Insults hurt from those outside the church but inside the church, the wounding can hurt so much more deeply. The reason is because the church is meant to be a safe place.
Over the years, I have experienced my deepest wounds from my church family. I suppose it’s because I trust the people in my church and have assumed that if we are all following God’s Word, wounding should not happen. But it does. Why? Because the church is filled with sinners and the reality is we fail each other.
Sadly, I have been naive at times and too trusting. I have assumed good in people who were not as good as I thought. I have lived life with arms wide open and as a result I’ve allowed myself to get stabbed in the back – and front.
A wise person once encouraged me by using the analogy of a Fitness Center. No one joins a Health Club and expects to walk in the first day and find perfectly fit people. If we see someone terribly out of shape and not using the equipment that isn’t the gym’s fault. The gym is filled with all types. They are there for different reasons and at different levels of fitness. Some want to be healthy or lose weight. Others need a place to belong or attention, to be seen as beautiful or to find a date. Some are young, some are old. Some are leaders, some are followers. Some seem to know everyone in the gym while others are newbies and clearly look uncomfortable in their skin.
In the same way, when we enter our church doors, we should expect to find people of all kinds. They are there for different reasons. Some are there to hear God’s word, grow spiritually and serve. Others think of it more as a club for get togethers or to find a guy. Some are studying deep theology while others prefer to avoid anything deep. Some are looking for relief and a safe place to fall while others are looking for attention. Some are young, some are old. Some are leaders, some are followers. Some have been there forever and know everyone and others are new and uncomfortable.
We all have different personality types, family backgrounds, church backgrounds, sensitivities from our past, talents, giftedness, dreams, goals, fears and trials.
So as we come together – if we do not have humility and love —we clash like cymbals.
“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” ~1 Corinthians 13:1
And when we clash it is not pretty.
Here’s How to Deal With Wounding In the Church
This is what the Lord has taught me thus far…
1.) It’s okay to cry but after we dry our tears, we must release the hurt to the Lord.
2.) Think more about what Christ has done FOR us and less about what others have done TO us.
3.) Do not seek revenge. Christ paid on the cross for all of our sins and all of the sins done to us. Leave the sin of others, at the cross for God to deal with.
4.) Moving on is an ongoing process. When we see this person’s face, we may struggle again to forgive – we may have to continue to fight to forgive over and over and over.
“Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.” Matthew 18:21,22
Moving on is not:
1.) Necessarily a response to an apology. They may never be sorry.
2.) Denying or minimizing what happened. It hurt and it was very real and Christ died a horrible death to cover it.
3.) Trust or reconciliation. It takes two to reconcile. When no acknowledgement of the pain they have caused you comes, this leaves an open wound that only Christ can fill.
What if we don’t move on?
1.) Bitterness will grow in our hearts.
“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.” Ephesians 4;1
All means ALL in this verse.
2.) Our true character is revealed.
“with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Ephesians 4:2,3
Unity is not just for those who think and act and look just like us -that is self-idolatry. We are to work to MAINTAIN the unity of all of those in the church.
So how do we handle criticism when it comes?
1.) Examine your own life, your motives, your intentions, your heart and compare it with the accusation. Is there any chance you have a blind spot that this person is pointing out to you?
2.) Consider, is the problem a personality difference, theological difference, philosophical difference or a result of sin?
We see in Acts 15 theological differences worked out. We also see philosophical differences in the friendship of Paul and Barnabas. These Godly men sharply disagreed and as a result separated.
36 After some time Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit each city where we previously preached the word of the Lord, to see how the new believers are doing.” 37 Barnabas agreed and wanted to take along John Mark. 38 But Paul disagreed strongly, since John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in their work. 39 Their disagreement was so sharp that they separated. Barnabas took John Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus. – Acts 15:36-39
3.) Grow thick skin. As Ephesians 4:2,3 says – bear with each other in love. Sometimes we simply have to put up with and tolerate a person that rubs us the wrong way, for the sake of unity.
The lesson I have learned from my wounds.
My wounds have changed me.
One temptation is to become jaded. To wonder if putting myself out there is worth the hurt. It makes me want to crawl in my bed, cover my head with my covers and never come out again. It makes me want to push everyone away and never trust anyone with my heart again. This is what the enemy wants – a severely wounded, jaded Christian – unable to serve or love again.
But God…God spoke into my darkness and reminded me…
He is sovereign and in control. Though I was surprised by this wound – God was not. God allowed this situation in my life for a reason. God is taking me deeper in with Him – to trust Him more. To love Him more. To change me – not into a jaded person but into a compassionate person who identifies with the wounds of others.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” ~ 2 Corinthians 1:3,4
Friends, don’t waste your wounds. Use them to comfort others. So many are hurting. I pray you allow God to heal your wound and then turn it around into a ministry for God’s glory. That’s how we triumph over the enemy!
Walk with the King,
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