This Meme angers me every time I see it. For me it makes it worse because it is christians who post it. This week I found it on the facebook page of an elder and a ministers wife. As of today it has been shared from the original site 39000 times. I am stunned.
At first reading it sounds possibly a correct assessment. If you got hurt by “the church” or by those who go to churches…and you lost your faith in God, then perhaps you had faith in the wrong thing. But how do I know that and who am I to judge?
In my younger days I was a part of a movement that turned out to be more of a cult. They were legalistic and demanding…even controlling. At first this movement brought lots of people into the church. The message was good but the implementation was bad. As time went along many people became disillusioned, hurt and left. Some left the church and some left the faith. I do not believe their initial faith was in men. I can think of a specific young lady that was brought into the fold. She was as excited about reading the bible and learning more about Jesus and God as anyone I have ever met. There was nothing in her response for me to ever doubt that she fell in love with Jesus and wanted to follow Him. But the practices of this group left her with a different vision of the Jesus she found in scripture and she was hurt and abused by the group. She left the church and her faith. I ran into her about ten years later and the hurt was still real and she had no desire to pursue God. She still crosses my mind and I can only hope that in the ensuing years God found her again. She was just one of many that struggled with faith after becoming disillusioned with the people who she thought knew more about walking the path than she did.
By way of disclaimer I will state that I have been hurt by “the church”…too many times. I come from an abusive family but the hurt I have experienced from those who claim Jesus is far worse than any I knew growing up. I never lost my faith in God but I did at times have to fight my way through a crisis of faith. I was blessed to have Godly people who stood by me, stuck with me when I seemed to be going off track and who loved me back to higher ground when I had been so wounded by “the church”. But the sorrow and anger I feel when I see this is not for me. My relationship with my God is solid. But for all those who have been hurt, whether young christians like my friend, or those just weak in their faith…or those whom satan managed to entangle, my heart breaks. This meme marginalizes those people, it blames the vicitim. It reopens wounds.
I understand that sometimes there have been trivial issues that people allowed to pull them away from church…or their faith. That should not be. We should all be focused on God and never allow anyone or anything to pull us from that focus. But the reality remains that “the church”, that christians have hurt people. And too often it has not been small misunderstandings. The pain is real and the damage is huge.
I am not a scholar but I do know that God calls us to love…all. He tells us not to cause others to stumble…more importantly He calls us to humility. If the actions of this thing we call “the church” has caused pain, enough pain to at least some people to cause them to doubt our God, should we not be concerned, humbled, gentle, repentant and do whatever we can to lead them to a purer faith in God?
This meme comes over as arrogant and mean..or that is my opinion of it. With almost 40000 people posting it on facebook it helps me to understand why we are unable to reach the world with the message that Jesus is love. We are all broken and if we have not been part of hurting someone we probably will be. That should humble us. We should never put our faith in people and we should never let anyone change our relationship with God but this “in your face” message does nothing to help reach those who might have lost faith or never had it. If they are lost, separated from their God and we are truly part of “THE church”, then our mission should be to find them and bring them into the fold. This meme does nothing to accomplish that mission.
Even if this message is true, is it necessary? And if it continues the pain that any person out there felt because of being hurt by “the church”, is it worth being right?