I made a note in Part 15: Denial that I would address this topic. In fact, this topic has been on my heart for at least 2 years. So let me begin.
Did the church or something that was said that caused you to leave the church hurt you or scarred you? If the answer is yes, then I dedicate this post to you. I want to divide this post into three categories:
- Quotes that are not Scriptural that can cause doubt
- No sympathy from the church when you’re going through
- My own personal experience of church hurt
Let me start with the easy part: quotes or things that are said from church/religious people that are so no scriptural. This will offend those inside the church, and that’s fine.
Quote #1: Tragedies are acts of God. You know, when I was young, I remember reading the instructions to the first microwave my family bought. Under the warranty, it said that the warranty was not covered by “acts of God.” I always wondered about that. And throughout 2017, you’ve heard about hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and many people (in and out of the church) call them “acts of God.” In fact, some people will call the deaths of their loved ones, “acts of God.” If Jesus came to give life, how can He be the cause of tragedies? When people call tragedies acts of God (especially in the church), that causes people to blame God when their loved one passes away, blame God for every death that has happened. And some will say at the funeral, God took your loved one. That right there can cause church hurt in people. But it’s all a trap of the enemy.
Quote #2: God put this test on you, for He knows how much you can bear. Wait, how can God put cancer on you, cause a death to sweep through your family, etc.? Many will use 1 Corinthians 10:13 to back this quote up. The devil is the one who is bringing tests and trials. Which leads me to Quote #3.
Quote #3: Tests and trials come to make you stronger. No! They come to kill you! If this were really the case, we would all be strong by now. Tests and trials come by the devil to take you out. Why is it that when a test or trial comes, people panic? Or they stay right where they are, and they pass away? End result: God is the blame for all of this – therefore, out of the church they go.
Quote #4: He may not come when you want Him to. All I’m going to say to this, is Hebrews 13:5 – He will NEVER leave you nor forsake you.
Quote #5: Do not pass me by! See my Scriptural passage from Quote #4.
I’ll stop there with the first section.
No sympathy from the church when you’re going through. This is where most of the church hurt comes from. I can truly say during this walk, I’m seeing more and more people so entrenched with their own lives that they can’t take a moment to see what’s going on next door. I’m not saying neglect your own life, but if you were to walk in every church, you’ll find at least one person who is internally bleeding to death with something on them. But because so many are just coming to church to get that word for their life, that blessing for them (and forget everyone else), many are hurt because they didn’t even receive a smile, a hug, a “how are you doing today, how can I pray for you?” This particular category breaks my heart. I know I don’t say much especially when I’m inside the church walls, but I’m very mindful of this outside the church walls. Mainly because I know that I am the church – meaning, that I have to be a light to people when I’m outside the church, not just when I’m inside (to impress people). And don’t even get me started on the hypocritical issue. When people are going through, many will say they are attacked, but blame others for their lack of faith. These are half-truths on both sides. It is true that there is an attack, but where’s the love and support (and not just chastisement – or trying to puff how much Word they know or how strong their faith is over another) – and standing in the gap for them? Blaming others for their lack of faith, a real brother and sister will strengthen them and ensure they are not going at this alone (and granted, their foundation may have been shaky from the start due to being in a unscriptural church, bad childhood upbringing – that’s distorted their view of God and what faith in God looks like). I’m finding within the past week and a half, that we are so oblivious to those around us to the point we care more about things we can’t control (like the president) than we do our own lives or the brother/sister living next door. Part of the blame for this church hurt is leaders using their platform as a political platform over teaching the Word. And when they do teach it, they’re teaching it to fit their opinion, denominational teaching, or just to pacify those listening while they’re still internally bleeding to death. So, because there’s no teaching to the congregation how to love their brother and sister, there will be church hurt (and granted, those who are hurt, need to go to a better church hospital).
And let me discuss the final category, my own experience of church hurt. Six years ago today, I wrote a suicide note (When I Wanted To Die). And I’ll be honest, I was going to a church where many in the congregation could’ve cared less if I lived or died. In fact, it was all about personalities and who was in their specific clique. To have that attitude is not showing love (especially when I was crying for help). Today, that attitude in the world as a whole has increased the more. I still thank God that my salvation was based on God’s Word and not a church. When you place their salvation on a church, or a man and not God, your foundation is off. There is no question about that! Anyway, what I’m saying here is that people will let you down, but don’t equate God to the people in the church. I’m not saying that you excuse their behavior, for we are living in a time where people who say they believe need to put up or shut up! It’s just that simple.
In my blogpost Part 15: Denial, I mentioned when it comes to sexual abuse, we deny it because of the shame that it’s placed on us as well as the pain that was afflicted on us. One of the reasons we deny it is because in church, we’re told to either “get over it,” or “that was all in your head.” That’s really putting a band-aid over it and because the root is never addressed, they’re internally bleeding to death sitting inside the church. When it comes to this topic, many churches aren’t equipped to address it, and in the African-American church, the easy drug for anyone who has been abused or suffered in childhood is denial. I understand that denial was taught for decades and centuries, but times have to change, and we have to address it so we can be free. What good is denial when a trigger occurs and you explode? And for the church to frown on those who have suffered in childhood and not comfort them, build them up by letting them know that God loves them and was not the author of the abuse and answering the question roaming in their mind, “why did this happen?” – we are setting ourselves up for casualties in the church, and many will leave and forsake Christianity because of our response. The root of the pain is the devil! And for us to be so passive with those hurting and brushing them off in the church is to literally side with the devil and his purpose to destroy the one who is already hurt. The devil loves to find people (who say they love God) but not loving God’s Word to hurt others. We as the body of Christ have to do better!!
Bonus category that I need to discuss: legalism. This is the biggest area where church hurt comes from. Legalism is all about the rules and regulations to prove your salvation. Now if your foundation was based on legalism, it would not come as a surprise if you have left the church (or you are bound with working as hard as you can to please God. Know that your works don’t please God; it’s your faith and knowing that you are His. Your past is just that in His eyes, let it go.). Legalism will tell you that you have to work on being righteous, which is false. You were righteous the moment you accept Christ. Now, holiness is something you work on. Many who are legalists will be the ones flaunting their perfection over other people’s face, either to control them or to puff themselves up. In fact, legalistic people won’t pray for you, but will ask for prayers instead – mainly because they want to see you fail because it gives them a reason to act arrogant towards you. If you were hurt by the church due to you being at a church that taught legalism, or you were around people who are too legalist for their own good, I sympathize with you, and you need to be healed and made whole from this (and anything else I mentioned above).
Just know that you can be made whole from church hurt.
The Mayne Man