For I will restore you to health, and
I will heal you of your wounds, declares the LORD
There is a rehab clinic for almost every affliction and addiction that plagues our society. Except church. Wednesday's blog post about having a radical, wild faith walk with God sparked some great comments from sisters from around the nation. One comment, in particular, has been on my heart. Our sister Stephanie wrote this:
To be honest, I was an on fire, radical for Jesus sister until the church inflicted deep wounds. Constantly being criticized for having a bounce in my step and a praise on my lips. Lies and backstabbing was a daily occurrence. I thought I wouldn't survive and I too was functionally depressed...still smiling then going home and crying for hours. I thank God for renewal. I am still a little gun-shy, but He is doing a wonderful thing in my life. I won't turn my back on God...you can count me in!
Sadly, Stephanie's story is not unique. There are millions of people - millions of Christians - who love God but who despise church. They've been scarred by church and, as a result, they no longer find it necessary to maintain their relationship with God. I know people who think church is all about getting money. Or, that congregations tolerate sexual sins all the while preaching holiness in the pulpit. Some folk are turned off by church because of the power trips and manipulation for positions. Others think church has turned into an entertainment venue instead of a spiritual haven. There a variety of reasons why Christians leave the church and why non-Christians won't even consider joining a church. And, as someone who has been wounded by church in the past, I empathize with the "lost" sheep.
During a season in my life, I was a "lost" sheep, too. I didn't necessarily despise church or forsake it altogether, but I had decided that I wasn't going to get fully invested in it. Before my husband became pastor, I sat on the back pew, and as soon as church dismissed, I "ran" to the car, trying to avoid as many people as possible. I wouldn't even give the members a chance to get to know me because I was still harboring the past hurt and disrespect that I endured in another church, a church that totally disregarded the full humanity of women. So, to see me now, fully invested, moving forward in ministry to women -- inside and outside of the church walls -- is nothing but a miracle. Don't believe me? Ask my husband. I'm sure he did some serious praying over me when I was asleep because I was adamant and arrogant about being a back pew church member.
I know personally that if you give God a chance, He will rehabilitate and restore you to wholeness. Not to the place where you were before you were hurt, but to an even better, more secure place. I have been through what my husband calls "church rehab." This was an extended process of learning how to live in the spirit and not in the flesh, of trusting God's Word, and of submitting to the situations and the people God placed in my life. You see, rehab is not about church or the people in church; it's about your personal relationship with God and your assignment in the Body of Christ. It doesn't excuse bad behavior or justify dysfunction. What rehab does is fortifies your heart and reconnects your spirit back to God so you can get into position to receive your Kingdom/church assignment. And, once you begin working in that assignment, the anointing will empower you to do your work in spite of and in the midst of the drama.
There will always be drama, mess, struggle, and trials in churches because Satan's job is to attack the Body of Christ (the Church) with all his might. That's his job. So expect spiritual warfare from time to time. Church rehab, however, empowers you to be a mighty warrior within the Body and to clothe yourself with the whole armor of God (Eph 6:11) so you can sit in the pew, sing in the choir, and work in a ministry purposely and joyfully, all the while recognizing and resisting the Devil's schemes.
God has a local church designed just for you. If you aren't already in a church where the Word of God is paramount, then it's time to start looking for one. You need a solid Word, free Worship, and servant-oriented Work. When you find that, you will be in the right place and the right position to love church just as much as I do. i can't imagine my life without it. I thank God for going after me, His lost sheep, and guiding me to the place where I could be rehabilitated and restored in Christ.
So, I'm wondering sisters. Have you ever been a "lost" sheep? What type of relationship(s) have you had with church? Do you think you need to go through church rehab?
Your Alabaster Tip of the Day:
Be on the lookout for a "Church Rehab" class coming soon! This might be just what the heavenly doctor ordered for you. It's time to get whole and get to work building the Kingdom of God through the Body of Christ.