What is happening in the “church” world today? My wife posted a simple post that read, “So much to say but I won’t..I’ll be the bigger person again..but people can be so hurtful and mean.” The comments that this sparked were truly eye-opening. Mostly from the standpoint of encouragement, but you can hear these encouragements are deeply seated in hurt caused to them. They were encouraging my wife out of their own pain they’ve endured, or perhaps still are enduring.
Looking back over the years of being in ministry, it wasn’t uncommon to have new believers lash out from time-to-time, but that is expected. They are new believers after all. After a while of living this lifestyle of faith, there has to come a time for these young believers to actually grow up and start walking in this wonderful thing called – compassion. Now this word isnt a word you hear about too often anymore. In fact, this world is more than just a word – it’s an actual verb, meaning it’s an action word. Compassion isn’t something you just have, but more importantly, its something that you do.
I’m not ignorant to the fact that my family or I may have hurt others in the past. However, I can say this; it wasn’t because of a direct result of my will to “hurt” others. Being a public speaker, minister, pastor or having a microphone in your hand opens you up to mixing words around from time to time. In those cases, yes people could be hurt because they may not know the heart of the one speaking. The other side of the coin is when you are speaking and someone hears what they want to hear then takes offense. These “hurts” are truly out of your control because you cannot control how someone hears what they hear. It is filtered through all of their past, their pains, their good, bad and ugly – then associates all of those feelings towards you. We rely on the other person to hear us correctly. And I’d like to add – that if I’ve ever said anything to anyone that has caused you any kind of hurt or pain – from the very bottom of my heart – I am truly sorry and please contact me!
It’s this last category that I’m concerned with what seems to be like venom coursing through the veins of the church body today. This malicious tongue lashing done to bring about emotional pain to a person on purpose. The cruel use of language from a wordsmith to inflict a wound on its prey intentionally. The book of Matthew says, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9, KJV) I’m going to go out on a limb here and ask the question then – if you are not a maker of peace, but rather of disagreement, hate, hatred, discord, agitation, disharmony, distress, fighting, frustration, upset, war or worry (all antonyms of peace) — then should you be called the child of the devil? Surely you cannot possibly believe that God has called you to act this way and still wave the banner of a “Christian.” What is even more amazing to me is that the majority, told to me, of the pain wounding them has come from a person in leadership (or those who claim to be leaders.)
Here’s a true example of something that was recently shared with me. A young couple had made some mistakes and ended up getting pregnant. It was told by the pastors that the child couldn’t be dedicated because “God cannot bless a child conceived in sin.” Did they commit a sin? Yes. Did they have a child out of wedlock? Yes. But finish the rest of the story! Did they ask for forgiveness? Yes! Did she turn her life around? Yes! Your theology is wrong man! Get back to the Book and read it! Sitting across, hearing this antichrist philosophy, with tear-filled eyes broke my heart. I looked straight across the table and right in the eyes and said, “on behalf of the church and those that call themselves pastors and leaders – I humbly apologize for their ignorance and damage they’ve caused you!” Tell me how those words wouldn’t hurt anyone of the thousands of young women in this world who have made some bad choices in life. Do you not think the embarrassment, struggle and self-esteem issues they might deal with for years to come are more than enough condemnation? Simply ask yourself, if that young girl would’ve gone to Jesus and said, “Jesus, I messed up here, but I’m asking you to bless my child’s life – I want to dedicate him to you, Jesus. I also am asking for your help as a single mother to guide me and protect both of us.” Can you honestly say pastor, that Jesus would look at her and give her the response you gave, “I can’t bless this child conceived in sin.” Man, thats not the Jesus I serve! Yes, He is just! Yes, He is judge! Yes, His Word is Truth and Law! BUT – He is also Savior, Forgiver, Healer, Justifier, Santifyer, Sacrifice, Love, Hope, Peace, Strong Tower, Buckler, Shield, Advocate, Giver of Life, Mercyful, Full of Grace, Lamb of God slain before the foundation of the World, Bread of Life, Spirit of Truth, Balm of Gilead, Fourth Man in the Fire – do I need to go one? Can I remind you of what He told the women at the well? He said, “Go and sin no more!” Not, “you low life scum of the earth! You should be ashamed of yourself! What’s wrong with you sleeping around with five men! You might as well kill yourself now because there’s no hope for you sinner! Enjoy your eternity in hell with all the others like your kind!” That not what He said at all! He spoke with kindness and compassion as one who saw a women’s life in jeopardy of being lost forever to the devil.
Somewhere along the way – the church has forgotten its role and the leadership its position. Are we not a hospital for hurting humanity? Is not our message not one of Hope for the Hopeless? Let me close this blog with these verses.
Jeremiah 23: 1-4, ” Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the Lord. Therefore thus saith the Lord God of Israel against the pastors that feed my people; Ye have scattered my flock, and driven them away, and have not visited them: behold, I will visit upon you the evil of your doings, saith the Lord. And I will gather the remnant of my flock out of all countries whither I have driven them and will bring them again to their folds, and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them: and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, neither shall they be lacking, saith the Lord.”
I have an invitation for you. You may be one of the millions hurt by those in the church. For that, I am truly sorry and can truly relate to you on more levels than I care to admit. Regardless of what anyone has told you – there is still hope, healing, and restoration available to you. How do I know this? Because you are still breathing! So, I want to invite you to Dominion Church. A church that Loves God with all our hearts! A church that is more interested in where you are going than where you have been. A church that believes you are a gift to the Body of Christ and that you matter to God Almighty! Trust me when I say that I know the last thing you may want to do is get involved with another “church,” I honestly get that – but my friend – we are not just another church. I, as Pastor of Dominion, refuse to be just “another church”. God doesn’t need just “another church”. Would you come out, and be my personal guest on May 12th, 2018 @ 6:30 pm and see for yourself. You are part of that remnant and God is reaching out to you one more time! Can you hear Him? I truly hope to see you May 12th…
Pastor Todd Oswald
Richmond High School, Auditorium
35320 Division Rd, Richmond, MI 48062