While surfing the internet for a totally different topic, I just ran across stories posted by people who had left the church.
I didn’t intend to get involved in reading them, but I couldn’t seem to stop.
There was such an intense and compelling emotion in each person’s sharing. although many of the circumstances were different.
The articles written by those who had been raised in Church and who had a long family history of Church membership were quite striking.
These included many who had actually been in the ministry and who had parents and grandparents and other relatives in ministry for many years.
They were not uninvolved or sidelined people, but those who were very active and who had held positions in local Churches and even at higher levels.
The most moving stories however, were about people who had come to the Church, been filled with the Holy Ghost, and later left.
I have no doubt about the honesty and sincerity of those writing about their experiences.
I could not help but note that each of these events had several things in common. One was of course guilt — guilt over turning away from something you had believed in for a very long time, perhaps all of your life.
Another was that they had always wondered about the validity of some of the things they were taught, but were not allowed to voice questions or inquire about without being considered rebellious, even if the scriptures given for following such ideas [traditions / theology] were perhaps a bit vague.
They had been taught that this is what we believe and whether you fully understand it or not, if you want to go to heaven, you just do it.
Anyone who did not follow the rules to the letter was considered carnal and backslidden. I can understand all of this, because I also grew up in Church.
The other thing they had in common hurt me. It hurt me badly. It was this. They said that when they began to feel they could not longer follow all of the strict rules and began to wear a light touch of foundation, trim the dead ends of their hair, or with the case of the men, let their hair grow a bit longer than usual, the rest of the church began to give them the cold shoulder.
While before, there had always been big hugs and “I love you”s, now they were offered only a light handshake or even were avoided, or in some cases, snubbed.
The next comment broke me. They said that when they did decide to leave the Church, almost no one even came to see where they went to.
Those who had once loved them and fellowshipped with them and said they were their brothers and sisters in The LORD, did not even bother to give them a call or stop by for a visit.
Some passed them on the street and either only nodded, or attempted to avoid them all together.
I know they’re telling the truth, because it happened to me.
I won’t quote scriptures here. I don’t think it’s necessary. What I will say is that this is totally opposite of Christ!
It’s against everything He taught, everything He was about. Whomever started this kind of behavior and allowed it to continue, will answer to God for what they have done.
The Word says that even the Shepherds have not sought the sheep that were lost. I even once heard someone say that, “they found the door to leave and they know the way back.”
Jesus said, “Go get them — and don’t you stop looking until you find them!”
Lost sheep, lost son, lost coin…. how many more stories did He tell in order that we got the message?
Leave the ninety and nine that are safe in the fold, or in the church, and get out and go search for that one that is missing, until you find it.
Restore such a one with a spirit of meekness.
There’s no need to quote that scripture either. How could we do this?
Okay, we may not agree with what they did, or they may not want to come back, but not to even go see what happened to them, or not even have a hug or a kind word for them when we see them on the street?
There’s only one cure for this. We will leave, or be driven out one day, and no one will come to look for us either!
Someone’s child is lost from the Church and we don’t do everything we can to help search for them and administer love to them! I don’t care what they’ve done!
Then God forbid that one of ours is lost somehow, and no one helps us recover them either.
Jesus later said that He would search for the lost sheep Himself. He said He would find them and bind up their wounds — but woe to them that had scattered them and not visited them when they were lost. That is His word.
It might be that these sheep have decided to move on to other pastures and they may never come back to the fold we are in.
But let it never be said that when they became lost, that we did not go to them and find them and put our arms around them and say, “I love you and I will always love you, no matter what.”
This, is Christ.
I was going to end this here, but all of a sudden I heard a voice speak something I’ve heard before and it goes like this, “They know I love them and they know the Truth.
Oh, do get over yourself. I said go find them and keep finding them so that even if they leave this world, they will leave it knowing that you loved them to the very end.”
First published: February 11, 2010.
~ Robert Blackburn