The Reality of Church Hurt

So, we’re back here again discussing #churchhurt. But I guess we never did really leave this conversation. It was just buried under all the other trendy topics that have been flooding our phones via our ever so loved social media apps.

Speaking of social media apps, I'm reminded of this post that was circulating around Facebook. The post posed a question to “church dropouts” asking why they stopped going to church. For some reason, posts like these don't usually draw me in, but this one got my attention (for reasons I won’t get into for the sake of maintaining the intended premise of this blog post). But because I was attentive to this post, I began to ponder some things. Things that, in today's culture, we dare not inquire about lest we become “judgy” or insensitive, or a “super saint.” Nonetheless, I am not one to shy away from a hard conversation neither am I afraid of asking questions. I actually LOVE them (just ask anyone who knows me)! So, let's talk about this for a brief moment. 

While I do understand that some things are difficult to speak on if you haven't experienced them, I want to make sure that people always understand the perspective that I am writing from. I try to approach every subject from my belief in a supreme God who has the power to do all things. And when we deal with topics such as these, we have to understand that humanity does not define God's deity. But God, as the supreme deity, gives clarity to humanity. Having said all that, I’m not a church dropout, and I haven't experienced #churchhurt the way others have. Now, don't get me wrong, I have experienced some nasty, mean, sinful, hateful, and just downright disgusting so-called "Christians" (should you even be able to say that about a Christian?). But that never led to a place of detachment in my life as it dealt with the local church or the faith. And if I'm honest, I've been at least two of those adjectives previously mentioned at some point in time myself. Maybe not with ill intent yet not with innocence but thankfully, with repentance. 

Something else I'm thankful for is that I never did leave the church, because Lord knows where I’d be if I had! Even though there were times when I could've easily walked away from the local church, a certain knowledge and acknowledgement of God and His distinguishing character that is nothing like that of any human being on this earth caused me to still be able to see His goodness amid our human wretchedness. But when I saw this on someone's Facebook page, I immediately thought about how we give ourselves access to other options when it comes to things in the world. Whenever we experience bad customer service at the grocery store, we don’t stop going to the store. We don't pick up gardening and stop buying groceries. We just find another store to frequent. I don’t know anyone who has quit working because one job treated them poorly. They may or may not quit that job, and if they do quit, they commence with finding another one. But this is not something that we do as it involves the church. The same grace we ask the church to give, we don’t reciprocate. The same understanding we expect of the individuals that make up the church, we don't render. We quickly default to, “I want to stop going to church because that church did this or that person did that.” Or we just throw a blanket accusation out there, pointing the finger at God—the God who granted each of us life—and decide He's ultimately to blame. But what we don’t consider is that this world is made up of flawed people and that upon these flawed people, we cannot base our spiritual lives. Flawed people whom all of us just so happen to be named amongst. Which means that those who point fingers at the church, more than likely have three fingers pointed back at them as well…

When dealing with the Christian faith and the church, we have to look to the Person who is the Life of the universal church and that’s Christ. But the disconnect and the sudden mass shift in the hearts and minds of people towards the church is something that is very disturbing and somewhat saddening. And here I go again with this word. It's borderline idolatry. What has happened is that people have made other people, or other image bearers, the ultimate example for how the church should function. So, Jesus isn’t the standard, the people who profess Him are. We don’t look past these “church” people like we do the rude cashier at the grocery store to see that there is a greater need in our lives on the other side of the disappointment we are currently facing. We look at people to set the tone for how we view God instead of viewing people through the eyes of God. Because the thing is, God is nothing like us. But we are nothing without Him, and we should all be working to be like Him.

Yes, those who profess to be Christians should do better in representing Christ because that's the whole premise behind calling yourself a Christian. But the truth is, some people won’t. It's comparable to marriage. Even though all of those who wed take vows before God to commit themselves to each other, they all don't honor this commitment. But then, there are some who do. And just like those who carry out a commitment to love, honor, and obey in marriage, the true Christian (bride) does the same for their bridegroom (Christ).

To label the entire church as irresponsible and unapproachable is akin to the stereotypical statements, “all black men are thugs” or “all white people are racists.” Extreme? I know. But it's the truth. As sad as it is to admit, quite a few people, instead of seeking to find truth [Christ], opt to blame the entire church for what a few people do. Something we refuse to do with anything that physically benefits us in this world. The response to #churchhurt that brings about the embracing of deconstruction and pulling away from the faith, I do believe, can be attributed to a lot of things. But one of the main reasons we'll withdraw from the church before we will the grocery store has its roots in the dismissal of Matthew 16:24—denying ourselves. It’s easy to walk away from the faith and the church because our human flesh and our human minds don’t find surrendering our will to someone other than ourselves as easy as walking away. We want control. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of people who are not representing the faith very well and #churchhurt is real, but there are a lot of people who desire to help others heal. A lot of people who desire to see those hurt by the church helped by those who belong to Christ. There are Christians who desire to show those victims of #churchhurt that they can surrender and they can live on the other side of that surrender in the fullness of joy that comes with knowing Christ, not those who only claim Him. 

In acknowledging that there are those who suffer and have suffered at the hands of nominal believers, when opening ourselves up to those who have experienced #churchhurt, we have to employ discernment. We must be able to discern between those who are true victims and those who are just tired of the Holy Spirit convicting them and want to blame everyone else for the course of their life. But not only do true believers bear the responsibility to discern this and be willing to help, there is a corresponding responsibility of those who are alleging this hurt to seek the truth. Just like you search Google and incessantly read reviews on new grocery stores, you have to seek for and pray to be shown places of truth filled with people of truth. 

I know a young woman who was recently struggling with her faith and the authenticity of the church simply because of the church context she grew up in. But what she didn't do was stop going to church. She continued to pursue truth and she was able to find a church home that she enjoys and she’s able to grow in. This lets me know, without a doubt in my mind, that anyone can be redeemed and healed from #churchhurt because #churchhurt is really #peoplehurt camouflaged by a building and a steeple. And it also lets me know that I can find solace in the words of the Bible to know that when it says “seek and ye shall find,” it ain’t told not one lie!

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