Colossians 3:13 NLT, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.”
As I was writing, “You Are Not Alone” a couple of days ago, I kept thinking about those in the body of Christ who have been hurt at some point by fellow believers. It’s still heavy on my heart right now, even as I write this. Some are so hurt that they have made a decision to no longer attend church, or even if they do, the pain they feel keeps them from experiencing the joy that God wants them to have. Or they may isolate themselves by not getting involved in the ministry because they fear getting hurt again. They have no peace because of the wrong they believe was done to them.
The reality is that every believer may not feel safe in God’s house for whatever the reason. It’s never God’s will for any of His children to feel uncomfortable or unwelcome in His house. He intends for us all to find a church home that is right for us. He is willing to lead us to the perfect place of worship when we ask.
As I thought about believers who have been hurt at church, the only word that kept coming to my mind is forgiveness. Forgiveness is what God requires of us, regardless of circumstances. There are no excuses, He calls us to forgive. When forgiveness is a struggle, we can pray and ask for His help, and He will help us. Forgiveness opens up the door for healing and restoration. Every strained relationship may not necessarily be reconciled, because some people are better off not being a part of your life, but even so, there still needs to be forgiveness. Having a forgiving nature, causes us to continue to progress in our walk with God, unforgiveness hinders our walk with God.
People are not perfect, so naturally the church is not going to be perfect. However as Christians, we do need to show love to those around us. One thing I have heard over and over from people is that they feel left out in church. They feel that certain people or families in the church are more important than others. That should not be the case, because in God’s eyes we are all valuable and He is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11). We all have gifts and talents that He wants us to use for His glory.
Once you know you are in the church God wants you to be in, then you can trust Him to open the right opportunities for you. Sometimes we can attend a church for years, and then God will call us out and into another church (This has happened to me a couple of times.) It’s important to go if that happens, because otherwise you won’t be content anymore. Things, including relationships, won’t work out if you are not where God wants you to be. Don’t let having a certain social status or position keep you in the wrong church. God has plans for you at the new place of worship that are good.
It’s important to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith. People will fall short, because we all fall short sometimes. We have to forgive, walk in love and keep serving God. Our Father’s house should be a place of love. Every member of God’s family and those who visit, should experience that love when they enter His house. Someone once told me that she hadn’t been to church in over a year because someone did her wrong. Then it occurred to me that even when people do us wrong at work, we have to keep going because we need our paycheck. It works the same with church, we have to keep going because we need the spiritual strength and the fellowship with our spiritual family.
John 13:34 NIV, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
Don’t let the sin or carelessness of others cause you to miss out on worshipping with your fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. God is faithful and He knows your every need. I pray God will help anyone reading this who is struggling in this area. Let love and forgiveness rule and reign in your heart. On the other side of the hurt, discouragement, and unforgiveness that you feel is freedom, the freedom Jesus died for you to have. Don’t let the enemy steal that freedom from you. Trust God to bring you comfort and healing, and then move forward in His grace.