I write this morning with a deep heavy sigh. If a church is the Bride of Christ, then why, please tell me why, do some churches bear no resemblance to the Savior?
I have a friend who is in a horrible situation. From her earliest days, she has attended church with unwavering faithfulness. She has followed the teachings about dress, behavior and “Thou shalt nots” strictly. She has sincerely believed that since she’s saved, she doesn’t sin — because that’s what her denomination teaches. She has scrimped and saved in order to attend Camp Meeting every summer. It was actually her family’s yearly vacation. From my perspective, hers has been a very restricted and legalistic life, but in her circle, she has epitomized the role of “a good church member.”
Several months ago, she confessed to her pastor that she was struggling with some issues. These were not overt sins, certainly nothing like adultery, abuse, lying, murder, theft or the like. Hers was a matter of the heart, of feelings. Something I can certainly relate to, can’t you? The kind of thing I find myself confessing and asking forgiveness for again and again.
Her pastor’s response was shocking. He told her that she needed to get out of the church, that she wasn’t welcome there, and worst of all, he told her that God was through with her. GOD WAS THROUGH WITH HER??? How could anyone who calls himself a pastor utter such words?? Suddenly, the whole focus of each day and week was stripped away from her. With that one pronouncement, she also lost all of her friends, because she had surrounded herself with the people who attend that church.
I have been both baffled, troubled and disgusted by this friend’s situation. It is so far removed from what Scripture reveals about the nature and character of Christ, of Who He is, of how He behaved, of how He treated others, of what He taught. What did He say about the ones who were dividing His clothes while He hung on the cross? “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” Luke 23:34. What did He say to the woman caught in adultery? “Go and sin no more.” Read the whole amazing account in John 8:1-11.
Jesus taught us to forgive.
Jesus gave of Himself and was humble. Read Philippians 2:1-11 and James 4:6.
Jesus taught us to pray. He prayed FOR others, WITH others and ALONE. Read Matthew 19:13, Luke 9:28, Luke 5:16
Jesus was compassionate. Matthew 9:36 says He “was moved with compassion.”
Jesus was FULL of the fruit of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. Galatians 5:22-23.
It seems to me that being able to quote reams of Bible verses and being zealous for following church rules become meaningless acts, even harmful, if those acts are done with cruelty, a heavy-handedness and a demeanor that is the opposite of what Jesus exhibited.
Would you please pray with me for my friend? Would you please pray for her to be delivered from this bondage and to find forgiveness, light, love and freedom in Christ? I believe there is tremendous power in prayer and even MORE power in MORE prayer.