Through the years I have seen many people mistreated not only by church leadership but also by their brothers and sisters in Christ. I have seen people leave church spiritually broken most especially when church leadership has hurt them. People broken by those who were supposed to lift them up and help them succeed. Sad but true. So, what can you do when this happens to you? The best you can do is pray for those who hurt you. Why? Because first, when you pray for those who have hurt you, you are showing the enemy of our souls that you are a child of God! You will not be broken! You will not harbor unforgiveness! You will choose to love! Even when love hurts! And second, when you pray for those who have hurt you, it is pretty much impossible to hold unforgiveness in your heart towards them. So, pray, wounded soldier, pray! Additionally, you can try to talk to the leader or Christian who hurt you but what do you do when the leaders who hurt you refuse to talk to you? The exact same thing, pray! And know that you have done your best because you have reached out. It is no longer on you; it is on them. Shake the dust from your feet and move on!
Hurt and betrayal from those in the church are some of the hardest to get past because church is supposed to be a safe place. But so often this is not the case. Remember the story of the good Samaritan? The man was hurt and broken, yet the church people passed him by. This was not pleasing to the Lord at all. Yet it still happens today. Though the Christians and the leaders in the church may reach out to those who are obviously physically hurt, they unfortunately will very often pass by those who are emotionally and spiritually hurting every day and do absolutely nothing. They don’t want to get involved, it’s not their problem. I have actually heard it preached that the preacher didn’t want to be around hurting people, only happy people because he wanted to feel good. Oh, how sad a thing to say! Jesus came for the hurting. He wanted to be where the hurting people were! The thing to remember is this – God is not people! God is God! When Christian people hurt you don’t get mad at God. He does not control people or their actions. He gave us all a free will. People, even Christians, are fallible. God is a god of love and reconciliation. He hates discord, gossip, jealousy, envy, selfishness, lies, etc… He told us that we should always esteem our brother above ourselves. But sadly, we don’t often do this. People hurt people. What they do or have done is not hidden from God’s eyes. However, neither is your response to the hurt they inflicted. They will be held accountable for the hurt and the neglect to reconcile, even more so when they hold a leadership position. But you also will be held accountable for your action and reaction. Choose to walk in love. That does not mean to ignore the hurt. The hurt is real. Betrayal is real. And it is one of the hardest hurts to get past. Counselors will tell you that it can take years to recover from a friend’s betray. That may be true without God, but if you will go to God with your hurt and give it all to him, he will remove the thorns of the betrayal and heal the wound. You will not have to walk around as a wounded soldier for years! Remember, God is always near to those who are brokenhearted. He is just waiting for you to bring it to him!
I look at this world and I see how Christianity is rejected and even hated by the world. Christians will say it is Satan’s doing. I say, partly but not completely. It is also the Christian’s doing. We have to take responsibility and stop looking for a scapegoat. The world has a hard time seeing the love of the Christian. God’s word says that we are supposed to be out in the world preaching the gospel. All of us, not just Pastor’s. Not all preaching is done with sermons. Some preaching is done with a smile to a stranger, being kind wherever you are and whomever you are with, showing patience when patience is running thin, helping those who need help, a phone call just to ask, “how are you?” Spending time with Jesus and taking the fragrance of him with you wherever you go! Changing the atmosphere for the better!
