Where do I even begin on this topic. Recently, I have heard a number of people talk about how they were hurt by the church. This week, I want to delve into the subject line of being hurt by the church. Is it a product of putting more hope in people than God? Or is it that the church was not aligned with scripture based teaching and failed in that way? Both angles are valid, so I will go into a little bit of depth. I apologize in advance if this hurts, but I do want to challenge our thinking and, as gracefully as possible, step on some toes to wake us up as the body of Christ.
I read this quote by a young lady named Natalie Snapp. It says, “Sometimes we get hurt by specific people in the church, but if we allow those people to make us bitter towards the body, Satan has claimed a victory”. My mouth dropped when I read this. It is so true though, especially in our culture today. We get so caught up in the hype of going to church and having friends, that if we get let down or a terrible situation happens with that person, it ruins our faith. Last time I checked, our faith is based and rooted in Christ and His work on the cross, not if we have friends to talk to every Sunday. It makes me wonder about the motives of people when they leave the church claiming that they were hurt by the church, when really they were putting so much stock in people that they lost sight of the purpose of church. The purpose of church is to grow closer to God and to gather with other believers to do so. Instead, church is slowly becoming like a popularity contest, where we solely try to find where we fit in and get an emotional high for the couple hours, and then go back to real life like nothing has happened. Granted, I know this isn’t always the case, but I do see it a lot. Our focus should be on seeing Jesus clearer and clearer, and to have another opportunity to dine with the King, while other brothers and sisters are dining as well. We are a family of believers, not a clique or special club. We need to really hone in to the truth that the source for our life is Christ alone.
On the other end of the spectrum, the church has truly hurt people. Church can do this by overloading on legalism, selfish ambition, and flat out preaching the wrong gospel and judging people instead of exuding the love and grace that God has beautifully shown us. It is terrible being somewhere where someone is preaching at you like they are high and mighty, and they make you feel like dirt. That is definitely not the place to be planted. The gospel is balanced. It does show us how dead we are in our sin, yes. But it also shows that “Yet while we were sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). We need to experience church and the freedom that Jesus provides. When it comes to this part of the argument, we need to be careful of what we are being fed. We need to be in a house that provides for our spiritual needs. All in all, we need to understand that yes it is possible that we can get our motives wrong and to claim to be hurt by the church, but also that the church can be hurting us by being off kilter with what God has for His people.
Let us not focus solely on the specific people who hurt us and blame the church for that. Let us be vigilant, however, to really seek out the home that God desires us to plant into, so that we won’t be hurt by the church. No church is perfect, but the right church will help you to flourish in your spiritual gifts, so that our walk with the Lord is evident, and that we may share the Good News to the world. In my eyes, we need to get our eyes off ourselves and what people can do for us, and we need to focus on walking with Jesus, the Ultimate Lover of our soul. He alone fulfills us, not a person, or a group, or a name other than His.