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