Last night I watched “To Save a Life.” There is a scene in the movie where the new kid at church calls the youth group on the floor about the judgmental hypocritical actions of the church. It was right on, a very powerful, convicting scene. However, the movie ended and I gave little thought after the fact to that scene.
But today I met a young man, and with passionate anger he made my heart sad. His anger was pure and raw. Had I been the object of his anger, I would have been fearful. Seven hours later his words still ring in my ears, tear at my heart, and have me on the verge of tears. I am enraged and so very heartbroken.
He told of his own plea to save a life and the actions of the people at the church. He told of the heart that went empty to the church, only to be judged for outward appearance. Not a small slight, but outright to the face comments, that cracked the already broken spirit. That one life, pulled on the lives of all around it.
One person’s negative attitude towards someone hurting and broken, broke her spirit and the life of others reaching out for help that day. He had worked for some time to convince this small group that God held the answer. And in a moment his work, and the work Christ died on the cross for, was discarded by a judgmental attitude of a “Christian.”
As I drove home, my heart sank again as I was listening to the radio talk about “Make a Difference.” Reaching out to others to reach them for Christ is what the Christian walk is supposed to be about. I try to make a difference for the short time I interact with people I meet. But the truth is, I want to point them to a place that will continue to pour into their lives after they have left mine. Ideally that would be the Church – a people and place that would continue to build hurting people up while God works to heal the hurts that life has thrown their way.
But the sad truth is that most churches no longer reach out to help those that are hurting. They are okay with the slightly injured, those they can place a mask on and parade around as changed until true change can come. The fake it until you make it is a popular slogan. But the time, energy and love that is needed to bring healing to lives of those hurting – most find it is easier to push them away and judge their behaviors as not trying. They refuse to help them work through the layers of pain and hurt, the cause of their sin symptoms, to minister the reconciliation and salvation Christ died to give them, that they are too hurt to accept.
And so I am left with a sad heart. I have seen too often the hurt that churches can cause on an already injured person. The Church is supposed to be the hospital for hurting people, emergency, trauma, long-term acute care – whatever is needed to heal completely. Instead, I have seen and heard that many are more of a screening center and specialty practice where people can get just the parts they want touched up. That is not what Christ died for. He came to heal the brokenhearted; not turn them away. He came to set the captive free; not make their burdens feel heavier. He came to lead people out of the darkness; not push them deeper into it.
I wish I could easily sum this up and have the solution to this problem. The simple answer is that we need to do as Christ did. We need to be moved by compassion. We need to love. We need to realize that we all fell short and that God was patient with us and loved us while we were still sinners. We need to realize that God didn’t clean people up before he accepted them. He accepted them and in that relationship people were changed. I don’t know how God can handle the evil that some people have went through, but I know that in my sin state God sees me the same as he does the person that has been through things that I can not even fathom occurring. He loves them, and I am called to do likewise.
So I am left with a sad heart, praying not only for those who are in the depths of despair, but for those who are supposed to be reaching out, especially within the four walls of the buildings that are supposed to be God’s house.