"I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings."
~ I Corinthians 9:23
She said to me, "I don't go to church because they are the most 'non-Christian-like people' I have ever met."
It was a very real conversation I had with someone who had been hurt so deeply by a group of people at a church a woman had left. The entire conversation left me feeling very sad.
The body of Christ, no matter how wonderful it can and should be, is sometimes flawed by folks with "good intentions" and "theology!"
The incorporation of God's children into hands and feet can sometimes produce fists and kicks. Brutal tongues for mouths and eyes with blinders that prevent the bigger picture.
The love of God is marred in human experiences and conditioned by interpretations and teaching.
So the body is not perfect!
I'm not defending the church, there are plenty out there who already attempt that enough. However, I am saying this, the body of Christ exists for ALL, and because it is, there has to be healing and forgiveness also available to all!
How do any of us forgive when the hurt comes from some form of the church?
One of the greatest lessons we must learn is that God loves each of us the same! This understanding can be difficult within itself, but while we argue with our neighbor, God continues to look at both of us and loves both of us the same.
In our families there can be favorites, but for God, each of us are seen as God's favorite. I don't mean to burst anyone's righteous bubble, but God's grace and mercy follows each of us!
So back to the thought, "How DO WE forgive someone when that someone happens to be THE CHURCH?"
The Church is the living body of Christ. When we are harmed by the body, then it keeps us at a distance from Christ. I have met many folks who claim to dislike or not trust religion, but claim to be Christian. In these situations not only does the person miss out on community, but also Christ.
This challenge is especially great because the Church seldom asks us for forgiveness, at least not officially. But the Church as an often fallible human organization needs our forgiveness, while the Church as the living Christ among us continues to offer us forgiveness.
I have learned to look at the church in this way, "The Church is often made up of people who at the heart, are often struggling with their own weaknesses and brokenness, who also are seeking forgiveness from a God who lives each and every one just the same."
Don't ever believe that any of you dont belong. The truth is that God sent Christ so that ALL may have everlasting life. Not the "Frozen Chosen" or whatever names may be used. YOU have the same inheritance as that child. Live knowing that forgiveness exists, and you are loved.
Oh, and be ready, there are going to be some jaw dropping moments in heaven!
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2017
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.