Friday, January 23, 2015

In Sweet Fellowship



Psalm 55:12-14
If an enemy were insulting me,
I could endure it;
if a foe were rising against me,
I could hide.
But it is you, a man like myself,
my companion, my close friend,
with who I once enjoyed sweet fellowship
at the house of God,
as we walked about
among the worshipers.

It is not something we, as Christians, wish to discuss and are loathe to reveal lest we discourage others from attending church, but it is a reality.  A reality which recently descends upon my husband, Danny, and me in a most unexpected, unprecedented and hurtful way; one that completely blindsides us and leaves us reeling.  When those we held closest as we walked with them among the worshipers turn against us with fangs bared, we wonder, what has happened to sweet fellowship?

In the years I've been a member of Facebook, I've witnessed too many friends who have been discouraged and disheartened by the way they have been treated in their churches.  At the least, some have left their house of worship in search of a more embracing congregation.  At the worst, some have thrown Christianity aside altogether, seeking blindly now for a faith outside of The Way.  Lost and broken, they struggle and strive to find in the unfamiliar a hint of the love they once hoped to know through Christ.

When he asks people he meets why they don't attend church, this is what Pastor Wallace hears most often:  "They're all hypocrites!  Who, in their right mind, would want to be part of that?"

Wallace's answer?  "Yes, we are all hypocrites.  We are all sinners.  That's why they and you and I need to be there."

That's why they and you and I need to be there . . .

We are fragile.  We are fallen.  We are prone to forget the saving grace of Christ Jesus when we have been hurt or wronged.

We see through our eyes, not God's.  We long for our kingdom, not His.

We are all hypocrites, in desperate need of Christ's healing.  Christ's salvation.

It's all too easy to draw up "enemy lines" and endure the slings and arrows coming from our foes, but when those same slings and arrows are hurled at us by those we count as friends?  Trusted friends?  Those with the kiss of Judas on their lips?

What do we do?

Jesus has the answer.

Forgive.

Seventy times seventy times seven and more.

Forgive.

Then?  Forget!

And welcome everyone into His Kingdom by inviting them to join you in sweet fellowship at your house of worship.  Show the love of Christ to them.  When you do that, those who feel forsaken or hurt or lost will know they have found a safe haven in your church and in your heart.

~

Have you been hurt by a church experience?  How did you react?  How did you deal with your disappointment?

Prayer:  Father, we, as Your children, are supposed to be loving and forgiving, even when it hurts and our hearts are breaking.  Help us to remember that Your precious Son, Jesus, gave the ultimate sacrifice that we might learn to forgive and forget in Christian love, sweet fellowship, no matter what the circumstances.  May our churches be places of warmth, welcome and acceptance for the lost and the seeking.  In Jesus' name, we pray.  Amen.


10 comments:

  1. I have had my own experiences of feeling let down not by God but by people who called themselves the People of God but as you said I choose to let it all go, for like Jesus said they know not what they are doing. For me HE matters and nothing else. <3

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    Replies
    1. Amen, Privy! They know not what they do, and God should be the first and foremost focus of our lives.
      Love and blessings!

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  2. I think our lessons in church and in life bring us closer to Jesus, Martha. It's exactly these experiences that cultivate our forgiveness, prayer and love. I'm convinced God grants us problems so we can find Him and be closer to him, similar to how he grants us "friends" and fellow congregants who tend to irritate us so we reach out to Him more. When we think we have it together and are divine beings, God reminds us we still have work to do. Our enemies might just be our greatest spiritual friends.

    Makes me think of a joke a pastor told us recently. If you're thinking of getting closer to God, get married!! Nothing will bring you closer (to God) than a relationship lol

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    1. "Our enemies might just be our greatest spiritual friends." Wow, Vishnu, I love this insight of yours! Certainly puts things in a new (and better) perspective. I'm reminded of Jesus telling his followers that they would be misunderstood, reviled, and even persecuted for His sake. As long as Jesus is leading, no matter what, we need to follow.
      Oh, and I love that joke!
      Love and blessings, my friend!

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  3. Martha, your post is meaningful in so many ways. Life in the church is important for our spiritual growth but can also be so very painful emotionally and even spiritually. Some times we do need to stay, other times we need to leave in order to find a healthier church to learn and grow in.

    I've found that keeping correctly focused--focused on Jesus rather than frail humans is key in enduring life in the church. The Lord can use the not so great times to teach us and bring about spiritual growth within us.

    Love and blessings!

    Kim

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    Replies
    1. Oh, yes, Kim, God can certainly use those less than great times to open up our eyes and hearts to how He is working in us. And the entire measure of our church experience is our focus, as you stated, on "Jesus rather than frail humans." With Him, we can get through and overcome any and all obstacles.
      Love and blessings!

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  4. wow powerful post, Martha. Yes we sure are all broken. Yes church has hurt me, Heard a few months back to always remember everyone we meet longs for something. loves something and has lost something. Guess I am learning compassion BUT the forgiveness and forgetting does take time and lots of God's strength. man, you have been thinking today. LOL

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    Replies
    1. I love this expression you shared here, Jean: ". . .always remember everyone we meet longs for something, loves something and has lost something." That is, indeed, a humbling thought, one we need to remember whenever we deal with others. I believe these words place a compassionate focus on others while taking our eyes off of ourselves.
      Love and blessings!

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  5. I'm sorry you and Danny had to endure some unpleasantness, Martha. But as always you turn the experience around to ask a powerful question. People do let us down and sometimes the insitution of the Church does too. I think the question for me is how I move forward from it all. There have been times I've given into whinging but now I'm learning to let go and move forward knowing that His Grace is sufficient for me.

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    1. I think your question about how one moves forward from it all is a major one for most people who find themselves in this type of situation. That's precisely when we need to lean on God's grace and guidance, trusting He will heal the hurt and disappointment in His time.
      Love and blessings!

      Delete

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