Church, at times, can seem like a taste of Heaven. Yet in the same place, we sometimes set ourselves up for pain and disappointment. It’s because we forget the nature of humankind.
In the book of Galatians, Apostle Paul tells us that human beings (in their lesser selves) are prone to dark tendencies (such as factions, discord, jealousy, selfish ambition, and hate). In other words, the Church was not intended to be a perfect place. How could it be, when it’s comprised of imperfect people? But, in our minds, we remake people into what we need them to be. And when people in the church reveal their imperfections, we are first shocked, then disappointed, spiritually hurt, and sometimes destroyed.
I have listened to the tales of what people have suffered at their churches. I grieve for them. Yet, I also must say this: To be surprised that human nature would rear its ugly head – in the very place where the devil strikes the hardest, and feels most threatened – isn’t practical. John 10:10 teaches, “The thief’s purpose is to steal, and kill, and destroy” (New Living Translation). That’s exactly what the devil attempts to do in churches. He comes to steal unity, kill relationships, and destroy your faith. But, please don’t let him. The people we hug on Sunday bear both the “image of God” and the residue of sin. Like you, they need love. They need forgiveness. They need grace. Therefore, don’t pull away from your church because of unrealistic expectations. God is perfect, but every Christian needs grace.
We must always remember that people are not our example. Jesus is. We are called to live the way He lived, and love the way He loves. Jesus was not disillusioned about people. He saw them for who they were. Still, He loved them (and even enjoyed them).
You may be playing your own bitter story of church hurt – over and over again – in your mind. But today, right now, you can turn your story around. No matter what you’ve experienced at church, don’t harden your heart or walk away. Those who hurt you are struggling to overcome their sinful nature. Although it’s hard to believe, your church hurt can make you stronger and wiser. So find peace by placing your trust in God alone, and choosing to love people ... despite who they are.