I spent nearly 20 years in a church that did a lot of damage to my faith, I call it the “cult church” now. It was a non-denominational church with certain practices and legalistic oppressions that stifled and stunted the lives of many, while a few lorded their power over the rest. I was manipulated into subjection and disciplined unfairly, in the process destroying any chance to breathe-in the sweet air of grace.
I willingly, though rebelliously participated. I have realized that my need for approval and to be accepted was a big driver for me. They exploited my broken-ness to full advantage by naming my afflictions but doing nothing to help me escape them. They used my gifts when it was convenient and shelved me at their slightest whim.
It wasn’t a good environment to find God in, and I didn’t. This regimented ill-treatment caused me to develop some pretty negative views of the church as a whole. Many of the perceptions and observations I have made regarding certain subjects I stand by steadfastly; but I also know I need to have a cleansing of the palette as it were.
The time came, in which I needed to strip away all the learned ideas I had about the church. Truthfully, I cannot even go to church today without cynicism rising up and deftly pointing out the many flaws I witness. I grew to hate the church, what it stood for, it’s influences, it’s teaching, the music, everything. I will tell you why. I was spiritually abused by the church just as I was sexually abused as a child. My whole concept of a loving Father had been completely destroyed.
I needed to take a break to get the bad taste out of my mouth and discover for myself what I needed spiritually.
I now know what that is. Truth. Love. Authenticity.
Truth that speaks the heart of God to the challenges of today. Truth that doesn’t over spiritualize everything. Truth that acknowledges our inability to do things apart from a relationship with a Father we can trust. Truth that examines itself and is willing to change if need be. Truth in every action. Truth that has an unshakeable foundation.
Love that overrides all sin or offence. Love that stays in relationship in spite of our shared flaws. Love that God commands which goes beyond our comfort levels. Love that helps another overcome, reach higher, be a better person. Love that confronts sin, lovingly. Love that embraces the mourning, encourages the depressed and celebrates with the victorious.
Authenticity that speaks what it means. Authenticity that tackles the subjects everyone knows exist but are afraid to approach. Authenticity that is more than a word but a lifestyle. Authenticity that goes beyond a conversation between two and reaches many with real spiritual power. Authenticity that isn’t shallow, but deep and transparent. Authenticity that doesn’t care what is known about them, but is more concerned with how that knowledge can help free others.
Please bear with me as I detox from all the crud I took in and as I search for some clean air to fill my lungs. I am going back to basics while I rethink the church and all it represents; building my foundation from the ground up and not upon a denomination, a charismatic personality, or a really good worship band.
Instead upon God’s truth, unconditional love, and real authenticty…I will know it when I see it.