Monday, November 9, 2015

Protecting Yourself from Church Hurt

I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” – Ephesians 4:1-3

Church conflicts are satan’s favorite weapon.  They break down the body of Christ into clicks.  They split churches.  They cause pastors to leave.  They create animosity within the body to where it cannot function to its full potential. They cause devoted members to just quit going to church. 
Church conflicts are going to happen as long as churches are made of people.  We all have opinions, and we all think ours are right and everyone else’s are wrong.  We all want to get our way.  We all want our ego’s stroked from time to time, and we all go through times that we’re so unhappy with ourselves that we become easy game for satan to sow seeds of discord.  He may send those to your church to begin it with little talks behind people’s backs, little nasty attitudes, and discouraging words.  He knows all too well how to get the job done.  Many of you reading this are in, or have been in, such a situation with a family of church friends.

But God did not leave us helpless when it comes to church conflicts.  He provides instruction for our response to church hurts.  In Ephesians 4:1-3 he tells us how to keep the bond of unity and peace.
First, he tells us to “walk worthy of the calling with which you were called”.  If you get out of the will of God, you’re asking for trouble.  Oh how satan loves to find you doing something you’re ashamed of!  Oh how he loves to poke and prod at that favorite sin until it takes over!  Keep yourself close to God by staying in His word, with His people, and away from the evils that tempt you.  When you abide in Christ, you have an umbrella of protection (Psalms 91).

Secondly, he tells us to live in “lowliness and gentleness”.  Don’t get an ego!  When we start feeling like we are somebody then we open ourselves up to letting our pride get hurt.  Trample your own pride so that satan doesn’t get a chance to.  Do those things that you think are ‘beneath’ you.  Be the servant – love the master.  Be gentle in your words to others as well.  Remember that everyone has the capability of getting their feelings hurt.  Don’t let satan use you to do that job.  Let your words be few, and let them be harmless as doves, wise as serpents (Matthew 10:16).
Lastly, we’re told to be “longsuffering, bearing with one another in love”.  Be “longsuffering”, meaning don’t wear your feelings on your sleeve.  You WILL get your feelings hurt eventually, regardless of what you do.  Learn to be forgiving – immediately.  Guard your words about the matter because they only further sow discord.  If you can’t get over it in silence, then quietly talk to the person who offended you about it.  If they will not ask for forgiveness, forgive them anyway.  You need forgiveness in order for God to hear your prayers (Matthew 6:14-15, Colossians 3:13). 

Find something to love about even the most unlovable.  You can find it if you try.   1 Peter 4:8 says “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.”  When you love someone, truly love from your heart and not your head, you will forgive the things they do that offend you.  1 Corinthians 13:7 says that “love bears ALL THINGS”.  It’s a safe zone we give to others in the body of Christ, and a zone we are offered by those that love us in return.  Even with the best intentions in the world, and a heart of gold, you are going to eventually screw up!  You need the safe zone of Christian love.  Nurture it, grow it, offer it to those you fellowship with.  Otherwise, it won’t be there for you when you need it.
You get to pick what offends you and what you will forgive.  It is a choice to be offended.  Choose wisely.  Choose what God would have you to feel.  And when you struggle with it, read Matthew 18:21-35.

You may think this sounds like you have to be a doormat for others.  Yes, you sometimes do.  BUT IT’S WORTH IT!  When the bond of love and peace surrounds you in your Christian fellowship, the Holy Spirit is present.  In His presence, you’ll enjoy the love and peace, and be easy to dismiss any distractions of hatred and strife that satan wants to offer you.

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