As Christians, we’re called to love each other and be a blessing in the life of the church, and a quick look at the one-another’s in Scripture gives us a good sense of how we’re called to live in the fellowship of the body of Christ. Paul wrote to the Thessalonian church,
“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.” (1 Thessalonians 5:11-13 ESV)
If you’ve been hurt in the context of church, please know, I don’t want to minimize pain, but I want to encourage you that God is faithful, even when his people fail each other. We know from Scripture that Jesus loves his bride and the Holy Spirit works in the hearts of his people.
So friend, take your hurt and pain to the cross of Jesus Christ. Give it all to Him and trust that even in this, He is at work in you and in your fellow believers.
Seek counsel from a godly Christian pastor or another wise, mature believer who will help you to look at your situation from a Biblical perspective and who will encourage you to be freed from bitterness.
Know that as you forgive and find healing, you are part of building up Jesus’ body. Yes, there is hurt and pain in churches – because churches are made up of people in need of forgiveness.
But there are truly thousands of healthy, faithful churches around the world where pastors seek to obey the Scriptures, preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in truth, and shepherd their flocks faithfully. I pray that you’re part of a church like that, where you can be taught and shepherded by a pastor, being discipled and trained to make disciples for Christ Jesus.
Being part of the Church means actively learning to extend grace upstream and downstream – to the people we think should receive it and to the ones who we don’t feel deserve Christ’s mercy and forgiveness. This doesn’t mean that the sin is okay, or that the hurt magically disappears. But we walk this out because forgiven people are forgiving people, and we hold out an open hand to God as we trust him to care for us, to heal our hurt, and to work in the heart of the person who wronged us.
Even in the best, healthiest church situation, we ought to take time to pray for our pastors and for the people we are in fellowship with, asking God to show us how we can encourage them and build them up.
“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 ESV)