Ok, so it’s with much trepidation that I continue the series that I started on Monday about why our family is not in a local church. I’ve decided this is just going to be an ongoing series. I don’t know how long it’s going to last.
Today I’m only going to focus on a small part of it, but it’s very important. It’s something we need to be talking about as the body of Christ…Christians hurting other Christians.
My husband and I live in a very rural area. It’s a 15 minute drive to the nearest grocery store and 30 minutes to my favorite one. There’s not even a red light between it and my house. The major discount stores are at least 40 minutes away. And the mall is a full hour’s drive.
Believe me, the Lord and I have had long talks about contentment.
Moving here was a difficult decision. We had a church home in our previous city that we loved. Our small group was a family to us. We both experienced tremendous spiritual growth there. But we knew that the Lord was calling us to move.
Because we are in such a rural area, there aren’t a lot of options where we live. Most people go to one of the mainline denominations. These churches don’t necessarily line up with some core beliefs that we have…core beliefs that we don’t believe we can compromise.
Shortly after moving here, we found a church ten minutes from our home that mostly matched up with those beliefs. We committed ourselves fully to that church. We attended nearly every service and function for 19 months. I served on staff for almost a year.
We were also attacked at that church.
I won’t go into details. But we tried to work through it. We didn’t want to leave. We talked to the elders and the pastor who supported us. We prayed and stood firm in the Lord. But the attacks continued in subtle ways.
It also didn’t help that no matter how hard we tried, the church never became a church home. We never really felt like we belonged. I had some sweet lady friends. But we never really developed any couple friends. We tried. The more we tried, the more isolated we felt.
Eventually something happened that we couldn’t overlook. It was that one last thing. So we took a week off and spent time in prayer. In the end, we knew that the Lord was releasing us from that church.
We met with the pastor and stepped away on good terms. We hardly talked to anyone after we left. We didn’t want to cause division. That wasn’t our heart.
I never could have imagined the pain I felt. It was different than anything I had experienced before. Church is supposed to be a safe place. I didn’t know Christians could hurt other Christians that way. It didn't line up with my life long experience with the church.
Sadly I know now that it is commonplace.
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:30-31
My friends, there is no qualifier on this scripture. It doesn’t say, love as long as you agree with them. It doesn’t say love as long as you like them. It doesn’t say love when it’s convenient. It says, love your neighbor.
This applies to all of our neighbors, including other believers.
Unfortunately we tend to act the worst around those we love. The church is no exception. We hold fellow Christians to a different standard. And we should, we have a responsibility to hold each other accountable.
But this must be done in love…not judgement.
We have to be careful what we say to others. We have to be careful that in our righteous indignation we’re not slandering others or causing division. We have to remember to speak words of love and life, no matter how much we disagree with them.
Please know that I don’t hold resentment towards those who attacked or those who knew and didn't act. They didn’t realize the pain they were causing. They didn’t know that there were personal situations that were making their attacks even more difficult to bear.
I also don’t think I am harboring a spirit of offense. Now I can’t say for certain that I am completely healed from this incident. It has taken time to work through it all. But one thing I know is that God is still on the throne and there is a purpose for it all. So it is in Him, I put my trust and my hope.
Please also know there is more to our story of why we are not in a local church now. But that is for another day. I also want to talk more about working through the pain caused by other believers. But again that is for another day.
In the meantime, I want to thank you for continuing to read this long (and probably rambling post). And for hearing my heart. It's not easy to write these things or post them. But I know it is necessary. May others be encouraged through our story.
Blessings to you my sweet friends!