Faith · Forgiveness

Believers Need to Love the Church

There is a disturbing trend I’ve been noticing in those who claim to be Christians. It goes something like this:

I don’t go to church. Oh I love God. I especially love Jesus. But the church? It’s full of greedy hypocrites. They’re judgemental, they’re selfish, they do not follow what they preach. No, I can serve God better without them.

I’m not going to refute the statements above with my own thoughts. I think we sometimes get far too caught up in our own arguments.

Rather, I’m going to let the word of God speak into these lies…

“Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother or sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” 1 John 4:20

You cannot hate Christians and claim to love God. You are fooling yourself. These aren’t my words, they’re God’s!

“Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God’s slaves. Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor your leaders.” 1 Peter 2:17

Interesting that Peter addresses four behaviours that servants of Christ should follow. And the second one is to love the family of believers. Is this not enough proof that God is calling us to love the church?

Want to hear it from Jesus himself?

“A new commandment I give you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” John 13:34

“This is my commandment, that you love one another just as I have loved you.” John 15:12

“This I command you, that you love one another.” John 15:17

You don’t think Jesus was serious? He repeated it over three times in one speech!! It wasn’t a suggestion. He didn’t say, “Oh, it would be rather nice if you could learn to love each other.”

He commanded it!

If we hate the church but claim to love God, we are fooling ourselves. We are liars.

These are some harsh words for those who can’t stand Christians, yet have the audacity to bear the name themselves.

Now you may be upset at me, for speaking this way. You may think that I just don’t understand the pain you have faced at the hands of believers.

That may be true.

I may not know the pain you faced.

But I most definitely know the pain I faced at their hands. I am not a stranger to the pain people in the church can cause.

A few years ago I was sent away from a church after being brutally wounded by many untrue words. Spoken by people who thought they knew how God saw me, people who claimed to have God’s sight into my heart. In reality, I was misunderstood when asking for help with my children while my husband led worship. I was called bitter, merely for expressing my complete loneliness in the church. I hadn’t accused anyone, rather asked. But I was first harassed, then eventually sent away.

To make matters worse, the pastor himself called up my best friends and told them not to meet with me. Instead of standing up for me, they obeyed.

If this wouldn’t crush one’s faith in the church, I don’t know what would.

But I think that’s our problem, isn’t it? We have placed too much faith in the church, expecting the church to be perfect, that we have completely forgotten who the church is: We are merely sinners in the process of being saved.

This calls for a lot of grace. It is in Christ alone that we are supposed to have faith.

I have never stepped foot back into the church that sent me away. But I would, if they welcomed me. For I have forgiven them. Because the funny thing about forgiveness is that I need a whole lot of it. If I’m not willing to give it out, who will be willing to give it out to me?

Yet, even though I haven’t been welcomed back into the church that sent me away, many other churches have opened their arms to my family. This has brought me so much love for the body of Christ. Yes there are some hurtful people in the church… But there’s also people who have brought so much healing into my life.

There are really amazing people in the church. They are not all hypocrites! Some would give their last crust of bread to feed someone else in need. I have met people who truly open up their homes to the homeless. I’ve met people who pray for strangers as they would for their own children. I have met people who would give their entire savings to help a brother in need, without blinking an eye.

This is the church!!

I’m glad I gave her another chance. I would not have healed from my experience if I have not tried again to meet with a body of believers.

Have you been hurt by a church? Forgive and don’t write off an entire group of people based on the actions of a few. In the world we would call that prejudice. Why do we think any differently in the church?

9 thoughts on “Believers Need to Love the Church

  1. Most people have been hurt by the church in some point in their lives. I talked about this topic in my previous posts as well. There are also Pastors and leaders that have been hurt by the lay people–this is a reality that we don’t talk about.

    I myself have experienced hurt through gossip. So what’s the solution when we experience church hurt? The scriptures clearly tells us how to handle it in Matthew 18:15 & Matthew 18:22. It’s a tragedy when we allow people to make us not have anything to do with the church because of their actions when the scriptures says in Ephesians 6:12 we do not wrestle against flesh and blood. I’m glad you were able to heal Heather from the wrong that was done to you and your family and not allowed the enemy to make you bitter.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Exactly!! Our enemy is not other believers but the devil, who is more than thrilled when we fall prey to accusations, bitterness and hate for each other. I’m glad you recognize that and are choosing to forgive those who’ve hurt you.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m glad you posted this as someone who has been hurt by the church but still advocates the importance of faith communities! I’m blessed to be part of a really loving and supportive church family. I also feel disconcerted by this tend of people who claim to be Christians and don’t attend church. Responding to the call of discipleship is not meant to be done alone–just look at the earliest Christian community in Acts!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Yes, I have been hurt by the church and yes, it’s one reason we’ve barely gone to one in a year, but this week my husband and I have agreed that we need to go back to one so we are going to try to do so this weekend, on Christmas Eve, and from now on. We’re trying again, but I can’t lie and say I plan to jump right in and trust again. In fact, I don’t think I’ll over open myself up to someone from church again – not unless I want my business all over the church and town. No thanks. But, it will be a work in progress…so we will see.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First of all, I’m sorry. Sorry that God’s people hurt you. It is one of the most painful things one can experience. I took much comfort in the fact that even Jesus experienced it. He knew exactly how I felt with ever tear I cried.

      Secondly, I want to share that while forgiveness and love are commanded, trust is not. They are completely different in my experience.
      Yesterday I was able to look into one of the faces that hurt me the most and bless her. I have found so much healing that I even truly loved her, as in, I FELT love for her as we spoke. But trust? Friendship? Those things won’t happen unless she does her part to rebuild them.
      However, try not to hold many accountable to the actions of a few. I do trust many other believers again. It took time, but not everyone is the same.

      Qualities I look for? Quiet people. Humble people. I don’t spend any time with gossipers, literally, I don’t even respond to gossip anymore. The way people treat their spouses, children and parents speaks volumes about who they really are. If they put down their husbands or children I will obviously still associate with them, but they will not be in my trusted circle. If you watch carefully, you will find trustworthy people. I hope you meet them quickly and that you find healing from your past wounds. I’m very happy that you’ve decided to go back.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’m glad you are finding some healing and I’m sure mine will come someday too! Thank you for the good advice and guidelines on what to look for. I do love those who hurt me but I agree that trust and friendship are something that are earned and so far that hasn’t happened. Mainly because the only contact I’ve had is a letter telling me I was a liar….about what I have no idea, but okay..it didn’t help the process. lol.

        I do not not hang around the gossips because I know they will be gossiping about me next.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Great post Heather! Love and forgiveness are the root of healing from hurtful situations at church. I’m glad you were able to move forward after being mistreated. We wrote similar articles. God must really want to speak to His people about this topic. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

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