Saturday, November 19, 2016

When Churches Bite

Have you ever been hurt or disappointed by your church? Has something ever happened in church that made you ask, "What just happened here?" Or maybe you read something in the Bible and then saw your church doing something different. What do we do? How do we react?

First, before I begin making people mad, let's set a few pitons in the mountain we're about to climb. Pitons are the things mountain climbers use to keep them from falling too far. In the church we call them truths. They are things we can depend on and trust 100%.

Piton #1 - Churches are filled with sinners. Jesus told us in Matthew 10 that "no one is good except God alone." That means your pastor is a sinner, the little kid running down the aisle is a sinner and the old lady pushing her walker up front to take communion is a sinner. We are ALL sinners. We all screw up. If you are looking for a perfect church, good luck. There isn't one.

"All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." - Romans 3:3

Piton #2 - There is only one Church. According to the Center for the Study of Global Christianity, there are approximately 41,000 Christian denominations in the world today. Seriously? Why so many? Who's right and who's wrong? People have different interpretations about what the Bible says. Usually, the Bible is pretty clear but sometimes it can be a little fuzzy. Still, despite all of the differences we might have in our beliefs, there is really only ONE church. And check this,  it doesn't have a building.

"13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body" - 1 Corinthians 12:13

Alright, let's start climbing.

Do you love Jesus? Most, if not all Christians, will answer yes. They will answer that question quite boldly too. Right up to the point when Jesus says this:

"23 Jesus replied, Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them." - John 14:23

Are you getting scared yet? You should be. Because we're about to get hurt.

I saw a discussion on Facebook the other day about someone claiming that their church had hurt them. That may or may not be true. I have no way of knowing. This person claimed that they had been removed from a position in the church because of the way they dressed. If that is true, then shame on the church. This same person said they were removed from this position because they were in a same-sex relationship. If THAT is true, then shame on that person for living a lie.

“Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching."

Open your Bibles to Romans 1.

"24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie" - Romans 1:24-25

It doesn't matter what our sin is, when we exchange the truth about God for a lie, and continue to live in that lie, that sin, then we are only hurting ourselves. If we are truly Christians, even though we sin, there is a shame that follows us as long as we are in that sin. And then it comes. The difference between Christians and non Christians - repentance. A turning away from sin to follow God. To . . . "obey my teaching."

Let's face it. Sometimes churches hurt us. We're all sinners, remember? But more often it is we ourselves who do the hurting. And the ones we usually end up hurting are ourselves.

Before we start accusing the church of hurting us perhaps we should examine ourselves to see if we aren't the ones doing the hurting.

Being a Christian means giving up our old way of life. Not wallowing in sin. Repentance is the key.

"17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! " - 2 Corinthians 5:17

We will be tempted. We will be tried. But if we are TRULY Christians, if we truly have God's Holy Spirit inside us, we will never go back to who we once were. We will never give in. We will never give up the fight. Because we are His church. We are His bride. And we have been chosen by The King.

When your church hurts you, forgive. When things don't go as you think they should, ask yourself, does it really matter? We need to get beyond earthly entanglements and start living for Christ, sacrificially. We need to start loving , as Christ loved us, unconditionally. If we all do that there won't be any trouble at all.

How To Heal When The Church Hurts You
Ephesians 4