Was it really the church that hurt you?

Was it really the church that hurt you?

There are a lot of hurting Christians out there because people in the church can be very nasty to one another.  A lot of the fuel in the emerging church is the intense dissatisfaction with the church as it is because the church hurt them.  I can’t deny that some of my thoughts and perceptions of the church are shaped by negative experiences. 

In many ways I’ve moved beyond the hurt.  One of the things I needed to do was stop blaming the church and face the fact that it was individuals within the church that hurt me.  Blaming the church as a whole is easy to do and trendy.  It also let me off the hook.  I can be bitter and there is no one I need to forgive and I can ignore the specific hurts. 

It wasn’t the church that hurt me.  It was the friend who thought I was deceived because I was thinking about leaving his church.  It was the pastor who thought God spoke to him and was reckless with his “prophetic words”.  It was the institutional president who tried to intimidate me when I called him on his lies.  It was the people who gossiped about me and ruined my reputation.  It was the people that mocked me behind my back.

The new testament writers didn’t ever say this journey was going to be easy.  Jesus warned us of the cost of following him.  We have a choice.  We can stay bitter, or we can be courageous and forgive one step at a time.  It took me many years and I did avoid “church” for a long time but I did get better. 

  1. #1 by phil on September 29, 2004 - 12:30 am

    Nice post LT. How true! We find it so much easier to blame a faceless entity that doesn’t speak back, or ask for forgiveness.

  2. #2 by Janine on September 29, 2004 - 6:22 am

    I posted a similar thought to your’s Leighton on Monday, Sept 27th.

    “Goodness knows I have been disappointed by “Christians” and I have probably been a disappointing “Christian” myself. However we know that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Noone is perfect. We shouldn’t expect only ‘perfect Christians’ to grace the doors of churches because they don’t exist. Nor should we expect the church as a whole to be flawless. We can’t expect imperfect pieces to fit together to make something that is flawless.”

    Bravo to you for being able to move beyond bitter and into forgiveness.

  3. #3 by Jayson on September 29, 2004 - 8:30 am

    I think you are right on, LT. I just think we need to underline the part where you say, “it took me MANY YEARS and I did avoid church for a long time but I DID GET BETTER”

    For many peddle off a rhetoric of immediate forgiveness and moving on, and this actaully impedes the forgiveness process. Forgiveness may not actually come in fullness over a lifetime depending on the offence, but it is a process that we should all find oursleves in at least some degree. The tough part comes when one never even wants to explore the process, then there are issues.


  4. #4 by Marc Vandersluys on September 29, 2004 - 10:33 am

    I’m inclined to agree with you, LT. I was going to say something like, “Yes, but perhaps it is the Church that is teaching people to be this way.” Perhaps. But even in a “perfect” church with properly focused leadership there will likely still be those individuals that have a knack for hurting people…

    Is forgiveness really a life-long process?

  5. #5 by Paul Johnston on September 29, 2004 - 3:14 pm

    Praise God. You are on the road to enlightenment Leighton, forgiveness guides you. Please keep sharing with us what you see. Accept the times of “desert” humbly. Hold fast to prayer and community, the evil one will look to undermine you as rigorously as he did when the circumstances you related in this post, first occurred.

    It seems to be an all too sad refrain, young minds and hearts wounded by the inherent sinfullness of humanity. How many of God’s children suffered the curse of faithlessness as a result of pastoral hypocracies. And yet, by God’s grace, suffering becomes redemptive. Those who perservere, who rekindle their relationships with God, who learn to forgive their own excesses as well as the failings of others, are blessed with glorious graces. The gifts of compassion and understanding are the bounty and the formerly rejected and rejecting souls become one of the small army of mediators serving present and future generations.

    May the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always.

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