Archive | July, 2015

I’m sorry

15 Jul

There are a few things in life that I wish didn’t happen….sickness, poverty, war, crime, sexual exploitation, the list could go on. There are things I can (& do) do about some of those things… for instance I’m a nurse to try and help those who are sick, I sponsor a child to try and give one child a better future…because as much as I want to I can’t save the world but I can start with one.  I support other causes where I can. But there are some things that trouble me and I wish didn’t happen that I can’t do much about. One of those things kept me awake last night.

I wish that people weren’t hurt by churches. I’ve got a few friends in this category who’ve been on my mind lately. But it’s not only happened to them, it’s happened to me. So bear with me as I explore this a little further. Because we all react differently when we’re hurt. Some of us get angry, some of us run, some of us heal and there are so many other responses.

I believe that part of the problem is that we have such high expectations of “church”.  This is understandable to a certain degree – afterall Christians are meant to be perfect…right..? But I think that’s where part of the problem lies because Christians are still human and therefore still very much imperfect. We do things we wish we didn’t. We say things we wish we didn’t. We think things we wish we didn’t. Yet people expect so much more of us if they know we’re a Christian. Somehow, immediately our behavior is scrutinised and compared to a standard…and so often we come up short.  See I believe the church is a home for broken people.

I had a look at the biblical definition of a church and found that according to the Bible, the church is the body of Christ—all those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 12:13). Local churches are gatherings of the universal church. The local church is where the members of the universal church can fully apply the “body” principles of 1 Corinthians chapter 12: encouraging, teaching, and building one another up in the knowledge and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now that sounds ideal. Teaching, encouraging and building each other up. If only it always happened that way! But if a church is made up of people who are human,  who sin, who mess things up, then i think it’s understandable that “churches” can sometimes hurt people.  This isn’t to say that it’s excusable – because ultimately our goal is to be Christ-like, is to build others up, we shouldn’t be hurting others. That’s where forgiveness comes in. I’m not condoning bad behaviour, but if he who has not sinned should throw the first stone then I can’t pick up a pebble!

See, there are so many things we could criticise “churches” for doing or not doing. So many things we might think are bigger problems that they’re ignoring,  or taking what we believe to be the “wrong” stance on a particular issue. I want to remember that the church is made up of a body of people. All imperfect people trying to do the best they can, with what they can. Trying their best to love God and love others and live according to His will.

So as I think about the ways in which I’ve been hurt by churches in the past I’ve got a couple of options for my response.  My particular choice is to forgive. I also want to remember that issue though (not forget) – because maybe my role in the church is to be an ambassador for that very thing. Maybe the “church” is letting the world down in one respect purely because that was actually meant to be my job in the church – and if I don’t do it,  maybe none else will. But, if all I can do is stand back and criticise (I’m talking to myself here) – without being prepared to do it myself – then maybe i need to take the plank out of my eye before I try and take the stick out of the “church’s”

So if you’ve been hurt by the church, I want to say sorry (& congratulations  for hanging with me this far). My sorry unfortunately isn’t like one coming from Kevin Rudd but it is the best I can offer. I’m sorry that you’ve been hurt by someone or something in the church. I’m sorry that it happened because it really, truly shouldn’t have. I’d love it though if you’d consider what I’ve said and think about your role in the church because the church needs you to make a difference in this world. The church is made up of broken but forgiven people – and maybe if you can find it in your heart to start with forgiveness, together as we join to make the church,  we can make a difference. I can play my part, and you can play yours…and together we can try and prevent anyone else facing the same problem we’ve faced. Together we can be the church that Christ wants us to be. Where we build each other up, and demonstrate Christ’s love to the world.