Badly Burned

Since I last wrote I’ve been reminded that many of you have been badly burned by your church family.

You’ve been left out, gossiped about, misunderstood and mistreated. You’ve been called up to the front and scolded like a misbehaving child. You’ve not been forgiven or welcomed in by those who preach grace.

Your brothers didn’t defend you and your sisters didn’t have your back when you were most vulnerable. Your covenant family let you take the fall when it wasn’t all your fault. No one called when your heart was breaking.

The ones you blessed took your compassion for granted. You poured yourself out sacrificially and your offering was squandered; exploited by bad shepherds. You were considered a problem to be fixed, or worse, not considered at all.

The church has let you down and you’ve lost any joy and faith in her company. You don’t want to go it alone, of course, but where is the wisdom in joining your life to a people who you’re not sure you can fully trust? What’s the point?

I don’t know. This is a very difficult thing for many of us, myself included. But as a disciple of Jesus, I can only follow him, watch for him, learn from him, and determine to remain where he is.

And on the night that Jesus was betrayed, he ate a family meal with his twelve, and then a few hours later stood alone and in judgment by his entire covenant family.

Luke tells us that before Jesus appointed his disciples he spent all night on a mountain in prayer to God. All night. Who are my twelve, Father? Who will make your covenant family complete with me? And God gave his own son Judas.

In the recounting of these events, we are to identify with the disciples. We eat with Jesus in the upper-room but leave him when we’re scared. We follow Jesus day after day but think we deserve some profit; some gain for the effort.

And yet we are also called into the suffering of Jesus which includes every bit of ours.

The Son of Man was tempted to preserve himself. He was tempted to give Judas less forgiveness and grace. Jesus was tempted to pick his own loyal twelve and not submit to the will of his Father.

But if you follow Christ, know this: On the night Jesus was betrayed, he prayed for you. In a garden on another mountain, Jesus stayed up all night and prayed for those his Father would give to him.

“May they be one just as we are one.”

And when one of his twelve arrived with a traitor’s kiss, Jesus rose up to offer himself, a willing and sacrificial ransom, so you might be counted as part of his complete covenant family forever.

“May they be perfected in unity so that the world may know that you sent me – that you loved them as you love me.”

If you are a disciple of Jesus, this is your promise: The Father loves you as much as he loves his own son, and that any compassion, forgiveness, suffering, or sacrifice offered for love of him is never squandered or taken for granted by your Good Shepherd.

Peace to you, for your older brother Jesus considers you, prays for you, defends you, and keeps you and our Father’s growing family, the Church, even now.

Kim
*image by racelessgospel.com

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9 responses to Badly Burned

  1. Anonymous says:

    Yes, thank you.

    I was one who contacted you after your last post. I won’t go into all the details of my church issues, but suffice to say we were beaten down, maligned, mistreated, ignored, and eventually shunned by 99% of the church. I had been an elder and when I started to question my fellow elders as I watched them belittle, abandon, and lie to the congregation I soon myself and my family with no church and no friends.

    It took a couple months to step into a church again. It took 18 months to make it through an entire service without feeling uncomfortable. I attend with significant trust issues and don’t look to build relationships at this time. However, with my whole heart I believe Christ when he says he will build his kingdom through the church and I know that in whatever way I am able, and through his grace, I am to be a part of that. Thank you again for the reminder.

  2. Kim says:

    Oh man, this makes me so mad and sad and frustrated. I am simultaneously grieved at the destructive damage a few bad shepherds can inflict on their flock – on you and yours – and also immensely grateful for the wounded shepherds who haven’t abandoned the Church despite having every reason to do so. I know you won’t likely ever hear “I’m sorry” for those who have wronged you, but may you hear “Well done” by your Father when the time comes. Peace to you brother (and thank you for contacting me). – Kim

  3. Kim, thank you for you words. I have not been back to traditional church since my divorce three years ago. I could not agree more with how God cares for us as his own. I have not yet found a church body to trust and will not place myself in what can only be described as abuse or at the very least an ignorance of how to love people in divorce. My non believing friends have been far more christ like in this process of healing, and i believe that god has used them in big ways to teaxh me more about grace than i have learned in my whole lifetime of pew sitting, bible camps, christian education and serving in church leadership ever did. I am ever hopeful that i will find a community and i continue to look. For now, I am praising God in the hallway until he opens that door.

  4. Kim says:

    We can be harsh with our own, can’t we? I’m sad hearing your story. I don’t know all God has waiting for you beyond your hallway but I am praying right now that it is a place of light to you and yours, and that it is a means for you to bless and build up his body on earth. Peace to you (and thanks for your words…) – Kim

  5. You speak to so many hurting hearts with God’s words and your own. May you be blessed tenfold for the way you spread Gods love.

  6. Anonymous says:

    At first I was inclined to shoot this post straight to those who I thought needed it immediately. Oh dear.
    Thank you.

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