Some sermons speak to me as much or even more than they speak to the congregation. Last Sunday was one of those sermons. God was speaking to me through the prep time, through the delivery and also in the days following Sunday. For me, there has been one thing that has been burning in my mind. I have never met anyone who has been hurt by “the Church.”
Let me explain. I have been in Churches that were very toxic situations, but in every case the situation was caused by one or two individuals or families. Often there was one big bully who was running the Church and their leadership was not motivated by the word of God or by his Spirit. Usually, these people were driven by one of the three great sins of mankind – money, sex or power. The end result was that someone in the Church was hurt, not by the whole group of Christians, but rather by the ungodly actions of one person or a very small group. I know this is true in my case.
This is an important distinction for us to make. I believe our tendency is to think of our hurt as a group action because it allows me to place blame on no one specific. A friend of mine in ministry used to say “we focus on a group because it eliminates personal confrontation.” You see, my sermon Sunday was about forgiving a person that hurt you even if they call themselves a Christian and should have known better. But if I view my hurt as the actions of the entire group then I no longer have to worry about forgiveness. I can let myself off of the hook for my own spiritual responsibilities of growth through forgiveness.
I wonder, “Is it possible that God might be growing my faith and trust in him even through difficult and ungodly people?”
As I said in the sermon one of our primary ways of handling hurt is by avoidance. We can act as if it didn’t happen and avoid dealing with it. We can avoid the person who did that terrible thing. We can avoid the whole group of people who call themselves Christians. Sometimes saying, “I was hurt by the Church,” is an easy way of not dealing with the hurts in your life made by a specific individual. We use a group label to avoid dealing with the situation. The final result is spiritual death and not growth.
I refuse to allow a bad situation to stop my spiritual growth. I refuse to allow one ungodly person to ruin my faith. I am not going to allow them to have that much power over me.