When Church Hurts

By B.J. Funk –

It seems to be widespread. Pastors know the sting of criticism. Church members know the pain of being disappointed in the person sitting in the next pew. Worship leaders choose beautiful music only to hear the drumroll of gossip over the selection. Administrative assistants stop their work to put out a fire of pessimism circulating in the halls. Church staff know the overwhelming need to squelch loud cries of discord. We get so busy with the busyness of church that we can’t get around to the real business of church, which is Jesus Christ and his beautiful, marvelous antidote to a sinful world. Regularly and without warning, church becomes a bed of contention, disagreements, and pain.

We expected something different from sinners? The world outside of Church understands this dilemma better than we do. They don’t expect perfection from us. They always knew we weren’t. But they knew we thought we were. That’s why they stay out.

Church is not only a building but it is also the people who come to the building. Does anyone need to be reminded that the church is an imperfect institution? Imperfection sits on each pew, resides in each Sunday school class, and stands behind the pulpit. We still, however, expect perfection to somehow gloss over the human errors and flaws walking into the sanctuary on a Sunday morning. What we are on the sidewalk before entering church is what we are when we enter church. Nothing changes inside of us in the two minutes it takes us to enter the church and find a seat.

When we remember that Christ died for the church, we feel pale and weak, hopeless within the one institution that should give us hope.

We allow our disappointment in church people to define our commitment to church. What was solid belief often becomes feigned reality as we move further and further away from the church that hurts. Is there any hope for us? Will the church eventually die from the hypocrisy we show the world?

Unless we can connect in Sunday’s couple of hours with Jesus of Nazareth, we will walk out the very same way we walked in.  But if we can seek to know the Lord, new life will begin to seep through the deep pores of sin and make wonderful changes in us. We can be born again. It can happen anywhere Jesus is, even inside an imperfect church.

That’s what we hope for.  Sweet relief from the hopelessness of sin.  Amen.

You are sitting on your pew all hot and angry over the church that hurts when suddenly you hear a tiny child in front of the church singing in a beautiful, angelic voice, “This little light of mine. I’m gonna let it shine.” And for a moment you forget why you are tense. You were so busy with church drama that you had forgotten there was supposed to be a little light – a light of mine – shining in a dark and weary world. As you hum that song, the sound of worship sends a melodious tug into your soul and soon the heartbeat of worship has joined your heartbeat. Your repentant heart gets still as you remember why you came to church. Within the loud drumroll of discord, you had actually forgotten. But now you know.

You came to worship, to join your efforts with others in a glorious song of praise, a sound that knocks down any hurt you have felt as you rest your soul in the beauty of meaningful worship.

The people haven’t changed. Sinners still hold the majority. But you have changed. You remember why you used to like church, why you needed church, and you want to find that feeling again.

Others may hurl pain at you, but you decide to be bigger than that. You won’t hurl back. You will forgive. Finally you have found a bit of hope, an encouragement that bounces throughout your body like a new tennis ball.

The church will survive. God will never let it die. He will continue using repentant sinners to keep his church alive. But now you know what to do. You will bring out your little light to shine.

As long as there is just one little light shining – just one – there will always be a church.

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