Church Can Be a Very Lonely Place

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love… (Galatians 5:6).

Have you ever sat in a bible study or church service and felt absolutely unknown or unseen? I have. Have you ever wondered if a place like this was safe to share your pain and since you weren’t quite sure it was, you kept silent? Yeah, that’s been me too.
Can we all just have a really honest moment together? Sometimes the loneliest places are the ones that are supposed to be the places we are known the most. Except for the fact that sometimes, those places don’t see people, because what they’re looking for is results. When results and “something to show” for itself become the driving force for its purpose for existence, hurting people, whose stories need to be heard get left in the dust.
Yes, of course, we have a personal responsibility to open up and be brave enough to share in our brokenness, but the question is, are our church settings providing an open door for others to do so?
I can recall sitting in church and bible study on different occasions feeling like my heart was going to run out of my chest because it was screaming from within, “If you only knew my pain! If you only knew what was going on in my life!” You see, I wanted others to know, I just didn’t believe it was welcomed or safe to share. So I would retreat to the bathroom or to some other private place to cry and weep with the Lord over how desperately I wanted to share my story.
I think pride sometimes gets in the way of our ability to lead in a way that opens the floodgates of transparency in our church settings because brokenness is not something we welcome. Brokeness might keep us from climbing our way to the top and slow us down. But you see, if we as leaders don’t share, it is highly unlikely that those whom we are shepherding will do so.
In the book of Galatians Paul reminds the church in Galatia of this one simple truth, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” That’s it, bottom line. This is the most important thing. It’s not our programs. It’s not our sound system, coffee bar or stellar mission trip we run each year. It’s faith, expressing itself through love. Yes, we can have a coffee bar, a sound system, and a stellar mission trip, but if faith expressing itself through love are not the driving forces behind those ministries than we are wasting our time and making church all about us.
Selfishness, personal preference, and shallow church have to die if we truly want to be an expression of God’s love to a hurting and dying world. Until we do, the lonely will stay lonely. The hurting will self-medicate and the broken will find healing elsewhere, outside of God’s church. Until we open the floodgates of transparency, we will push people who are hurting away to make room for our climb to the top.
Lord, forgive us for making church about us. Forgive us for caring not about people, but about numbers. Forgive us for finding our identity in how great our church programs are, instead of caring well for the people in them. Help us to love the hurting. I know I need your help in that. Help us to make time and create the space for others to share in their brokenness, in Jesus name, Amen.

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