At one point in my Christian life I became pessimistic. The pastor of every church I had attended corrupted and destroyed his ministry. Some of them destroyed the church God entrusted to their care. When church number five failed, my son snickered and announced, “Mom, you are a church curse!” Nothing like words of encouragement from the fruit of my womb to brighten my day.
I seriously doubt that I am a walking curse greater than the kingdom of God. However, I have participated in more than one prayer meeting intended to bolster the church against attacks of the evil one. No one thought it necessary to bolster ourselves against God’s judgment upon sinning ministers. Yes, I finally learned that judgment begins at the house of God and when we pray for intervention, God cleans his house first. Apparently, the houses I’ve been in were so filthy nothing could be preserved.
God graciously gave me a period of rest. A kindly shepherd faithfully tended our little flock for seven years. Little did I know, how much I needed that rest to survive the ten-year desert that followed the kind shepherd’s resignation? After the shock of losing our pastor subsided, the church searched high and low for an adequate replacement.
Deacons, who failed Discernment 101, assured us our handsome new pastor would be good for the church. I saw him for the first time late one Friday night. We had just returned from a church function and were waiting for parents to pick up their offspring. That wolf prowled right past the excited people in the foyer, sniffed the empty sanctuary with delight, prayed, marked his spot on the pulpit and trotted out the door without acknowledging his flock. I failed Discernment 101 as well. When a deacon asked my opinion of the new pastor, I said he was a good choice because he prayed.
If the prophet Jeremiah had appeared in the foyer of the church and cried out, “My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains. They wandered over mountain and hill and forgot their own resting place. Whoever found them devoured them…” (Jeremiah 50:6-7NIV), he would have predicted my future. That praying wolf in sheep’s clothes scattered us to other churches only to be devoured again.
I finally learned to trust the good shepherd seated at God’s right hand and pray for the mortal shepherds. As for the church . . . what can I say? I can’t live with it. . . I can’t live without it. I have been deeply hurt by the church, but I’ve also found emotional healing through my husband and faithful friends in the church.
Abandoning the church, but not my love for Christ, has crossed my mind more than one time. After all, I can read my Bible and pray at home. If it wasn’t for that annoying scripture…something about “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is . . .” (Hebrews 10:25). And that other one, you know, the one that says it was Jesus custom to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath Day (Luke 4:16). If Jesus could endure the corrupt church of his day, should I turn tail and run or should I imitate him?