It wouldn’t be an easy thing to do; to be “naked before God in community” if we’ve been hurt by church in some way. Sadly, such damage is more common then many would like to think about.
An unpleasant scene, an unkind remark, a slight, an insulting comment, an affair, a come-on… even worse, a child abuse memory. Of course, there are many more possibilities, any one of which may make such openness almost impossible for some of us. Take heart however, with God, all things are possible.
To be fair, any time you bring a group of people together, there will be mistakes made including ill-tempered comments, gaffes, misunderstandings and so on, including jokes that miss the mark. The larger the group, the more likely that there will be someone who is just a really nasty person who is simply miserable to be around, but in cases like that, we need to keep in mind that these people need Jesus too; maybe more than most.
I’ve seen quite a lot in my years of church leadership, some it if has been simply amazing, while there has also been situations that required the leadership to step in and remove a person from the situation to protect the flock from harm. Believe me when I tell you that such occasions were not fun. Yes, I’ve also seen some times when the unkind remarks were made by people in leadership who should really know better.
Yeah, I’ve seen quite a bit.
Yet by far and away, these unpleasant episodes were the exception, not the rule. Overwhelmingly, people I have met in church are wonderful people who do their best to follow Christ, often in very tough circumstances. Yes, we all make our share of mistakes, but when we do, we correct them as quickly as possible and try very hard to learn from them.
Not too long ago, I ran a series here on Forgiveness, perhaps you remember it. When the disciples asked Him how many times they should forgive their brother… seven times? Jesus told then that no, they should forgive their brother seven times seventy times… as many times as it takes is how I read that one. The reason for this is that if we do not forgive those who hurt us, even those who hurt us badly, then we have to carry the weight of that hurt around with us, and it will interfere with all of our relationships with others as well as our relationship with God; it just isn’t worth it.
I’ve said several times now, that the whole idea of naked before God isn’t so much a state of being as it is a state of our relationship with God, and that state of relationship will never be entirely “naked” if we are harboring a lot of pain and anger from unforgiveness.
Just imagine that heavy load being taken off of you!
I fully understand that it won’t always be easy to trust “church” after being hurt in church but consider this: You don’t really need to trust “church”, you only need to trust God. Consequently, as in every other eventuality, it is our relationship with God that require our highest priority. At a certain point in that relationship, everything else will be taken care of… and you can take that to the bank.