Why The Church Hurts

If you’ve been in church for any amount of time, you’ve seen its flaws. Some are easy to brush off while others can be deadly. It’s hard to have faith in an institution that seems to be laden with scandals, misconduct, legalism and people that just aren’t that fun. It’s also easy to hold that same institution to a higher standard. Why do people get hurt so deeply from something they don’t even participate in? What’s the deal?

Breaking down church hurt

Even if you’ve had a wonderful relationship with church, and you’re like, really in it, you know someone who just can’t stand it. Maybe you’re the person who has been hurt by the church. You have trauma from something that someone said or did. If you have been hurt by the very place you were supposed to find healing, you’re not alone. Here’s where the breakdown is: the church is a body of believers saved by grace, who sometimes forget they had nothing to contribute to their salvation. When you forget why you had to be saved, you become prideful and pride elevates yourself and brings others down. That person who has been hurt by the church has been hurt by someone else’s pride, and pride is what believers in Jesus have been called away from.

In John 17, Jesus prays that the church would be one, just as He and the Father are one. Earier in the Gospel of John, He told His disciples that people would know they were His followers by the love they have for one another.

“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” John 17:20-21 

 “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35

The Church has work to do

If the church is called to love and it’s called to unity, it has work to do. Yes, there is grace in Jesus (so much grace) but the same grace must be extended throughout the church and beyond the church. The grace that saved you doesn’t stop with you.

“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.” John 1:16

Grace doesn’t run out because the true Source of grace never ends. So, extend that grace. Give the grace you’ve been given to those around you. Even the ones who’ve hurt you – especially those who have hurt you. It’s easier said than done, but if it’s how people will know we know Jesus, it’s time to do it.

I am a Christian but I don’t need to go to church

Yes, you do. And no, that’s not legalistic. While going to church doesn’t make you a Christian, it is an important part of growing as a disciple of Jesus, even if you’ve been hurt by the church. Remember, the church is just a bunch of sinners who have been saved by grace. But finding community with people who know Jesus and are learning to become like Him will help you grow to look more like Him, too. We have to work together – not for salvation, but for unity.

How the Church can look like Jesus

Even if you can’t forget, forgive. Forgiving someone for hurting you doesn’t mean you brush it off, but it does require humility. Forgiveness says, “even though you hurt me, it’s not my right to punish what God has wiped clean.” When you forgive, you’re laying down your pride in order to elevate God’s kindness.

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” Colossians 3:12-14

What now?

If you know Christ as your Savior and you’re not part of a local church, get involved! There’s no perfect church because there are no perfect people, so extend the grace you need to those around you! Lean in to Christian community and trust the Lord to take care of your heart. When you feel bitterness creep in, speak the Word of God over your heart and mind. When you see bitterness springing up in another believer, speak the truth in love. We’re all part of one body and when that body works together, Christ is glorified and sinners are reconciled to God.

“…that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.  If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” 1 Corinthians 12:25-26


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