By Steve Simms
Ouch! Even the title of this post is a bit painful. However, if you've ever been hurt by church (and/or by people in church) here are 5 things that can help you heal your hurting heart.
- Forgive. It's hard to heal when you're focused on pain. Perhaps the best way to let pain go is to forgive. So what does that mean? Well, it's not about forgetting. Forgiving is about intentionally giving up any right you feel that you may have to hold anger, bitterness, resentment, disappointment, frustration, or anything else, against any person or any institution. Forgiveness is not a feeling; it's a decision to give up your perceived rights to judgment, bad feelings, and/or retaliation. Decide to lay those "rights" down, no matter how you feel.
- Resist any and all the accusations that come to your mind or heart, against the person, persons, or institutions who hurt you. Refuse to let accusations have any place in your words, thoughts, or feelings. When they come to you, say something like: "I gave up my right to accuse anyone about that anymore; so now there's no room in me for accusations." If you will continually resist accusations, they will back away.
- Begin to pray God's blessing on the institution, person, or persons who hurt you. Whether you feel like it or not, call their name and ask God to bless them, their health, their finances, their family, etc. Do this every time negative feelings about them come to your mind and gradually those negative feelings will shrink until they vanish.
- Move on, but don't just automatically assume that you have to (or need to) go back to another institutional church. Ask God what He wants you to do next and how He wants you to obey Hebrews 10:25 ". . . not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing." God may tell you to go to a house church, or to start a worship gathering in your home, or to meet regularly and pray with one or two friends, or He might want you to start a regular Skype meeting with Christians who live away from you, or He might direct you to attend another church. If you pray and listen, God will speak to you and direct you. Then follow His instructions.
- Learn about the Greek New Testament concept of "ekklesia." That word was mistranslated into English as "church," but "ekklesia" actually was the name for the city council in ancient, democratic, Greek city states. Ekklesia was a town meeting where everyone present was considered equal and anyone could speak up and share what was on their heart. I believe Paul was referring to the ekklesia style of meeting in 1 Corinthians 14:26 when he stats that everyone can have something to share in a Christian gathering.
Here's a quote from ONE: Unfolding God's Eternal Purpose From House To House:
"It is imperative that a distinction be made between the assembly as defined by the New Testament and churches as they are known today."
That distinction can help heal your church hurt by showing you that God has an alternative way of Christians meeting together than what we call church.