Has the Church Hurt You?



It’s hard to disconnect our experience of God from our experience of the church — and that’s how it’s supposed to be.

That’s why God hates the abuse of power in the church, which says, “God is an abuser” (Psalm 94:16). That’s why God hates the neglect of the powerless, which says, “God neglects the powerless” (Isaiah 1:17). That’s why God hates the worship of one gift over another, which says, “God plays favorites.” The power that the church has to sear impressions of God onto peoples’ souls is awesome and awful.

For those who find their faith mangled in a head-on collision with the church, like a totaled car on the highway, what is the way forward? In between “I guess I’ll just wait things out” and “I’m leaving for good” are five realities that frame our wounds, bring them into a better light, and help us take the next steps.

Every Community Wounds Itself

It has become increasingly popular to tear the church apart for bearing characteristics that are simply common of all people, Christian and non-Christian alike.

  • People don’t always know what we need.
  • People sometimes ignore and neglect us.
  • People don’t always say the right thing.
  • People can only have so many friends.
  • People aren’t our personal butlers or waiters.
  • People sometimes hurt us.
  • People are self-interested by nature.
  • People are awkward.

No need to make it about Christians. These things are true of the people sitting in your local Starbucks. We might be more forgiving there, but less understanding when we walk into our church. “Christians are so [blank].” No. People are so [blank]. And the church is composed of people — God’s people. Some better than average, and some still worse for now.

Sometimes, the wounds we receive from the church are the result of unacceptable and negligent attitudes or behavior in the church. Often, they are the result of unrealistic and unbiblical expectations we enforce on our brothers and sisters in Christ.

A Church Without Wounds

A church without wounds is an easy sell in a world where words are cheap: “They have healed the wound of my people lightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 8:11). In the last days, many are deceived because of the devil’s power to heal wounds: “its mortal wound was healed, and the whole earth marveled as they followed the beast” (Revelation 13:3). The world will be tempted to worship the healing of temporary wounds over the Savior from sin and Healer of souls? We’re tempted to do that now.

—Desiring God

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