To live above with the saints we love, that will be glory!
To live below with the saints we know, well,
that's a different story!!!
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 the results of your new understanding of being and doing church will include open discussion. With their new freedom, somebody may say or do something that is unwise or hurtful. This then may result in you being hurt, offended, disappointed, disillusioned or whatever. And, 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 Greek word "offence" is skandalon and that's where we get our English word scandal or scandalized.
A skandalon was 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 Genesis 4 we have Cain as a prime example of this. He became angry, a murderer, a wanderer, he ignored God's warning, lost his inheritance, and the presence of God and suffered from paranoia. Also Michal, King David's wife, the prodigal son's elder brother, both suffered a tragic lost intimacy. Others in Scripture, church history and today 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, critical of the House Church movement. 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 in your heart will infect you with spiritual poison. Many years ago I knew of two pastors who were both offended with the "Cain syndrome". One of these men possessed a notebook (or did the notebook possessed him!) and in it he had written every instance of being hurt by his colleague. He vowed never to forgive until he had an apology for each of these hurts that had offended him. God's word to him, "Burn the book!" Thankfully he did and was healed and set free. You may be carrying a "notebook" in your head. You can't burn it, but you need the Holy Spirit to excise it from your mind. Your heartfelt repentance and complete forgiveness will enable this miracle to take place.
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 where the grave diggers pour concrete on the grave directly after the burial. We need to do the same! And do a thorough job because the temptation to dig up those pains, abuses, misunderstandings and offences 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.