Christianity without Christians
In my message I admitted that sometimes I feel Christianity would be better without the Christians. Sometimes I think how great church would be if it weren’t for some of the people. Have you ever felt this or admitted it out loud? Having these thoughts and feelings is a hard place to be in.
What do you do when someone hurts you or breaks your trust? What if it’s a Christian? Even worse, what if you are hurt by a local church? Once you recognize the hurt, how do you engage friendships and community again?
Here are two thoughts to consider in this journey.
Engage at the Speed of Healing
Relational and church pain can cause two common responses. The first is to isolate and hide. We’ll say, “People can’t be trusted, so don’t trust people.” Instead of rebuilding healthy relationships, we refuse to move towards others or allow others to move towards us. We park our car in the relational parking lot, lock the doors and never move into community again. But we are made for and need relationship. Cars were not made for parking lots and people were not made for isolation. We need to love and be loved.
Another interesting response to relational pain is going too fast. Instead of isolating we recklessly try all over again. We don’t deal with our past pain. We don’t wisely rebuild trust. Instead, we go full speed, telling our deepest secrets to people who barely know our name. We drive at maximum speed into a community we don’t even know is safe because we met them last week. We don’t take time to work through our pain with a trusted mentor or counselor. Cars may be able to go 100 m.ph. down the highway, but it is a recipe for disaster.
If you have been hurt by Christians or the Church, engage in community at the speed of healing. Avoid the extremes of being stuck or speeding into new relationships. Reach out and move towards people. Get to know them and let them get to know you...over time. Time gives opportunity to build actual trust. Time is a healthy place to learn, “Can I trust these people?”, “Will I be loved and accepted?”, and “Is this a place where heathy relationships are lived out?"
Look for Signs of the Cross
Secondly, as you engage in relationships, look for Jesus at the center. Expecting a perfect community and perfect people will lead to either isolation or a cycle of constant pain. All relationships involve imperfect people. Our past hurt can lead us to look for perfect people, but they don’t exist. You yourself aren’t perfect.
Now, this doesn’t excuse hurt and sin. How do broken people live together in community? The cross must be the center of all we do. Jesus on the cross is the work of God for our salvation. It is also the way of God for our relationships.
Cross-shaped communities walk in humility, repentance, and love. Look for people who live out the way of Jesus when they sin or make mistakes. As you engage in new relationships and communities, look for words like, “I’m sorry, that was wrong.”, “I hurt you, will you forgive me?”, or “Tell me more, I want to hear what you mean by that.” Become a person who says those same things. Do people respond with grace and extend mercy in response? If so, you are on your way to building healthy trust and safety.
In Christ’s Love,