THE classic accusation levelled at churches is that they're “full of hypocrites” – meaning, presumably, people who say one thing but do another. “Hypocrite”, as I recall, relates to wearing a mask, like Greek actors used to. It was their job to deceive and to hide their real selves away.
Well, I'd agree that churches are certainly full of imperfect people. They're either people who don't know Christ or people who do and are on the journey of becoming like Him. Either way, flawed and fallible is the order of the day. Some of that fallibility results in mask-wearing and the aforementioned hypocrisy. So maybe the accusation is at least partly valid. God's idea was that as He works in and through these flawed, but surrendered people, others get to see His glory, love and power – and that they, in turn, get themselves right with Him.
As Christians we don't like to admit that sometimes this doesn't happen. That Christians let each other down. And, specifically, sometimes those in charge of our churches hurt us big time because their fallibility and mask-wearing clouds their judgement and drowns out God's truth.
We don't like it but it happens. It recently happened to me and my wife.
The details don't matter. What matters is that we ended up in a place of rejection; a place of fear, anger and uncertainty. Unfortunately we won't be the last, so I hope some of what I write here might help others on the road to recovery.
God has led us, at least for now, to a new congregation. Those in charge have given us a warm and understanding welcome – along with some simple advice. I like lists so here's the 1-2-3:
- Take time. It's the worst kind of cliché to say that time's a great healer, and by itself it does seem a bit of cold comfort. But as an exhortation not to be impatient and to have hope, especially where God's in the picture, it's a sound part of the strategy. We've already been on this journey for months and I expect it may be months more before I feel free(ish) of resentment and insecurity.
- Pray; forgive; repent. We were urged to bring it all before God and to ask Him who and what we need to forgive. That much I suppose is obvious. Slightly less obvious is that it may not be a one-off exercise, requiring repetition at intervals. Even less obvious is asking the Lord what I need to repent of and ask for forgiveness for. I am not 100% innocent, and in your hurtful situation neither are you.
- Don't push against a closed door. Step 2 is between me and God. The people responsible aren't involved. Forgiving them before God changes me; asking God for forgiveness changes me. It may feel like they hold the key to moving on, but if they're unavailable or unwilling that'd leave me stuck. That means I mustn't rely on a face to face reconciliation. Maybe that'll come in time (dang it, there's that time stuff again) but if I can't face talking to them, or my approaches are rebuffed, it's OK.
And that's all there is to it 🙂 Oh, and walking with Jesus day by day. And resisting the Devil. And let's not forget staying connected with His people (or at least some of His people, somewhere or other). Do all that and we'll emerge stronger, one day. God promises it.
P.S. I also recommend tea. Tea is good.