The church is the blood bought body of Christ. And much of the church, God’s own people, don’t seem to care about those of us within the church whose lives don’t fit the narrative. We talk–and talk–about how the Gospel is the Good News that brings salvation to many, that some of us were once among the worst of mankind, that a new life–through Christ–changes everything. We talk about it but let someone not fit with our narrative and we simply don’t know what to do with them. I don’t say this lightly–I love the church–but the truth is–the TRUTH is–that we kill our own, especially when our own have been wounded either by their own former life decisions or are being or have been wounded by someone else’s.
For example, consider how the body of Christ responds to those of us who are living with an abusive spouse.
Just to make myself clear, the mission of the church is to teach the Gospel, to minister to Christians and to strengthen them in the truth of the Word. Not a fancy way of saying it but effective, I think. Our focus is never to be on anyone outside of Christ. But we cannot focus on Christ while refusing to obey His commandments–and He commanded us to Love the Lord with all of our hearts, souls, strength and minds and our neighbors as ourselves. While we mustn’t ever give anyone the idea that their suffering, no matter how great or unjustified, will save them, we also mustn’t ever make anyone believe–especially a child of God–that their suffering doesn’t matter to the Almighty. Jesus–who was abused, castigated, lied about, beaten, maligned, humiliated, ignored, and shamed–cares about the sufferings of His own. He’s been there. He’s been the victim. He knows pain, shame, humiliation, in a way that none of us–no matter how great our suffering–will ever know. He, after all, was the sinless Son of God, who had done nothing wrong, who in no way deserved His sufferings. We, no matter how unjustified the attacks against us, no matter how great our pain or our shame, can never claim that we are sinless. We might not deserve what was done to us but we are nonetheless guilty of sin.
So what’s the “new way” of ministering to the abused? By getting into the Word of God and teaching it as it is written, as God meant for us to understand it. For far too long, we’ve bought into “new ways” of understanding the Bible, new ideas for teaching truth, new…whatevers. It’s failing. And we’re failing to obey Christ and to love the Lord with all of ourselves and our neighbors as ourselves because of it. We in the church are great at arguing, at finding the one thing we disagree on and focusing on that to the detriment of the truth of God’s Word. If we get our minds off of our pet beliefs, off of our societal issues, off of controversies (fighting for or against), and let the Scriptures have the final say in all of that as in everything else, if we read God’s Word with a heart that is set on believing and obeying, we can transform not only the ministry to the abused but to every single one of us.
We need pastors and elders with a heart for Christ, who believe He is who He said He is and who will live and die teaching the TRUTH of Scripture without ever becoming legalistic or given to liberty that Scripture doesn’t intend for us to have. We need a body of Christ who will listen, believe and obey, and pray (and pray and pray so that our will becomes aligned with God’s) and then rise up to live a life of obedience and service–starting with loving other Christians–including those whose lives don’t fit the narrative. How do we get that? Simply by reading the Bible and believing the Bible and teaching our own families and our own churches to do the same. Then–and only then–will we have a ministry of any kind that is worth having.