How to Choose Jesus (and a Church community) After Betrayal
Are you loving Jesus and growing closer to Him as you walk? Or have you fallen away?
I'm happy to welcome Lori Schumaker, who writes at Searching for Moments, to share with you today as part of the Summer Sizzle Blog Hop. Lori is a precious and dear friend who has what seems to be an endless supply of compassion. She loves people and she loves pointing them to Jesus. I believe her words will be as much a blessing to you as they were to me.
The warmth inside suddenly felt cold. The peace that fell upon your shoulders each time you walked through the doors, now resembled anxiety. Your heart heavy. Your joy no longer there.
You had served with passion and felt excited as you contributed to the ministry within your church. It was your happy place. Your safe place.
But someone within the church had changed that. Someone you trusted had betrayed you.
Now trust was no longer within you nor was your desire to serve and be a part of the community.
So you left. You said, “Enough of the Church. I don’t need it to love Jesus.”
But as I look into your eyes, I’m pressed to ask you a question. “Are you loving Jesus and growing closer to Him as you walk? Or have you fallen away?”
Because, my friends, it’s not about the Church building at all. Rather, it's all about the Jesus you follow after as you lean in to worship Him.
So, I say to you
@@Just choose Jesus.@@
I recently read a statistic that said there are 22 million people in the United States who claim their faith matters significantly, but yet have walked away from the Church because of a hurt encountered there.
We have too many wounded believers limping through life not experiencing the full transformation available in the Name of Jesus! And the sad fact is that they are limping from the wounds inflicted upon them from within the walls of the Church. The very Church that is meant to spread the light and love of Jesus to the world, to equip believers as disciples, and to be a safe place, a sanctuary for the broken-hearted and weary.
It’s a sad statistic, but friends, it makes all the sense in the world to me.
We are the walking wounded. Struck by the world in which we live. We are seeking safety and because we know that in the arms of Jesus, we find safety, we assume the Church and the arms of Jesus are the same. When betrayal happens in the Church, we are caught off guard and disillusioned. We ask ourselves, “How could it happen here?”
But where else would the enemy love more to strike? The Church has the potential to do great things for God and for His children. Therefore it is the enemy’s prime target. He wants nothing more than to drive a spear through the heart of the church, divide it, and watch it fall.
And let’s look at what Jesus says. He doesn’t say once you are saved you will never sin again. We are all sinners, whether saved or not. We will still slip up and fall short. That is why we need Him
Every. Single. Day.
But if we are all still sinners falling short, we must realize that the Church is still filled with sinners, too. If there was betrayal within the select group of 12 that Jesus chose as His disciples, how can there not be betrayal within our churches today?
Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests and asked, “How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?” And they gave him thirty pieces of silver. From that time on, Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus. Matthew 26: 14-16 NLT
If we search, we will find treasures. Among those who allow selfishness to lead their lives, we will find the ones living a life lead by the Holy Spirit. A life fueled by love and sacrifice.
When we are estranged from the church, we miss out on those people. The ones getting it right. We miss out on the ones who will reach out, sacrifice, and love us. The ones who will reach across, hold our hand, and pray on our behalf. The ones who will come alongside us in our darkest moments to lend a physical or spiritual hand.
And we will miss out on opportunities to just choose Jesus.
Those people getting it right are the ones Jesus will use to sharpen, grow, and love us. Among them will be the unique opportunities to build our relationship with Him.
Growing in relationship with anyone means getting to know them well. I think of my mom and dad who have been married for 62 years. Their relationship takes my breath away. The way they love each other. Understand each other. Know each other's very thoughts. It didn't happen right away, though. With every year they grow closer and love more. It took time, talking together, experiencing the ups and downs of life together, arguing and laughing.
That's how we choose Jesus. We have to stay in close communion with Him. Learning about Him through our own experiences and through the experiences of others. When we know Him through reading His word and then see His redeeming love in action, we grow in relationship.
I love my church. It provides a place to find those people getting it right and it gives me the opportunities to see my good Father in action. It keeps me from getting lazy with my faith and pushes me to know Jesus more each day. Even in churches where I was hurt, I still carry deep relationships with some of those people who were getting it right.
It's as though God seals those friendships born out of pure hearts and a thirst for Him.
Your choosing Jesus may look different from mine. It may be a large building, a small building, or an area without walls. It may be thousands, hundreds, or a handful of believers. That doesn't matter.
But what does matter is choosing Jesus.
In your current setting, are you growing closer to Him? Are you walking a life that reflects His love? His glory? His righteousness? Are you following where He is leading? If not, this whole thing of Church is pointless and I pray you will make changes and choose Jesus.
I know your journey is exactly that – your journey. If your hurt is so big it caused you to walk away from the Church, my heart grieves with you. I am so sorry for that travesty. I wish I could reach through these words on your screen and give you a hug. And I know Jesus weeps with you. Your hurt grieves Him and the betrayal enrages Him. I know that His desire was and is for a church that lifts up, loves, encourages, empowers, teaches and disciples others to become the best Jesus follower they can be.
But I can encourage you only by saying, don’t give up hope. @@God has a community of believers for you.@@ When you choose Jesus, He will open and close the doors guiding you to where He calls you. As you search for that place where you can choose Jesus, I believe there are some truths to keep in mind that will help the process of engaging in a Church community. I've come up with 7 of them, but I would love for you to share others you have found helpful!
Thank You for creating the Church. You wired us for community and knew that we would need fellow believers to cheer us along life's road and help us stay true to Your path. You are the head of the Church and Your desire is that it be a place to worship You and serve others in love. But our sin messes all that up.
Within our churches are those who come fueled with envy and rivalry. They are members of leadership and of the body. Lord, I ask You to protect our leaders from the attacks of the enemy. I know full well that he would love nothing more than to stop them from increasing Your Name and bringing forth new believers. He would love to see their character slashed and their motives destroyed. But I pray for Your hedge of protection around our leader, Pastors, and their families. I also pray for a spirit of discernment within our leadership as they hire new staff and as they raise up new servant ministers. Let their spirits be sensitive to divisive or corrupt spirits that have come with wrong motives.
Protect the humble of spirit. Protect those who want nothing more than to serve and love You with their heart, soul, and mind. For those who have been hurt, I ask for their healing right now and that, in the Name of Jesus, they be freed from the chains of betrayal. That the enemy does not win by keeping them out of the church and out of community. Above all, I ask that You impress upon our hearts and minds that our focus be choosing You. I thank You for Your grace, Your hope, and Your redemption. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen
Lori is an encourager at heart. She has spent her life learning of the hope and victory available when we embrace our identity in Christ. Today, when she isn’t busy being a wife and Mom to her three children, she teaches, ministers, coaches, speaks, and writes to share that hope with others. Wherever you find yourself today - walking through the difficult, needing to get unstuck to follow your purpose, or simply experiencing a season of beautiful chaos, Lori’s blog found at www.lorischumaker.com is a place where you can get a virtual hug from someone who truly understands. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest