This morning I read another article about pastor exposed. Every time before today when I have read one of these articles I confess that I feel justified in my decision to leave the church. But this article was different.
Even though I had never met this pastor, I had followed his sermons online for years. The things that he said made a real and lasting impact on my life. After listening to one of his sermons, I realized the weight of a lie I had been carrying had become too heavy. I sent this pastor an email from an anonymous account. I told him what had been happening. In his compassionate response back he said, Come out into the light.
His email gave me the courage to call a counselor for the first time. It began the process of opening the door to freedom from an abusive relationship with another pastor, and I will always be grateful for this.
But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, “Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:13 & 14
When anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible for everyone to see. Sadly, the world does not shed a compassionate light when darkness is exposed. Everyone has an opinion. And the saying is true…most of them stink.
I am as confused as most about the sexual sin, abuse, pride, political idolatry, racism, and bigotry being exposed in religious organizations daily. I find myself wondering at the rate things are happening what the church will look like in another decade?
After having been abused in church, I no longer feel safe attending. I tried for several years to continue to attend, but the triggers were just too much. It was an act of self-compassion to make the decision to stop going. It has also been an effort to hold on to my faith.
As I said earlier, many of the exposure articles I have read have given me justification for leaving the church. Last week, I read a Twitter post from a pastor who made a generalized statement about a Christian not going to church is like a cancer patient not getting chemo. Sometimes it feels like the church is great at pointing out what everyone else is doing wrong, but falls way short of addressing the darkness inside the walls of it’s institutions.
For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Is it not those inside the church whom you are to judge? I Corinthians 5:12
Even though I have lost so much faith in the institution of the church, I have not lost faith in Christ.
What does it look like for the light of Christ to shine into our darkness?
Too many times I let the responses of others be where I look to find the answer.
The loud judgments in the comments section.
Or the denial of those who minimize, excuse or remain silent about what brings us harm.
Christ does not condemn.
Christ does not deny or dismiss our pain.
He whispers to us in our slumber to wake up.
He collects our every tear in His bottle.
He turns over the tables in the church where abuse is overlooked.
He breathes into our lungs and gives us life.
Over and over and over again.
I’m so thankful He came into my darkness and showed me His true light. It was the only way I survived.
My heart is grieved and disillusioned by another pastor exposed. It would be easy to dismiss my pain with cynicism and apathy. It would be easy to judge.
But then I remember the door to my own dark prison opening and the light shining in. I remember His compassion and grace and the feel of His healing breath into my lungs keeping me alive.
And I’m so thankful that it really is all about His grace.
“Awake, O sleeper,
and arise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”