How to Deal with Pain Caused by Christians and the Church
Hate is easy.
People are sinners who do sinful things to each other. Hatred over this is automatic.
Love is hard.
Jesus Christ, while you were yet a sinner, died for you. While you were an enemy of God, actively going against Him, He died for you.
God is willing to forgive; He’s slow to anger, gracious, and merciful. Why? Because God is love.
Love covers a multitude of sin.
I have many reasons to despise and hate the church and Christians. I’ve been in the church my entire life. There are sinful people in churches. I feel like I’ve met most of them.
Daily I hear people online talk about the abuse and pain they’ve suffered in church, my heart breaks a little more with each story. Every public revelation of a church leader who took advantage of someone under their care hurts a little more.
The pain is real. There is no way I’m trying to minimize the pain suffered at the hands of church people.
But you can’t hate those who’ve hurt you.
I hear a lot of resentment. Again, based on some of the stuff that’s happened to some people, I understand the hatred and resentment. I get it. I feel it myself to the degree I’ve been hurt.
But you can’t hang on to it in hatred and resentment. Resentment will tear you to pieces. It will turn you into the ugliness that hurt you.
If there is any hope for peace and resolution and love in you, it will come through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
God will judge each person according to their deeds, whether they were good or bad. He will set all things right. “Vengeance is mine, I will repay” says the Lord. That’s His job and He’ll do it. He already is.
Our job is to love our enemies.
I’m not saying it’s easy, nor am I even saying I do it right, but this is what I long for because Jesus did this for me and tells me it’s the way to my own freedom.
If you want to grow in Christ, if you want peace that passes understanding, the Bible is clear: love is the answer.
There is a tendency to morbidly celebrate our pain and all the terrible things we’ve suffered at the hands of sinful people. Be careful with it. Each retelling tends to strengthen the resentment and hatred.
You don’t just sweep it under the rug, pretend it didn’t happen. It did happen. It really hurt. But each retelling needs to be followed by a commitment to forgive. Seventy time seven. Every time you remember it; end with forgiveness.
Again, I know this sounds trite and seems to belittle the pain. That’s not the intent.
The intent is to bring the Gospel into life. If you appreciate the love, grace, and forgiveness you’ve received from Christ, then this should move you to show this to those who acted as your enemy. This is the painful flip side of grace and love.
Unfortunately, the church can be a brutal place. I’ve suffered through the brutality myself and I’ve found that harboring resentment does not help. Hatred and thoughts of revenge do not bring healing. They do bring attention and more likes, however, and that’s it’s ugly pull. Everyone enjoys wallowing in mutual hate of enemies.
Gospel love is the answer. It’s not easy, it was sheer suffering for Christ to forgive us. But He says it is the answer.
Christians need to lead the way in forgiveness. No one else is going to. Forgive and be nice to each other! Build each other up in Christ and put His love on display.