I start with this caveat: we’re called to be obedient to God, which includes being a part of His local church body, and we can’t let scars keep us from being obedient to Him. On the other hand, I’ve seen people bear scars of church life for many years. Here are sources of some of those scars – and I encourage you to use this list to see if you have any of the scars.
- Betrayed confidence. I’ve written previously about my personal reticence to offer confidentiality, but I nevertheless recognize this issue. It takes only one broken confidence to make you distrust others for some time.
- Fallen leadership. This scar is especially painful if you were close to the one who has fallen. When our friends and heroes fall, it’s sometimes tough to ever get close to anyone again.
- Church conflict. I’ve met people who still remember with pain a congregational conflict that occurred years ago. Decades even. The wounds can be deep, and the scars are obvious.
- Member hypocrisy. I know it’s an excuse (“The church is full of hypocrites”), and it’s often an exaggerated one – but the problem is real. If you’ve known only a few apparently genuine Christians in a church, it’s easy to get jaded against “believers.”
- Family hurt. It’s one thing when somebody in the church attacks you in some way; it’s another matter when somebody goes after your family. Forgiving an offender feels like you somehow have chosen not to defend your family—so it’s easier to stay angry.
- Ministry neglect. The deeper your pain is, the more it hurts if your church somehow fails to minister to you in your time of need. And, the more it happens, the deeper the scars become.
- Spiritual warfare. We often open the door for the enemy to build up our scars, but we’re foolish to ignore the reality of Satan and his forces. They delight when our hearts get calloused, regardless of the cause.
- Personal sin. This cause is a bit different from the others. In this case, the “scar” is a heart hardened by ongoing sin—including some hearts that attend church every Sunday. Blaming the church for something is easier than taking responsibility for our sin.
What about you? Do you bear any of these scars? Any others that come to mind for you? If you know you have scars, ask God to soften your heart for Him and others.