My Testimony Story #3: Have You Been Rejected By The Church?
Have you been rejected by the church? Another way people refer to it is to say “burned by the church”.
Even if you’ve never heard this phrase, chances are you know someone who would use it. Someone who feels they have been rejected by THE church, and now has a bad taste in their mouth where anything religious is concerned. “The church is whack, religion is whack, so god must be whack too….”
Or maybe even you yourself feel this way….
This may sound odd to you…. But I am someone who has been a Christian my whole life. I still have a growing relationship with Jesus to this day. I choose to follow Him in my life, and I’m closer to Him now than I ever have been. But even I have been “burned by the church”, and I’m not a lover of the church system.
How can that be?!
Well, let me explain. In this blog post I want to talk about my negative experience with THE church when I was growing up. And how it affected me then, and now.
I do talk more about how it largely affected me in my early life in my last “My Testimony Story” blog. I talked about how I grew up being bound by legalism, terrified of God and going to hell. (Find that article here: My Testimony Story #2: Afraid Of God)
Because of that fear, I was a religious church-goer. I will even dare to say I was one of the best rule keepers I knew. And by that, I mean that I was the girl that always obeyed her parents, didn’t date boys, never said a curse word, didn’t go to parties, didn’t watch the movies that everyone else was talking about, and did not participate in vulgar talk or jest….. even though a lot of my church peers did.
I went to church because I was “supposed to”. God was the boss. The Pastor was the 2nd in command and said we were supposed to go to church, and obviously the Pastor was super close to God. SO that meant that it was right to go to church, and wrong not to. Duh, right?
I assumed that everyone else there was as afraid of God as I was, that they wanted to follow the rules and go Heaven (and stay out of hell) as much as I did.
Side note: I want to take a minute to define what I mean by “THE church”. I am referring to the whole church system of America itself. Not any specific denomination. The people who believe in God and talk about Him at a corporate building…. okay, let’s move on. Haha.
CONFUSION AND CONDENMANTION IN THE CHURCH
As I grew up hearing ABOUT God and what the Bible SUPPOSEDLY said about everything in life….I accepted what the Pastor said, and the things I observed, as normal. And not only normal, but “Godly” even. There were certain things you were supposed to do and say, and ways you were to act. And so I did, to the best of my ability. And I have to say…. I am a very disciplined person. I did not step out of line. (Well, at least the line that I had drawn for myself and thought was correct). But I didn’t question any of it. I didn’t go home and read the bible for myself to see what it said. I didn’t talk to God and ask Him to help me understand things, or show me where I was wrong or mistaken. I only talked to God when I needed something. I never actually had a heart to heart with God, or anyone else, about the contradictions that SEEMED to be in the bible. I was confused but I kept my mouth shut, and my questions to myself.
Because I did everything I thought I was supposed to, it was so confusing to me when I didn’t seem to hear God the way other people did. Why didn’t miraculous things happen to me? Why didn’t I have any sort of awesome testimony story? How come other people were seeing visons and speaking in tongues and none of that stuff happened to me?
After all….. I was a very good girl! According to my legalistic standards, I was even better than most other people that I knew. And yet everyone else seemed to be having all these amazing experiences with God. Dancing up and down the aisles, speaking in tongues, getting knocked over by the Holy Spirit, sharing their amazing testimonies and what they heard God tell them in their prayer time…..
Talk about confusing …..and frustrating.
But, back then…..I didn’t have a real relationship with God, (they don’t teach that in most churches). I didn’t know that I could just talk to God and ask Him why. Ask Him for clarification, or an experience of my own. I was just taught rules and judgment. So instead, I took it as a judgment that I didn’t have these experiences, and I felt condemned for it. I thought, obviously God was not pleased with me for some reason and so He didn’t do those special things for me like He did others.
“THE” INCIDENT: REJECTED BY THE CHURCH
So I accepted the way things were and trucked on for years. I would never turn my back on God, so what else was I supposed to do? *shrug*
When I was a little older, around 15 or 16, something happened that shook my perspective. I didn’t even realize it so much at the time, but now I see that it set things up for me to see more clearly years down the road. Because it caused me to question….
To question the norm. To question what the church told me that God liked and didn’t like. To question what a real relationship with God actually looked like, instead of just taking other people’s word for it.
