Why do so many people leave the church? A HUGE part of recovery involves a spiritual part. Those reading this from a recovery background know what I’m talking about. You go to the rooms and hear about a higher power and figuring out who or what that is for you. And so you start surrendering your will over to something bigger than you and even beyond your understanding.
Think with me a little deeper… How many of your recovery stories involve some sort of hurt around religious experiences? What about those out there who wouldn’t necessarily identify with the “recovery” community… there are a ton of others who also carry religious baggage from the past.
Here’s my question… for EVERYone, why do so many people leave the church? Let me give one side to this issue. So many of us get hurt from some sort of person or people doing or saying something that gets us ruffled up in some sort of way. BUT here’s the thing, MUCH of the time there are things that happen that are just plain WRONG.
Maybe you’ve heard a saying something like this, “broken people hurt people whereas healing people heal people.” So much that happens in the name of church or Christianity ends up breaking and hurting more people instead of healing. Sometimes legit crap happens and sometimes we as fellow people just rub each other wrong. In BOTH scenarios though, we have the power to change the tide and respond well.
It’s this response that is the focus of these thoughts. This response is a big reason so many people give up and walk away from church or Christianity all together. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We can change and bring redemption to this ideal that wasn’t even our idea in the first place. We didn’t come up with church or Christianity—Jesus did. Now this isn’t some post pretending to fix all our religious issues in an over simplified few paragraphs, but it is aimed to get us thinking deeper.
I’ve been hurt by the church greatly in my past. So many stories I could share about asinine stances on issues that don’t matter squat at the end of the day. I have so many stories of judging one another and then treating those people differently in the name of some truth crusade. Sound exaggerated? Not one bit. This doesn’t even get into the actual manipulation and physical/sexual abuse that some sadly experience in religious circles.
(Clarification for areas of physical and sexual abuse, religious groups have been tragically quiet rather than protecting those victimized. If this has happened to you, please reach out for help wherever you live. What happened to you is not ok and it's ok and even necessary to admit you're not ok and need help.)
So here’s the deal. We can be real class-act jerks toward one another—especially under the “covering” of religion. But here’s also the deal. Jesus died for those class-act jerks, those hypocrites, those judgmental people. He died for me because I’m one of them more times than I'd like to admit. I’m not so gullible and oblivious to admit that I’ve been judgmental toward others and excuse it in my mind as me being “triggered” from my past. I see someone that reminds me of my past and I immediately label them in my mind as hypocritical or as a fake religious manipulator. I’m so thankful I have an awesome wife and friends around me who aren’t afraid to call me out on my own bull even when I react in the middle of it. Here’s the thing— I don’t know what’s in that person’s heart I’m judging.
The real Jesus of the Bible called us to Love God and then love others period. Dang friends, we (I) have GOT to recover this tragically lost religious trait. We are made and redeemed to LOVE our fellow humans. So join me in recovering this “pre-historic” calling of returning love to religion, to church, to Christianity. Stop being that class-act pious jerk because Jesus loved and died for them too and chances are you and I are one of them more than we know.
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