First, trust me, we all have our problems. Even though the above paragraph truly does represent me and my family most every weekend, we have our own struggles. We all have our past, we all have our besetting sins we must guard against and often repent of, we all have days of tears. Yet, there we are each week enjoying the presence of God in the presence of our brothers and sisters.
The reason I write this is because we get a bad rap most often. A quick "google" and you can find plenty of open letters to us church people from those who have struggles reminding us that we are not perfect and how we don't understand and how we need to quit judging and how we are pushing you away. Well, as a representative of many of these "church people," let me just answer that we know we are not perfect. Probably, we know that more than you understand. We are so far from perfect. Matter of the fact, we make ourselves sick when we look at ourselves, and that's why we are so happy! You see, I know how bad I am, but despite me and my flesh, the Lord has saved me and forgiven me! Because of His great mercy, I get to go to Heaven! What a miracle! How can I not be happy? I have given all my sin and guilt and unrighteousness to God, and in exchange He gave to me His Son's righteousness! All this, by repenting of my sin and trusting in Jesus Christ as my Saviour! Even after that experience, I have failed so many times. Yet, time and time again, I confess my sin and turn from it and He is faithful and just to forgive and cleanse EVERY TIME! No wonder I smile a lot. I know we are not perfect.
The accusation that we don't understand just isn't applicable either. I do understand. I am a sinner. I have sinned and done things I so bad regret. Our sins may be different, but we are both sinners the same. Even if there are some sins I may have never participated in that possibly you find yourself entangled in, doesn't mean I don't understand. All sin is addictive. All sin is powerful. All sin can take over your life. I do understand what it is like to be under the power of sin.
Then there is the whole judging thing. I speak for the great majority here, "no one is judging you." How could someone who knows how wicked they are and how powerful sin is think they are better than someone else struggling with the same thing they struggle with? No, we are not judgmental and no, we do not think we are better. Matter of fact, we care even more. We understand and we reach out our hand to help you with the Truth. That hand out reached is not a hand pushing you away, but a hand to offer you help. A hand to help you get up. A hand to help you overcome. A hand to help stabilize you. The devil tries to get you to duck when we reach out that hand, but he is lying to you. That hand is one that is just there to offer help. The reason we do that is because someone reached out a hand just like that to us in our life. Each of us have needed that hand, and we still do. That's why we spend so much time together with our brothers and sisters. We need each other!
The problem is many times, that the person struggling doesn't want help. Now that statement may upset you and you may think "here he goes again being judgmental," but please let me try to explain. We all are often like little children in the sight of God. We all fall at times. Then, just like I have done both physically as a child and spiritually too often, we lie there and cry because we have fallen. What we want is for someone to lie there next to us and cry with us. We want people to wallow in our sorrow with us and feel like no one understands what it is like to have fallen. Reality is, we all have fallen. Some have harder falls than others, but we all have fallen. What did we need when we fell? We didn't need our parent to lie on the ground and cry with us, we needed a strong and loving hand to lift us up and help us get on our feet again. We needed a stabilizing hand to just "be there" in case we began to fall again. It wasn't long, until that fall was behind us and we weren't even thinking about it anymore...because we let someone help us get up.
How does this work? That "rhetoric" you hear from us ("let the Lord help you," "you must repent and turn from your sin" "you must take hold of God's hand" "you need to come to church and be faithful to services" "quit going to those places that offer temptation") is not judging, it's experience. Those are words that we were told that helped us get up and get on our feet. You see, we don't think less of you because of sin, because we are right there with you as sinners. We just have experienced the forgiveness and restoration of God and the necessity of fellowshipping with our church for strength and stabilizing.
The good news is that there is hope! The Lord will help!
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. Isaiah 41:10, 13It's not just words, the Lord truly will help and strengthen you. His hand is mighty. Victory comes when you are willing to get the sin out and the Lord help you up. And I promise, we will be there offering our hand too, for that's all we know to do, because that is what the Lord and others did for us. We love you!