The message of Jesus Christ has been so misrepresented by well meaning Christians that we have unintentionally caused a lot of spiritual casualties who are now emotionally limping through life, refusing to turn to the one who can truly heal. I confess, for a while I was one of those people who refused to go to any church function out of the pain inflicted on me from well meaning people.
As a therapist who sits with people working through their painful life story, I know for a fact that pointing out a person’s flaws, shaming them, and pressuring them to become something they are not never works. What does work is accepting a person right where they are, understanding why they are there, and showing them compassion. I walk through their life story with them while identifying what lies they have believed that has contributed to the mess they are in.
Research shows that our genetics and our experiences starting when we are infants create neurological pathways in our brains that lead to our behavior. We have little control over the initial wiring that happens. Research also shows that experiencing acceptance and compassion literally reconstructs the brain and behavioral change will follow. If worldly professionals know this, wouldn’t the one who created the human brain understand this even more? Doesn’t it make sense that He understands that pressure and shaming doesn’t work? As I read the message of Jesus Christ, I believe the answer to that is a clear absolutely.
Many of us have a picture of God who is distant, or who sits on his throne ready to beat us over the head if we mess up, but the other day I observed something that I think is a much more accurate picture of God. My man has this sweet dog that he rescued from a shelter. She very obviously adores this man who saved her from her bondage, and yet she messes up a lot. Her latest mess up actually began a month ago. He had been out of town and had to stay in a hotel. The bed was uncomfortable, people were loud and banging around, and someone’s car alarm kept going off. He couldn’t wait to get home and sleep in his own bed. Only he couldn’t. Somehow this sweet dog had snuck into his room, and in her distress of missing him, peed on his bed. He did not bother cleaning it up, he simply bought a new mattress. Just over one month later, she once again peed in his bed. One may expect that he would be furious. Some may even see this behavior worthy of my man getting rid of his dog but that is not how he handled her. You see, he understands that she came to him with some experiences that left her very anxious. He knows that she loves him and does not mean to mess up the way she does. He loves her in spite of her flaws, and he is very patient and gentle with her. This is a much more accurate picture of the Creator of the Universe.
I have often sat back and grieved that the message of the church can feel more shaming than healing, while the message of the world is that you are beautiful no matter what and worthy of acceptance. I want to apologize on behalf of the church to all who have felt that message. I want to encourage those of us who have sent that message to be aware of how we may be received in our interactions to our children, and others in our community (me included. The Lord knows I have been guilty of the shaming myself. I have also been the victim of others who have shamed.) For those who have been shamed and are avoiding organized religion I would like to extend an invitation to come see us at Olive Chapel. It is our goal to be a church that helps the community find healing at the cross, not shame. Our services begin at 10:00 A.M. EST Sunday mornings. We would love to meet you and invite you into a group of imperfect people who love the Lord and strive to love and accept others.