Hurt by the church

As I’ve made my rounds in life, I’ve run into some hurting people. None with festering wounds quite like those hurt by their church. The circumstances vary, but when they needed it most, the ministry of God’s grace in its various forms was withheld from them by their church. They were disfellowshiped, shunned, made to humiliate themselves publicly, denied sacred rites, or given an irrelevant penance to perform. These are high hurdles for the weakest people to clear in order to satisfy the true believers.

A woman caught in adultery was almost killed by her church. The rules said that such a grievous sin was punishable by death and the fatal pummeling could be a group activity. That group taunted the bowed-low Jesus: “What do you say, rabbi, you want in on this?” Then Mercy stood up. With God’s authority Jesus said, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (John 8:7). No one hung around to take him up on the offer. Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you . . . go now and leave your life of sin” (verse 11). She did and never stopped following him.

 It is amazing that I have met most of these people in a church, not the church that hurt them but one that helped them heal because the love of Jesus predominates everything there. This is praiseworthy evidence that God’s grace, in its various forms, will trump anyone’s foolish mistakes, bind up a broken heart, heal all wounds, and redirect a wayward soul.

Jason had a career as a teacher, counselor, and leader. He has written and spoken extensively on a variety of topics related to the Christian life. He has been a contributing writer for Time of Grace since 2010. He has authored Grace Moments devotions and Straight Talk Books including, Help Me, Jesus; One Day Full of Grace; and When in Doubt. Jason lives with his wife, Nancy, in Wisconsin.

 

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