I think if I took a survey around local churches the percentage would be high on who has experienced church hurt. Battle wounds are most likely all around us and the question is if they have been healed or are still open sores. Church hurt can affect the individual, but also the body of Christ. Hurt stings deep and sometimes the stinging lingers longer than the initial bite. Church hurt is hard, but there is redemption at the end if we move our eyes onto Jesus, the head of the Church.
Being a pastor’s wife, I have seen firsthand church hurt and the effects of it. I have seen my husband work through tough decisions, be confronted in an unloving manner, experience the pain of gossip, and have seen people leave our church body after years of loving them. These things are hard, church ministry is messy, yet God is still good. At least this is what I learned from looking upon my husband’s life. If I am honest, at the moment of church hurt, I was not positive, I wanted justice. I wanted my husband to be seen as the man of God he is, I wanted apologies to be done within our body, and I wanted unity to be restored. My husband in these moments graciously reminded me of the gospel and pointed me to the truth that restoration will come one day. While at the time I didn’t quite understand how he easily reached to that position, I get it now.
Hurt stings deep and sometimes the stinging lingers longer than the initial bite. Church hurt is hard, but there is redemption at the end if we move our eyes onto Jesus, the head of the Church.
Local bodies are Full of Sinners
Often times Christians are called hypocrites. We appear as the ‘white washed tombs.’ We present perfection while really, we are sinners in need of our Savior. I believe it is important to always remember that the church is full of sinners striving to glorify Christ. We all, within the church, including our leadership, are imperfect beings. We sin daily and need Christ daily. We don’t need to portray ourselves as perfect or higher above others, instead we must come as we are; people who need Jesus every hour of the day.
Because the local church is full of sinners, we need to remember this when interacting with each other. We all were dead in our sins and God called us, loved us, and chose us. We have received God’s grace and mercy when we didn’t deserve it. We must be willing to pour out grace on others within our local body, we must strive for holiness together and fight sin together.
We Need to Forgive Quickly
Forgiveness is hard. Forgiveness is even harder when the ones who hurt you never offer up the “I’m sorry” you feel that is deserved. However, we are always called to forgive. “Bearing with one another, and if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.” (Colossians 3:13). We must forgive. According to the book of Colossians, forgiveness is not an option; it is a command. We must forgive and the reason we are given is because God has forgiven us. As his enemies, we were forgiven and redeemed as children of God. If we can be forgiven for our sins, we can forgive others.
Forgiving someone who has wronged you is extremely difficult. It requires us to cling to Christ and rest in the comfort that God is sovereign and will use this situation for His glory and our good. It requires us to be humble and to seek unity even when our emotions are not there. Forgiveness is a picture of the gospel for ourselves and others, because at certain moments we can only forgive others because of Jesus.
If we can be forgiven for our sins, we can forgive others
Remember the Gospel Always
This might seem like a no brainer. However, it is something that should be said. We must always remember the gospel. When the gospel is the central focus on our life, then the hurt and wrong doings we experience can fall within the gospel. We can remember that we live in a sinful world with sinners, we can recognize the hope in Jesus in the midst of hardship, and we can look forward knowing that restoration will come one day.
My husband did not feel the need to seek justice or make his name clear in that moment; he didn’t have to. His reason was simple: Restoration will come one day. He was looking to the future hope we have in Christ. I have no doubt he was hurting with pain after being hurt by people he had faithfully poured into for years, yet he chose to look to Jesus. He chose to cling to the truths that can only be found in the gospel. Years later it has finally clicked for me. Forgiveness provides freedom in Christ, and the gospel changes everything. Our heart can be healed from church hurt by remembering the gospel. By rejoicing in all circumstances of who God is and being thankful that I was once a sinner and now I am saved.
These things are hard, church ministry is messy, yet God is still good.
Friends if you have battle wounds from church hurt, whether big or small, know you are not alone. Remember the gospel, rejoice in your salvation, be quick to forgive, and seek unity as you can for the glory of Christ.
Soli Deo Gloria,
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