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Navigating Church Trauma With Kindness and Grace
As people living in a fallen world, we find ourselves exposed to pain, sorrow, grief, mistreatment, hurt, and sometimes even very traumatic things. When we become believers, the world doesn't change, but we do. While we will still experience these things, we can now approach them in new and different ways. In Christ, we are new creatures, being shaped and formed into His very likeness through sanctification. We put off sin and put on righteousness, a process that goes on for the rest of our lives here on this earth until Christ returns and we are glorified. This struggle involves dealing with our own sins and with those who sin against us. But how does one rightly do that when the sinning against us occurs in the church? What is to be done when someone in the church is responsible for hurting, harming, or mistreating us? Sometimes the pain is so traumatic for people that they leave a church to go to another church. What should someone be looking for if they do this? What kind of questions can they ask to feel confident and sure the new church is a safe and loving environment? These are hard questions and concerns that Dr. Richard Caldwell and Dr. Josh Philpot take up this week on the Straight Truth podcast. Join us to hear how they seek to provide biblical clarity and wisdom on this topic.
Dr. Caldwell acknowledges the truth that people have been, and are, hurt in churches. He explains that it sometimes results because of unfaithful shepherds where people are not handled rightly, not treated rightly, and responded to rightly. But it can also come about by way of other believers. Even God’s people can act in ways that grieve the Spirit of God and hurt their brethren. It is a reality that happens, and in no way does he want to diminish this. However, he says, people today are seemingly more sensitive to their own hurt and mistreatment, having an overly self-awareness of how others treat them. He comments that people tend toward fragility where there really isn’t fragility and where they ought to recognize real fragility they don’t. He explains this comment by reminding us of the brevity of our lives; we are literally one breath away from eternity, and we do not sustain our own lives. It is God who sustains us and strengthens us in everything that we face in this life. Anything we’ve overcome in this life is because God has done that. Dr. Caldwell shares how God’s people have been mistreated through the ages, giving some examples from Scripture to help us to grasp this truth, as he further explains that it’s with the Lord's help and the Lord’s strength that we can overcome all kinds of things, including grievous mistreatment.
Dr. Caldwell says that anyone who comes out of a hurtful situation in a church and is looking for a new church, will need to adjust their expectations. First, there is no safe place in this world. Only heaven will be safe. They'll want to look for a church that is doctrinally faithful, and has qualified leaders. Once in a healthy church, they'll need to remember that they're going to meet with things that are not pristine, things that are not perfect, yet it's a church where sin is not ignored or excused. Dr. Caldwell shares the example of the Corinthian church, reminding us that sin must be dealt with within the church body.
Dr. Caldwell has questions for those who have left a church due to some hurt or mistreatment. He would like to know how they view what it means to be a Christian in the world they're living in, and what is their ecclesiology; what is their view of the church. He shares there needs to be a right view of God, of humanity, of what salvation grants and doesn’t, a right view of our strength in the Lord versus our weakness, and a right view of dealing with sin issues. Again, this is not to diminish in any way at all how the person has been mistreated and hurt. It is wrong when this happens. But says Dr. Caldwell, wrongs can be exaggerated, and the remedy for the wrongs done often don’t match Scripture. Remedying wrong in the life of the church requires confession of sin, repentance of sin, and forgiveness. Do we believe that we're never going to sin against someone else and have to seek their forgiveness? We live in a world, the church world, where grace is needed. Where we are extending grace to others, but also where they have to be gracious to us. We are to live in a way with others where we are not ignoring sin, not excusing sin, but dealing with sin rightly, thus allowing us to get to the other side of it and walk together.
Dr. Caldwell shares that even when you have a healthy church, and they are doing their very best to deal with issues within, there is no guarantee that every member will respond rightly. Just as sin issues emerged in the New Testament churches and had to be dealt with, so also sin issues will emerge among churches today and have to be dealt with. In a healthy church, the issues will be dealt with in keeping with the law of our land and in keeping with the instructions we've been given in the New Testament.
About The Straight Truth Podcast
The Straight Truth Podcast: Christian Opinions in an Increasingly Secular World. Join Dr. Richard Caldwell, Dr. Josh Philpot, and their guests as they discuss news events, current affairs, and cultural issues from a Biblical point of view. Find the truth at www.straighttruth.net
The Straight Truth Podcast is a weekly opinion show hosted by Dr. Richard Caldwell and Dr. Josh Philpot. Straight Truth is available as an audio podcast on iTunes or as a video podcast through YouTube or Vimeo. The duration of the podcast is approximately 10 minutes. We release new episodes every Thursday.
The topics discussed in the Straight Truth Podcast are current events, matters that challenge traditional Christian values, and questions submitted by audience members. Dr. Caldwell, Dr. Philpot, and their guests seek to answer these questions with Biblical truths and from a Christian conservative point of view. The Holy Bible is the inspired, infallible, and inerrant Word of God; it alone is and will be the basis and authority of
answering any and all questions.
The Straight Truth Podcast is the perfect podcast for those seeking to strengthen their faith, to be informed on how to broach difficult topics with a Christian point of view, to share their faith with unbelieving friends, to challenge the status quo of their own beliefs by viewing them under the lens of the Scriptures, to interpret current news events from a Biblical point of view, and more.
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