“Burned” By Church?

October 8, 2012

A lot of people today have a bad taste in their mouth for church.  As I serve as pastor, I run across people from time to time that say they have been burned by church and that’s why they quit going.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that lately.  I’ve seen “spiritual abuse” in several situations where it does seem like the church “turned their back” on people going through tough times.  Maybe a couple goes through a divorce and the church mistreats both the husband and wife.  I’ve seen a family ostracized because they had a child who was out of control.  Cases like these are sad.  That certainly doesn’t illustrate God’s love to those who need it most.

On the flip side, I’ve seen people that are in direct conflict with what they know to be God’s will and direction.  Their new sin begins to affect their wife, kids and church.  When a fellow believer cares enough to talk to them in love about their path, they totally cry “foul” and say the church has turned their back on them.

In reality, they are still very loved and the loving thing to do is to mention the issue with the friend.  I’ve seen those who have cried “foul” run away from those who love them and then blame the church.

One thing that cracked me up recently was hearing a former Sunday School teacher who had multiple affairs, even after being caught, proclaim, “I can’t stand fake Christians.”

He said that he felt “burned” by the church and fake Christians.  (I also know that men reached out to him in love during his failures and he refused to let them in.)  I would not call him or anyone else a “fake” Christian, but  I certainly don’t see that he would have rights to call others “fake”  just because they didn’t accept his sin or called him on his hypocrisy.

I think sometimes we “punch ourselves in the face” by our actions and then we blame God and the church when it is painful.  I know the church has a lot to learn about grace but I also believe that the church often gets a bum rap.

It’s a thin line to walk between helping each other move towards holiness, yet showing grace.  The church is filled with imperfect people, including this pastor.  I believe it’s important to accept everyone where they are and encourage them to go where God wants them to go.  The church is complained about because of “hypocrites”, yet complained about when they attempt to call people to repentance.  Thin line, indeed!

Those who claim to be teachers in Christ should be held to a higher level.  (See James 3:1)  If you’re a leader, you know better, and you shouldn’t be “burned” when you fail but you also should be repentant.  (That means stop the sin.)

What are your thoughts about this?

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My 2.5 year old son has learned to say, “I’m sorry Daddy.”  He says it so sweet that my heart melts when he says it.  It seems that he almost has the new idea that the “I’m sorry” words are magical and it erases the thing that he did wrong.  It’s like it’s ok to do something as long as you say, “I’m sorry” after doing it.

If he dumps out the dog food and says, “I’m sorry,” he thinks there are no consequences.  That worked for about a day, but I’m starting to think that he’s taking the transgressions a little lightly now.  I’m thinking that he believes by saying “I’m sorry” he can do the deed again in ten minutes.  I’m on to him now so I’ll encourage the “I’m sorry” words but I’ll also be taking steps to curb the behavior too.   (It would be easier if he wasn’t so cute, btw!)

I think we’re like that with our heavenly Father.   We think all we have to do is say, “Sorry God” and then go about our business without making any changes.

God’s grace and forgiveness is free but it isn’t cheap.

Our sin caused the murder of the Son of God.  Murder.  He paid the ultimate price for OUR transgressions.

An attitude of repentance is what God wants from us when we sin.  He wants us to turn from our sin.  Repentance is like a U-Turn.  You’re going one way, then you turn and go the opposite direction.

It seems that Satan has notes on every believer and he knows where we are weak.  Satan knows where we will fail and that’s where he attacks us.  Many believers are stuck in a pattern of sin and fall to the SAME sins just about every day.  They issue a “Sorry God” and continue the same path.  I admit it.  I’ve been guilty of taking sin too lightly at times too.

If we continue doing the same things today that we did yesterday, the results will be the same and the sin will remain.  If we ever want to grow in Christ and be used in a greater way by Him in His mission, WE HAVE TO DEAL WITH OUR SIN.

Get brutal.

  • If it’s a relationship that brings you down, break it off!
  • If you can’t seem to stop watching shows you shouldn’t watch, cancel cable.
  • If your marriage is in trouble, be relentless in making things right.  Get counseling.  Commit to a date night.  Whatever it takes.
  • If there is a secret sin that you’ve had for years, TELL SOMEBODY you trust and deal with it TODAY!

Don’t waste another day.  Be brutal with getting rid of your sin.  We aren’t expected to be perfect but we are called to be holy because He is holy.  He will help us but he won’t force us to love Him enough to obey Him.  If we love God, we will obey what He says.  That doesn’t mean we get to pick and choose.  Sure God offers grace, but He’s serious about that holiness thing.