God’s word says that these signs will follow those who believe…they will lay hands on the sick and they will recover. (Mark 16:15-20) Sadly, though, we most often hang around our church buddies, living our lifestyles within our Christian circles, gossiping about each other, lifting ourselves up while making others sound bad, backbiting, causing turmoil and tension and leaving trails of hurt wherever we go, and flat out telling lies about others. I know of a lady who left the church shamed by a respected member of the church who started a vicious lie about her and the leadership heard it and removed her from her place of ministry. It was a fabricated lie and this beautiful woman of God was now a wounded soldier. We also will go out to eat and leave the tiniest tips we can, we are rude to the waiters and waitresses, our attitudes stink because we expect everyone to be nice to us all the time and when they aren’t, well shame on them! The thing is, it’s hard to find the joy within our hearts when we walk around hurting badly on the inside. So, we take that hurt wherever we go, and we spread it around. And then we sit in our Christian circles and wonder why the world hates us. We wonder why our prayers aren’t getting answered. We wonder why people around us are dying and we are powerless to help them. We walk around with our form of godliness, denying the power within and shaking our fingers at all the sinners and even the Christians who walk differently than our oh-so-perfect selves do! We say things like, “Can you believe he did such a thing! How dare she wear that! I saw her with a glass of wine! I saw him talking to another woman! If she does that it will kill her! She’s going to die anyway! No prayer will help him! That couple is having problems, have you heard? Well, let me tell you so we can pray for them!” Oh, I could go on! The thing is, there is nothing that is ever said in secret. There are always at least two who also hear, God and the enemy of our souls. What displeases God makes Satan dance with joy. He takes those words that we speak against each other and uses them against us before God. In Revelation 12 it talks about how the accuser of the brethren is before God day and night. In addition to our un-Christlike actions, he uses our own words against us! Just like a judge and a jury down here. Why do you think the first thing an arrested person is told is to remain silent? Because anything they say can and will be used against them! Not only does Satan use our own words against us, he uses the words we say against others to hurt them. Example: (Satan to God) “You can’t trust sister so-and-so, even the leader of the church says she did such and such!”
As the church, we need to weigh very carefully everything we say and everything we do. Words are powerful! God created the whole world by his words, and he made us in his image! Our words are powerful because we are his children and we are to be like him! Can we create a world from nothing like God did? No! But we can create a world of mess or we can create a world of love, peace, forgiveness and reconciliation. Your choice. God’s word says let your yes be yes and your no be no, anything else is from the enemy. Mathew 5:37. In other words, when you tell someone something – do it! Keep your word! Not keeping your word is equal to lying. And Satan is the father of liars. If you don’t keep your word you are not acting like God, you are acting like Satan and just like him, you are going to create a world of mess wherever you go.
As Christians, we must read God’s word daily to learn what a Christian is and to walk like a Christian. We are to be Christians! Christians are not perfect, but we are to strive to be perfect like He is perfect. The more we strive for it the better we will get at it. In addition, learn to fear and reverence God! This is something that is most definitely lacking in our Christian culture today. There is very little true fear of God. We believe God is love, and he is, but he is also our Judge. Who stands before a judge with no fear? Only a fool. Church, it’s time to grow up! Look around! The world needs what God has to offer. We are to be his hands, his feet, his mouth! We are sent to leave our comfortable Christian circles and go into the world. And when we do, if the world does not recognize that there is something different about us, then we are failing. My son’s neighbor recently said that he and his family were weird. Oh, how I loved hearing that! They noticed! The world should notice! We should not have to say we are Christian, we should show it in such a way that they should say, “Hey, there goes (or here comes) a Christian!”
Finally, stop hurting your brothers and your sisters in Christ, take care of one another. If one part of the body is hurting, the whole body is hurt. Treat others the way you want to be treated and love each other as yourself. In conclusion, CS Lewis said, “To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” When you have been hurt or betrayed this may be difficult, but the truth is, if you want answers to prayer you need to forgive, otherwise, you are praying in vain.
The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 2while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 1 Corinthians 12:21-26
If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heave is perfect. Matt. 5:48
A perverse person stirs up conflict, and a gossip separates close friends. Proverbs 16:28
For I am afraid that when I come I may not find you as I want you to be, and you may not find me as you want me to be. I fear that there may be discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance and disorder. 2 Cor. 12:20
Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions. Proverbs 18
The first to plead his case seems right, until another comes and examines him. Proverbs 18:17
Their lives became full of every kind of wickedness, sin, greed, hate, envy, murder, quarreling, deception, malicious behavior, and gossip. Romans 1:29
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. James And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. James 3:17-18
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well.” After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it. Mark 16:15-19
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4
“And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” (Mark 11:25 ESV)
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, 24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.