I didn’t do anything about it immediately. God had to give me time and get the truth to me slowly. But it set me up for Him to be able to do that later.
There was an incident with my friend. This friend did something that was wrong and shameful; they sinned. *GASP*
Not just a little petty sin. No, a big juicy sin. (I say this to mock the churches idea that some sins are worse than others. God doesn’t have a sin scale… btw; that’s not in the Bible. But I’m sure many of you are aware of the false perception that some sin is worse than other sin. Apparently there’s some imaginary sin hierarchy and we’re all supposed to know where everything is placed inside of it).
Because this person’s sin was obviously higher on the scale… this person was shunned out of the church. Suddenly, anything good or right that they HAD done, or were doing, did not matter. All that mattered was this area of weakness that they had fallen in. They were gossiped about. Judged. Condemned…. and given up on.
No one reached out to offer help. Give advice, or ask “how are you handling things? Let me remind you that Jesus already died on the cross to cover that sin.” For goodness sakes, where is the love of God in all of that?
All of that was pretty sucky of course. But it gets worse when I say that just because I was associated with this person….I TOO was shunned. I felt dirty. Like I did something wrong. Somehow I was obviously “fallen” from the Lord. “She’s obviously abandoned the faith”, people thought. And no one wanted to talk to me – ask me how I was or if I needed support in the situation.
I felt like I, myself had done this wrong deed.
Me….who never did anything wrong. Who kept to herself. Was kind. Followed directions and never caused any trouble.
The Start Of A New Chapter
Shortly after, I stopped going to church. For the first time in my life, I was not a regular church attendee. I did not “belong” to any church. It was a huge life-shift for me.
BUT….. I would NOT blame God. I would not turn my back on Him because of my hurt and confusion. He WAS GOD!…. after all. He still created me, gave me breath…..
Breath, that as far as I was concerned, He would take away any moment He had a good enough reason.
I believe this set me on an entirely different course in my life.
I did have a dry season for a time. I realize now that it was because I wasn’t hungry for anymore of what the church had been feeding me my whole life. I was way done with the diet of legalism, fear, judgment, and condemnation I had been fed for so long. I was doen trying so hard to be good…. for seemingly no reaosn.
What’s My Point?
I share this part of my story to tell you that IF YOU HAVE BEEN REJECTED BY THE CHURCH SOMEHOW, THAT DOESN’T MEAN THAT YOU ARE REJECTED BY GOD, OR THAT YOU NEED TO THROW GOD OUT WITH THE REST OF THE CHURCH PEOPLE.
Because I stayed the course, God led me on a journey. A crazy, eye-opening journey of finding HIM, and a REAL relationship with Him.
…… A jounrey to find grace and freedom from condemnation and fear of hell.
He led me to the answers to so many of my questions. (Like some of the questions I mentioned earlier in this post, and more).
God led me to the places where I could be fed a new spiritual diet. A diet that consisted of the GOOD news of the TRUE gospel, grace, unconditional love, acceptance, power, and freedom.
I am now in a relationship with God that I never thought possible.
I AM THAT PERSON who hears his voice.
I AM THAT PERSON who has prophetic dreams.
I AM THAT PERSON who has received a supernatural healing.
…..And I have only attended church for about 3 years off and on during the past 16 years of my life!
If you are disappointed by the church, shunned, judged, cast out, condemned, rejected…. PLEASE don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. Don’t throw Jesus out with the whole church.
Churches are full of hurting and scared people, trying to act like they’re NOT hurting and scared. And in order to feel less scared, they need to feel like they have all of the answers. But, if they had the RIGHT answers, they wouldn’t be judging, condemning, and shunning others. They would be loving, teaching, and empowering others.
(DISCLAIMER: I want to emphasize the point that there ARE good churches out there. Not all churches are bad. But the good ones are few. And you will NEVER find a church that is full of perfect people who are not struggling.)
It’s this “journey” with the Lord that this blog series is all about; I will be unfolding it piece by piece in each post.
If you missed the Testimony Story Series Introduction, find it here:New Blog Series Introduction: My Testimony Story
Please feel free to leave a comment or reach out to me privately with questions, or just to chat with someone who understands and cares.
I would love to be a guiding hand to anyone who finds themselves rejected by the church. Or, if you’re someone who doesn’t even want to try a church because you’re already convinced that you won’t fit in.
Until next time, day each day one day at a time.