And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.~Hebrews 10:25 NLT
“Nah, I don’t go to church anymore. All those church people messed it up for me.”
“I really miss going to church, but I never could find a place where I fit in. I don’t want to go through that again.”
“Once ‘so and so’ started coming to church, it just messed it up for me. There’s no way I can worship with ‘so and so’ in the room.”
“There are too many hypocrites at church.”
“My whole family used to be involved in church. But then stuff happened in our family, and I didn’t feel as if they would accept me anymore.”
This list of reasons could go on and on. The reality is that every one of the reasons above has one common thread—people. People make church hard.
We all enter a church setting with diverse backgrounds. Some have never been to church while others were raised in the church. Bad experiences or theological run-ins haunt some. Others see themselves as unworthy of God’s love and, therefore, unworthy of being able to step foot inside a church. Some people bring their own agendas and crave positions of power, while others want to serve in the background and disappear into the crowd.
This mix of mindsets brings a variety of expectations that include music, teaching, preaching, programs, community service, doctrine, dress, and classes. And the list goes on.
Then there’s the baggage part. We all have hurts, and those hurts are often the lenses through which we see the world. Abuse, divorce, death, addiction, anxiety, depression, mental disorders, diseases, unemployment, fears, insecurities, and trust to name a few.
We take all these reasons, differences, and baggage and bring them together in a place called the church.
In Matthew 11:28 NLT, Jesus says, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”
We should bring all our stuff with us as we walk into the church doors, but we often leave our junk at the feet of others instead of at the cross. Things of the church cannot meet our needs or save our souls. The church must be more than entertainment by preaching, music, friendships, and classes. But when it comes to connecting with Christ, we freeze.
Everything changes when we get real with Jesus. God’s grace covers all our sins, and God chooses to forget them. Our minds are boggled by the fact that Jesus sacrificed Himself for us, took on the sins of this world, and goes to great lengths to make sure we live in His grace.
Once we get past all the other noise people bring to church, we see redemption, grace, hope, mercy, forgiveness, and freedom.
It breaks my heart that we can cause other people to miss the real reason behind coming to church. Church hurt is a real thing, but Jesus is the main thing. If church life has tired you, find someone who is living out their faith and talk with them. Then ask God for guidance and try again. All people and all churches are not the same–and none are perfect. Don’t let church hurt keep you from seeking Christ.
If you have stopped attending church because of other people, what would Jesus advise?
Father God, please open my eyes to areas of hurt in my heart. Help me take these hurts to You and not blame people and use them as an excuse to stay stuck and isolated. Give me the courage to take a chance on people, but most importantly, on Jesus. Amen
Copyright 2022: Church Hurts: Christy Bass Adams: All Rights Reserved