much safer being ignorant to what goes on at the church during the week. Anyone know what I mean? I get fired up when God tells me to do something, but it’s difficult, because I rather like the bubble in which I’ve placed myself. It’s warm and cozy and safe! But here’s the deal. God doesn’t do great things through us inside of bubbles! It’s not how He works!
Y’all, if you’ve been hurt by the church and/or it’s people, and you’ve been like me and kept yourself at a distance, can we just agree to pray for each other? I mean look, we all have stuff God wants us to do, and they’re most likely not getting done if we’re staying in our safe zones! I know I’m not fulfilling the destiny God has for me! Shoot, I’m barely scraping the surface and I’m not getting any younger! I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to die not having done all God wants me to do. And don’t start saying ‘You don’t have to go to church to do what God wants you to do.’ Pardon me again for my rudeness, but bull crap! Everyone needs to be a part of a church! We need to surround ourselves with likeminded people who will pray for us, help us when we’re down, and hold us accountable. So, if you’re not in church, get your butt in church! If you’re in church, but all you’re doing is attending, or you’re doing just enough to say you’re doing something, but it’s not what God has called you to do, because you are scared and don’t want to be more involved; put on your big girl/boy draws and start stepping out in faith! Yes, I’m sure that was (somehow) a run on sentence, but I really wanted y’all to feel the exasperation! Come on, I’m not an English scholar! And look, I’m preaching to myself here! I need prodding, prayers, and encouragement as much as anybody else!
Y’all, I know you’ve heard this, and it really is so cliché, but people, all people, will let you down, but God never does! I’m trying to start being thankful for what God has shown me through my hurt, instead of being bitter about how I was treated. The best advice I can share is don’t seek the approval of others, and only worry about pleasing God! Stop worrying about what others think and do the next right thing! If you’re in a church where you feel you can’t do what God has called you to do, and you’re sure it’s what God wants you to do, get out! Do what God has called you to do, even if you have to go somewhere else to do it! It’s scary, but I can tell y’all that I felt like God wanted me to leave where I was long before I left! And I reckon He allowed me to go through some rough stuff, because I was too stubborn, and in many ways too comfortable to listen to Him!
If you’re new in this walk, ask God for wisdom! Ask Him to help you avoid the normal pitfalls of doing church. And ask Him to help you to look to Him when something does happen! We can’t do life alone! And we can’t just exist and still fulfill our destinies! I don’t need to know how you were hurt, but if you want me to pray for you, for healing from a church hurt, just comment that you need prayer! I’ll pray for you and you can pray for me! Let’s see what God does! I’m optimistic!
Am I now trying to get people to think well of me? Or do I want God to think well of me? Am I trying to please people? If I were, I would not be serving Christ. Galatians 1:10