If you've attended church for any length of time you know what I'm talking about. Church can hurt, and hurt deeply. I'm not totally sure why church hurts have a particular intensity, but they do. And sadly, they seem unavoidable. We gather hundreds of people together from differing backgrounds, with their own opinions and perspectives, needs, desires, and dare I say - in some cases - agendas. We mix them all together based on one thing - our belief in Jesus Christ as our personal Savior. And we hope and pray that this crazy experiment called the church will work. That we will indeed show the world that we are HIS disciples by our love for one another.
So why do the inevitable disagreements and disappointments hurt so much? Why would we dare believe that you could gather a group of strangers together and everyone get along?
I think it's because we think church should be different. After all, it IS a community of Believers, not just random people. These are not - supposedly - crazy family members we're stuck with based on genetics alone, but people who are filled with the Spirit of God, living out the fruit of that very Spirit. Isn't church a place where the idea of family is fully redeemed? Where the gathered family is HOLY and sacred, and becoming like Christ? Where our goal is one and the same - to grow in Christ and share the Good News of his love with the world? Arms linked, facing a common enemy - Satan and the forces of hell.
A really wise, older pastor once told me that church hurts are deeper because we never expect to encounter our enemy and hell within the walls of the church. We never expect those of forces of sin to invade the holy sacredness of a community of Believers. Yet they do, each and every day. And it is horribly disappointing.
We have such high hopes. We may enter into relationships wholeheartedly, putting aside our fears. We may share the deepest part of ourselves - our dreams, our fears, our struggles, our hopes. We make ourselves vulnerable to a group of people that we believe is always for us, always with us......because we're the Body of Christ, right?
And then we encounter the enemy - sin. It is still among us, and perhaps even more disappointing and discouraging, still within us. And our sin hurts one another.
This is why church hurts so much.
Why do you think church hurts are so much harder to deal with? Why have they been for you? No church or pastor bashing please!