Monday, May 27, 2013



This letter is written for everybody who has ever been hurt in a church situation. If you haven't, believe me you will! These hurts happen in traditional, charismatic, house and every type of church. But I'm writing especially to those of you who have embraced some style of Simple Church. Among experiences resulting from your new understanding of being and doing church may include being hurt, disappointed, disillusioned, judged, even ostracised or whatever. If we allow it, these religious hurts can cause us to become deeply offended. Jesus said that "offences will come..." (Luke 17:1). They're part of the territory!

The skandalon. The Greek word "offences" is skandalon and that's where we get our English word scandal or scandalized. Skandalon was used for a camouflaged trap that ancient hunters placed in the forest to trap unwary animals. Beware of Satan's trap -- he wants you to be scandalized, to hold a grudge that can grow into a root of bitterness, that will, among other things, destroy the intimacy of your walk with God. This is true for individuals as well as church groups. In the Bible we have Cain as a prime example of this. Also Michal, King David's wife, the prodigal son's elder brother, both suffered a tragic lost intimacy. Also others in Scripture whose lives are sad portrayals of offended people.

 What should be our response to the person(s) or system that caused us pain?

 Don't judge these people. If you have been dealt harshly because of the new light you have received, remember that you were probably once blind to what you now see. My wife Averil and I were for most of our lives and were critical of House Churches. The Holy Spirit has had to remind me of my past judgmental attitude when I have been tempted to judge others.

 Don't nurse your hurt. Holding unforgiveness and pain to your heart will infect you with the 'Cain syndrome', Genesis 4. Notice his anger and dejection, v.5; murder, vs..8. (We wouldn't murder but what about 'character assassination?). Cain's arrogance, v.9; poverty, and becoming a wanderer, v.12; a stranger to God's presence, suffering from paranoia, vv 14, 16.

 Don't rehearse your hurts. Some years ago I attended a house church where the stories of the members' hurts, pain, abuse always seemed to surface. The result was a fruitless group that didn't survive.

 Forget the past and focus on the future. We cannot embrace the future when we are clinging to the past. The rock climber lost his grip and was clinging to a small tree hundreds of feet above the ground. When calling for help he was relieved to hear a voice telling him there was somebody above him at the top of the hill. "Who's there?" he screamed. "It's Jesus" was the reply. "Will you help me?" the climber called." "Of course" replied Jesus, "but first you must let go of the tree." Silence. Then from the climber, "Is anyone else up there?"

Bury those hurts and concrete over the grave. In order to foil grave-robbers, there is a culture I read of where they pour concrete on the grave at the time of burial. We need to do the same. And do a thorough job because the temptation to dig up those pains, abuses, misunderstandings etc will probably return.

 Talking about burial and resurrection, let's seriously follow some relevant advice from God's Word as translated by Eugene Peterson.....

 "So don't you see that we don't owe that old do-it-yourself life (religion) one red cent. There's nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God's Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! This resurrection life you received from God is not a timid, grave-tending life. It's adventurously expectant, greeting God with a child-like "What's next Papa?" God's Spirit touches our spirits and confirms who we really are. We know who he is, and we know who we are: Father and children. And we know we are going to get what's coming to us--an unbelievable inheritance...!" Romans 8:12-17b. The Message  WOW!!!

I look forward to your feedback.

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