I have been hearing about the imperfections of the church within days of receiving Christ as my Lord and Savior. Within local churches there is always somebody offending, somebody upset with this sister or this other brother, some disappointment or wound somewhere. People hurt people; it is a matter of time!
We are all, as Christians, encouraged to walk in the Spirit, that is, walking in love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.However, often times, because we also have to deal with the nastiness of our flesh, we walk in sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions, envy; drunkenness and orgies.The Born Again experience does not mean that we are immune from walking in the nastiness of our flesh. If the right bottom is pushed, we will find out exactly what our true level of spirituality is.
There is hurt everywhere! You will be hurt in your jobs, in your community, in churches and even in your own family. Humans have been hurting other humans since the beginning of times. We will hurt other humans by the decisions we make, by the things we say and even by our body language. We serve a mighty and good God, but we are not mighty, and we are not good either; none of us are.
The Bible guarantees suffering.That is why in the Christian faith forgiveness is at the center. Because suffering is a sure thing, because people will hurt us and we will hurt them; because there will be disappointments, betrayals and much pain, we must always be willing to forgive. God has given all of us the ministry of reconciliationand He has made it clear that forgiveness is key for us receiving our own forgiveness. Matthew 6:14-15 tells us,
For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions. (NASB)
I say all of these things to say that the solution to deal with church hurt in particular is not by removing God out of the equation. The solution is not to discourage the gathering of the saints. The solution is not to justify why a person should stay away or be exempt from becoming a part of a local church. I don’t want to be insensitive from whatever church hurt you have been a victim of; however, I want to remind you your biblical duty to forgive and also warn you not to let your pride get on the way of your responsibility as a believer. Hebrews 10:23-25 tells us,
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; 24 and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, 25 not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. (NASB)
On these verses we are encouraged to 1) hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering. After this he takes the time to describe how to hold on to that confession by 2) reminding that God will fulfil his promises. He continues by encouraging us to 3) truly learn to love one another by intentional acts of kindness towards one another. Lastly, 4) he seals his point by establishing that these things can only be fulfilled when we share space and time together; that is, the assembly.
Church hurt is not a reason to move people away from God and the assembly; church hurt actually accelerates the need for such assembly. Is God not big enough to deal with our pain? Do we feel qualify to keep people away from God by offering man-made solutions? Anything secular is ultimately designed to keep people away from God, is an attempt not only to question our need for God, but to question his existence altogether. For the Body of Christ to rely on any secular system is an insult to God. Jesus is uniquely qualified to heal the broken; it is exactly what he came to do. In Isiah 61:1 the Bible tells us,
The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners; (NASB)
As Jesus initiates his ministry, he quoted these exact words in Luke 4:18. So why do we feel the need to keep people away from God or the assembly? Why do we attack the church so much? Why do we become the accusers of the bride? I am not arguing that we as the church MUST get better; but I assure you that we are getting better. Is God not faithful to finish the work that he has started on each one of us? None of us has arrived yet, we all have a long way to go; but that is the work of the Holy Ghost. God promise that he will finish what he started in us.
In conclusion, don’t judge a product that has not been completed yet. We, as the Body of Christ, are a work in progress; all of us are. We need to give folks truth and grace; that truth and grace comes from God. That is the example of Jesus.We are called, as mentioned before, to reconcile people to God not to find justifications to push them further away.
Key Bible verses for this article:
2 Corinthians 5:11-21
Imagine for a minute you or me teaching a group of kids the game of basketball. Imagine also that in the middle of our practice the great Michael Jordan shows up to volunteer his time to teach these kids. Jordan comes in and says, “Hey guys, don’t worry, I got it from here.” Nevertheless, imagine if we tell Jordan, “I appreciate you MJ, we can use your help; may be this afternoon we can use you to teach the kids; how to do free-throws or something. For now, make yourself comfortable, we will call you if we need you.” How stupid do you think this is?
Without knowing how stupid we sound, many brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ adopt a similar approach when it comes down to God’s Word. John 1:1 tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (NASB) We can’t separate God from the Word. We are talking about God here! To place any man-made science at the same level of God or, as a substitution to God is absolutely ridiculous.
First Corinthians 3:19 tells us, “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God…” (NASB) In First Corinthian 1:25 Paul also states, “Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” (NASB) How dare we, as Christians, place any ideology, science, method, etc. at the same level with God? These disciplines could be useful; I don’t deny that, but they must bow down to God. God is not just a part of something, God MUST be at the center.
Some of the excuses I hear for not teaching God’s Word is that a different approach should be followed for people who have been hurt in the church. Can’t God not handle hurting people? Is His power that limited?People are hurt in the church for essentially three reasons: 1) Misrepresentation of God’s character and ways, 2) people’s own sin and pride and 3) the normal imperfection of humans. Humans hurt humans all the time. What is then the remedy for this, very simple, you give folks the truth. The Bible tells us, “…If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” (NASB)
There is no freedom of anything without knowing the truth. This is a good lesson for any ministry to learn. If God is not at the center, then you don’t have a ministry, what you have adopted is a form of godliness; this form of godliness rejects God’s power. At the end of the day, when God’s power is denied, you will see very little progress taking place.
But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these. 6 For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith.9 But they will not make further progress; for their folly will be obvious to all, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also. 2 Timothy 3:1-9 (NASB)
Noticed in in verse 7 Paul states, “…always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” These are people with degrees, highly educated, powerful folks and well respected. Nevertheless,with all of those degrees and information they are never able to come to the full truth. It is indeed expected that the world resists God’s Word; that’s what secularism is all about, to demonstrate that God is not needed. It becomes an issue when the church allows these lies to infiltrate.
I hear things such as, “Well Angel, the truth does not come from God only, we can find the truth everywhere, even in the secular science.” My answer to that is that they are correct, truth can be found everywhere; nevertheless, all truth comes ONLY from God, no matter who the source is. The devil hijacks some of these truths to validate his lies. The Bible tells us that God is love.In First Corinthians 13:6 the Bible points out that love delights in truth. All truth originates from God. On the other hand, the devil is described as the father of all lies.All lies comes from the devil.
I conclude this article with the claims that Jesus made about himself. Those claims are truth; let Christ himself plead his case when He said, “…I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” 1 Corinthians 14:6 (NASB)
1 John 4:7-21
1 Corinthians 8:44