I was glad when they said to me, "Let us go to the house of the LORD!" - Psalm 122:1
As I shared yesterday, there are so many reasons to rejoice as we enter the house of the Lord every week, but if we’re being honest, it’s hard to walk into a church when there are problems. When a conflict arises between you and another member of the congregation, or when you discover the church is poorly organized and managed, or when you discover deceit and betrayal, it’s easier to just stay home. It’s hard to rejoice when pieces of the world creep into the sanctuary and wreak havoc on what was once a respite.
The sad reality is that churches are run by people, and people are broken ~ or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, - Romans 3:23. Unfortunately, leadership and the believers in a church don’t get an exemption from that truth. In every church, there will be times when poor decisions will negatively impact the people.
I know intimately the pain caused by both leadership and fellow congregation members. My heart has been deeply wounded by people I expected to act differently.
In many ways, the hurt caused by a church or its family members cuts deeper because of the level of trust placed in the people. Since these family members are believers, we hold them to a higher standard. Our expectations are higher because our trust runs deeper. They know the truth better than the people we encounter in the world, so we expect them to act in accordance with it -every single time. We expect them not to have blind spots, not to be driven by selfish motives, and for them to always be thinking of the greater good. We want to believe the people we find in church aren’t subject to the pull of the world, and they wouldn’t knowingly commit a sin. We want to believe they are always acting in accordance with Scripture. We expect them to be above reproach.
So when they act outside of scripture, we are more deeply wounded by their actions. And all this makes forgiveness so much more difficult. My heart has nursed the wounds of past church hurt for years. I’ve had to lay that pain down at the feet of Jesus more times than I can count, and I still pick it up from time to time.
So what are we called to do when there is division in our church, and our wounds are deep? Psalm 122 reminds us we are called to pray. As this psalmist is standing in the city of Jerusalem, he is praying for peace within the city. As with our churches, Jerusalem is built as a city that is bound firmly together - the original intent on construction is unity. That unity is only found as the result of relentless prayers over the years by its people.
7 Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!"
8 For my brothers and companions' sake I will say, "Peace be within you!"
9 For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good. - Psalm 122:7-9
For the sake of the church, we are called to seek good and pray for peace. The enemy seeks division, and when he can create it in the house of the Lord, he wins. When he can cause people to flee from a church and fellow believers, he wins. When he can cause deep wounds of betrayal and mistrust between the congregation and it’s leadership, he wins. We have to stand firm on the foundation of forgiveness, and fervently pray for the protection of peace in our churches. Even when we’re hurt by the actions of people within our churches.
Press on ~ you are loved 💗
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