Night-Whisper | FORGIVE
2 Timothy 4:13-16
Bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas when you come — and the books, especially the parchments. Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm. May the Lord repay him according to his works. You also must beware of him, for he has greatly resisted our words. At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me. May it not be charged against them. NKJV
It was only recently when I came across this disturbing little description of ‘Church hurt.’ The context was when I was in discussion with a Pastor of a church growing mostly by ‘transfer growth’ (which, by the way, is the way most churches have been growing in the West for quite some time!) who remarked: “The problem I have here now Robert is a lot these new people are ‘Church hurt,’ you know, they are ‘gun shy’ of any kind of church leadership.”
My immediate response was to point out that there are many Pastors that are ‘church hurt’ as well! At the beginning of 2014, one source of Pastoral statistic revealed the following for the USA alone: ‘4,000 new churches begin each year and 7,000 churches close. Over 1,700 pastors left the ministry every month last year. (note: it’s actually around 2,000 now) and over 1,300 pastors were terminated by the local church each month, many without cause. (Terminated. What an apt description!) Over 3,500 people a day left the church last year and many denominations report an ‘empty pulpit crisis, ’ where they cannot find ministers willing to fill positions.’ Frankly, it’s an utter shambles and the question to be asked is this: “Who hasn’t been ‘Church hurt?’
There are three ways to get hurt in church. 1) Pastors/Leaders hurt the congregation. 2) Congregations hurt the Pastor and or the Leadership. 3) Congregation members hurt each other. Now then, such constant and continuing hurts make a local church the most unappetizing group of people anyone in their right mind would want to be involved with! In light of this, any attempt at unity is but a plastic sham for this situation must be displeasing to God in the extreme. So, what is the answer?
Now many people would say that the only real answer to church hurt is forgiveness. They are wrong! You see, the only real answer to ‘church hurt’ is to face the issue causing the hurt and then deal with it Biblically and head on, and always with a view to glorifying God, and acting righteously and maintaining a real unity of the Spirit through all attempts at reconciliation and restoration, where it is righteously and reasonably possible! Then, and only then, can the blessings of real forgiveness be found and more importantly, felt.
Any so called forgiveness before this happens is like trying to swallow a poisonous, spiked ball blow-fish without any water. It ‘aint gonna happen!
So what is the answer to removing church hurt then? Well, there are three answers I would like to suggest to you today:
First, recognize that the Scriptures are the best place for human resource response to church hurt. ( See Matthew 18:15-18 & 1 Timothy 5:19) My point is this: follow Scriptural guidelines and the local church just might turn into a place and people blessing!
Second, be aware that unfortunately, 99.999% of all known Western churches do not follow Scriptural guidelines. Indeed, these have been replaced with local church contract employment law and governance documents, which quite frankly, the world would not put up with for a moment. Therefore, expect to be hurt. It is a matter of time.
Are you shocked yet?
Thirdly, whether you are in the .001% of churches following Biblical guidelines or the other 99.999%, you must get a thick skin! If you are wanting to get a job in a church and make a living from it, get a thick skin and if you can’t get a thick skin, then go and get another job. Yeah, yeah, yeah, call it a ‘calling’ if you want, but in the end Pastor, you have a contract of employment and that means you have a job! Noting more, and far less you would get in the world. Now then, if you are a congregational member and signed up to local church laws and covenants, statements of faiths and practice, and are maybe part of man-made denominational structure as well as having church staff, a governing board, and various employment contracts which you probably have not, nor will ever see, then ‘suck it up’ and function within that mess! If you don’t do this with your eyes wide open, then you are going to get hurt, and my friends, it is a matter of when and not if.
Are you outraged yet?
Look you saint, this side of the resurrection, the church, mixed with Tares as it is and subject to all the snares of the devil, can be one of the most dangerous places on the planet. I mean, even the apostle Paul was hemmed in by Hymenaeus, and, according to our text for tonight, on occasion was crapped on by a copper-smith.
Am I being too raw for you tonight?
Well, I need to real and raw for you tonight, for I know that far too many people are absent from the local gathering of believers simply because their very real and continuously raw hurts have not been dealt with. So, let me deal with them right now.
Face it. Many incidents and people will not be seen to be dealt with in a righteous manner this side of either the great white throne judgment or the judgment seat of Christ. The unrighteousness continues. Even so, as much as you can, forgive them anyway, and ask God to help YOU forgive them deeply from the heart as well. This will take time. I know! This will take time. But why should you become a cripple and at the end of your days, a bitter person, a bit of the person you should be, sad and disappointed in God over the unrighteous acts of others? Why should you be this way when you know that ‘all things end in judgment’ and that there is an accounting for all things, and that includes the hurts done to you. Once you see this, then you don’t have to gloss over any injustice, no indeed, you can call it what it was, call it even what it continues to be, and do this while leaving any revenge and reckoning with God. Get over it. No really please, get over these Church hurts! Get a thick skin toward these things, else they will consume you and you will become no good to God, nor man nor beast.
I am afraid to say that the churches that most of us have experienced are not God’s idea. However, don’t be fooled, for there is no safe Shangri-La church this side of the gates of heaven anyway, for even the true church militant on earth is subject both to infiltration and the influences of self-righteous and self-serving idiots.
Therefore my friends, sometimes, separation from church people and church places is not only safety, but it is life and strength and peace for you. In any event, you must forgive and you must not hate. With these two things, that is, with forgiveness and the removal of the bile of hate, it is only the power of God that can help you. Therefore, where ‘church hurts’ remain unresolved and seemingly discarded and as forgotten as yesterday’s old and very cold toast, you must turn to God for the strength to forgive those who have done you wrong.
Oh, and while you are on your knees for this, ask God to show you who you might have wronged and hurt in church as well!
Listen: I write to you, which thing is true in Him and in you, because the darkness is passing away, and the true light is already shining. He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him. But he who hates his brother is in darkness and walks in darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:8-11NKJV)
Pray: Father, I do not pray for a callous heart, but oh my God, give me a thick and calloused skin. My revenge; my disappointments; my hurt; my losses; my gossiped name; my wrongly marred reputation; together with all my the outrage and my spitting bile, I gladly give to you. I acknowledge that there can be no peace without righteousness, and therefore I seek that peace between persons, only in the righteousness to come. Meanwhile, knowing that You never gloss over injustice and sin, knowing that You will call an accounting of all things, I freely forgive those who have hurt me, both fully and without reserve. My prayer tonight my Father is simply this: “No gloss. No bile. Amen and let it be so.”