However, becoming bitter from disappointments, lies, and mistreatment by our brothers and sisters in Christ is a poison that we cannot afford to allow into our system.
Wounds inflicted by members of the Stepford church
By using the term “Stepford church”, I’m referring to the universal Body of Christ, since Stepford Christians are located throughout the world. If you’re not familiar with the movie “The Stepford Wives”, the film takes place in the peaceful town of Stepford where everything appears to be perfect.
There is power available to you to heal all of your emotional wounds. This power did not originate with man, nor should it be shut off by man.
Particularly perfect are the wives of Stepford. They’re subservient, loving, helpful, cheerful, supportive, and willing to do whatever it takes to keep their families happy. I won’t spoil the movie for those of you who would like to see it, but little do these wives know, there is a secret shared among the husbands of Stepford which promotes an environment that is not quite as it seems.
If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, no doubt you’ve come across a few brothers or sisters who seem to say all the right things. They look the part and they sound the part. But when the time comes for them to act the part, you’re left bewildered from how you’re treated by someone who looked and seemed so genuine.
We all want the appropriate return on our investment
Let’s face it, it takes work to live the Christian life. Fulfilling the commandment of love requires us to invest our time, our effort, our emotions and our finances into people.
When we invest our time, our efforts, our kindness, our willingness to help and our finances into people, it’s natural to expect others to be willing to invest in us in our time of need. When you experience disappointments from others in your time of need, the temptation is to become bitter.
The key in warding off bitterness is to remember where our dividend for fulfilling the law of love comes from. Our motivation for loving people should be God based. If that’s the case, to expect to receive a return from specific people in our time of need would be like working for Microsoft while expecting compensation from Apple.
Our blessing in times of need comes from God. And while its true that blessings come through the hands of people, we don’t get to pick and choose which people God will use to bless us.
There are dear brothers and sisters in the Lord who have walked away from the church because they felt they were mistreated by other Christians. If you’re reading this and you’ve suffered emotional wounds or have been disillusioned with the church due to your interactions with other Christians, let me first say that I’m sorry you’ve been let down. If it’s any consolation to you, we’ve all suffered wounds, have been let down, and have experienced feelings of disappointment at the hands of brothers and sisters in the church.
However, I also want to share with you that your emotional wounds and feelings of disappointment have nothing to do with the individual who hurt you. Sure, a brother or sister may not have been there for you in your time of need, but please don’t fall victim to the grand deception the enemy has to shut you down and separate you from the rest of the Body of Christ by deeds committed by a particular person.
By harboring feelings of ill will or anger you are only poisoning your own relationship with God, not theirs. And to allow yourself to be cut off from the church because of the actions of someone in the church is akin to committing spiritual suicide based upon an action (or inaction) committed by someone who obviously has yet to discover what it means to walk in love.
It’s about your relationship with God first
Our relationship with others must be fueled by our relationship with God. The reason why you’re suffering disappointment at the hands of someone else is due to a deficiency in their relationship with God. Evidence of that deficiency is the fact that you aren’t being treated right by them.
Don’t allow yourself to be infected with the same poison. Realize that the love fueled life we live is lived as a testament of the love of God which is alive and well in our hearts. This God kind of love is not motivated by a hopeful payoff from others, nor should it be shut down by the misdeeds of others.
Jesus’ encounter with a Stepford follower
Even Jesus Himself experienced what it was like to be let down by a Stepford follower. In Matthew 26:31-35, Jesus predicts Peter’s denial of Him. In Matthew 26:33 Peter tells Jesus “Even though all others fall away, I never will”. At face value, Peter’s devotion appears commendable. He sounds like a companion that Jesus could count on. But just a few hours later in Matthew 26:69-75, when placed under pressure, Peter denies knowing Jesus 3 times.
The healing of your wounds lies in your ability to forgive
This same Peter who denied knowing Jesus 3 times was used mightily by God later in the scriptures. The same love that forgave and restored Peter lives inside each and every one of us. I’d like to encourage you to forgive and restore those who have wronged you.
Resist the temptation to become bitter or to separate yourself from the church because of emotional wounds you may have suffered at the hands of another. Realize that the life that we live is powered by and motivated by the love of Jesus Christ. There is power available to you to heal all of your emotional wounds. This power did not originate with man, nor should it be shut off by man.