I received a comment on one of my previous posts from someone who had some very heartfelt questions. I have pondered on it for days and realized that his thoughts are the same as so many others, they are all just voiced in different ways. I want to share a portion of this comment with you....
"If I spent so many years of my life at the same church you did, working and believing in what I was doing, and it produced no lasting fruit, will I repeat the same thing all over again? If there is so much sin in the church (and I personally know much from Baptist to Pentecostal to Charismatic churches), where is my family supposed to go to find refuge in this world? Where are the people with the highest moral character this world can find? People no longer measure their words to be sober and honest. The church seems to have no impact on society or worse, it does impact it by contributing to its erosion." - Amos M.
I don't know the answers to all of these questions, but I can relate to the same feelings Amos is having. What stands out in my mind is that this person seems to be asking, "Who can you trust?" Shouldn't the church be the one place people can put their trust? Many people seem to be asking these questions.
People of all ages have been left in the wake, hurting, injured, bruised, and confused. The ones driving the boat don't even look back. They go on only thinking about themselves. Some of the ones suffering the most are young people who have been left devastated by people they trusted to love and protect them. I have watched as they have tried to pick up the pieces, but no one has reached out to them, hugged them, cried with them, or even apologized to them. I have wanted to run to them and beg them not to blame God the way they blame the ones who have hurt them. Some have given up on church and God all together. This shouldn't be! I want to call out to them at the top of my voice, "PLEASE DON'T GIVE UP ON GOD!"
I am a very emotional person. The one thing that will bring tears to my eyes quicker than anything is to see a group of teenagers worshipping God. I went to a service the other night where thousands of young people were all lifting their hands to God. It was amazing to see. Teenagers want to get involved and jump in with both feet. They are enthusiastic and zealous and will give their all for something they believe in. I think that's why they seem to fall the hardest when the trust they had in someone is broken. They have given 100%, but they walk away feeling that no one valued or cared about them.
Leaders in the church have a responsibility to be an example to the young people (and all people) entrusted to them. In many ways theses leaders represent stability, especially for teenagers who may be growing up without a dad or a mom. When that trust is broken it can make a young person feel that their whole world has fallen apart. They are told by the church and even some of their friends, "just get over it," but they are offered no help or guidance.
John Setser says it so well in his book, 'Broken Hearts, Shattered Trust,' "Tragic are the spiritual repercussions of a trust injury. Afflicted individuals find it difficult to believe in God. They feel like spiritual exiles not knowing where to turn. Faith and hope for the future disappear into thin air. They are left feeling frustrated, angry, and confused. The joy of their salvation seems lost forever." I know this seems extreme to those who have not experienced anything like this before, but there are people out there dealing with this today.
Getting past a trust injury is not an event, it's a process. God understands where we are. He allows us to take the little trust we have left and build it back at our pace. We can't lump God in with the mistreatment caused within the church. As sad as it is, there are abusive churches that will cause hurt and they don't even know or care how many people are suffering. The people who are left supporting these types of churches don't realize that they may one day be right where we are. I sincerely hope that doesn't happen, but if history truly does repeat itself, they probably will be.
I had another comment left on a previous post that expresses what is also in my heart. Set Free 1107 said, "I have great compassion for those who have been hurt. In our church's case some have been hurt more than others and my heart truly goes out to them. To those who are having a hard time going to church again I would encourage them that its OK to take a break but NEVER give up on God. Remember that it was only a MAN that failed you. God will never leave you or forsake you."
To Amos M., I don't believe you will repeat the same mistake again because you have seen the truth. I believe you will go on to bear much, lasting fruit because it is so apparent that you want what is right. I pray that God will lead you to a place where you can trust again and a place where your family can truly be happy.
I want to emphasize again, if you have questions, don't push them aside. Looking back, the questions I pushed aside were the ones warning me that I shouldn't be trusting. You don't have to have a 'word from God' if your heart already knows the truth. God has given us His mind on things and it is written on the pages of the Bible. The biggest thing on God's mind is love.
Romans 12:9 says, "Don't just pretend that you love others: really love them. Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of good. Love each other with brotherly affection and take delight in honoring each other."
Ephesians 4:32 says, "Deal gently with one another and maintain a good attitude. Show goodwill toward each other as God showed toward you in Christ."
John 13:35 says, "The mark by which all men will know you for my disciples will be the love you bear one another."
Colossians 3:14 says, "Most of all, let love guide your life, for then the whole church will stay together in perfect harmony."
Is this a picture of your church? These verses were written to the churches in the New Testament many years ago, but churches everywhere should practice these simple acts. I hope that churches will once again become places of refuge where God's people can trust. Loving God and loving people should be the focus of every church. That is what really matters!