I was looking through Facebook the other day and something hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that many of my best friends growing up are no longer in church. It saddened me that we’ve lost touch and that I don’t know what’s going on in your life, I don’t know what happened and I don’t know what you’re going through. If you’re reading this and you’re one of those friends, I just want to tell you two things:
I’m sorry you were hurt.
I know so many of you have been hurt by the church, or by someone who you thought was an example to you of what a Christian should be. I’ve heard it so many times, people believing and loving God but not being able to get passed what people have done to them. Maybe it was the youth leader we had who was just a mean guy. Or your mom teaching us that sex before marriage was against God and wrong, but then inviting her boyfriend over on the weekends. Or the dirty looks you got when you came to church because of the way you dressed or your haircut. I’m sorry, those things should’ve never happened. Unfortunately, you’re not the only one to experience this. Mahatma Gandhi is credited to saying “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” I don’t know what to do to make this better, I don’t know how to apologize. The only thing I can say is that everyone has failed. We all make mistakes and are in need of grace, that’s what makes us human. I know that seem like a cop out, it’s too easy. But that’s all have, you deserved better and I’m sorry you didn’t get it.
God still loves you
God is not mad at you, He still loves you. It may be hard to understand that love because for so many of us we saw the people who hurt us as our connection with God. They were the ones who taught us bible verses, took us to youth camp, and prayed for us. So when they failed or cut us off, we felt as if God failed us and cut us off. Here’s the thing, you have to separate God from the person that hurt you, the person that abandoned you. God does not hurt and abandon, he heals and connects.
If you grew up in church, I’m sure you remember the story of the prodigal son found in Luke chapter 15. The son represents us when we leave God when we go out and try to do things on our own. But when we do that, it seems as if the satisfaction always fades. It takes more and more to keep us happy and fulfilled and then we realize we’ll never get enough. That’s what happened with the son, so he goes back to the father who represents our heavenly Father, expecting to be rejected. The father doesn’t reject the son, he runs towards him. The son was dirty and considered “unclean” by society but the father didn’t care, he put his best robe on his son to signify that this was his son and he was proud of him. The father didn’t tell the son to clean up then he would get the robe, he covered him then he worried about cleaning him. This is what God wants to do with all of us, he wants to cover us and claim us as his. So whenever you’re ready— the father will run toward you and cover you with his grace.
Alex lives in Austin, Texas and is currently planting Oasis Church along with his parents. He has hope for the future even though so many have already decided this generation’s future. He believes that the best is yet to come.