Imagine feeling painfully alone and wanting desperately to feel connected to other human beings, yet feeling like you are looking through what seems like an invisible force field. This is how many abuse and assault survivors feel. Their soul so deeply wounded they feel extremely fearful and fragile. Their emotional and spiritual wounds make them seem difficult to deal with which often puts off members of a church body whose lives are so full and busy they have no time for coaxing the hurting from behind the assumed “silliness” and “attention seeking” of the person’s unusual behavior. This impatience and quick dismissal, or worse accusations of laziness or demonic influence by members of Christ’s body often magnifies the isolation felt. I remember those feelings well.
I still remember every ignorant and cruel remark flung my way by Christians who lacked compassion for the wounded and sick, for those whose behavior doesn’t fit neatly in their box of acceptable, low maintenance behavior. I still feel the tightness in my chest that causes me to lose my breath as I would watch the fellowship and “passing of peace” in the opening minutes of the service. I feel the deep cut to my spirit as church members greet each other with handshakes, hugs, and hearty “glad to see you” remarks, all the while passing me by even avoiding eye contact.
How Christ must weep at every lonely, hurting heart seeking the fellowship of His body and finding none. Worshiping God and the teaching of His Word is the backbone of the church but loving those the world calls “un-loveable”, befriending the lonely, caring for bruised reeds and fanning into flame the flickering flames is certainly the flesh of the Church. If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you…And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? (Luke 6:32-33). The passage goes on to say that we are to love and do good expecting nothing in return, imitating the Most High God, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil, therefore be merciful as your Father is merciful. (see Luke 6:35-36).
I am so thankful for those in my church who patiently and lovingly brought me into their lives and circle of fellowship. To some I am still invisible, there I also must show grace, for we are all under the grace of Christ. He is continuing to work in my life and the life of His bride, the Church. The fellowship of Christ’s body can be such a place of healing and support if they are willing to be so for more than only neatly wrapped individuals.
Be challenged by the love of Christ to offer fellowship to the new, the barely familiar and the struggling in your church. Be used by God to help end someone’s “on the outside looking in” feelings. Change lives of those desperately hungry by inviting them to the wedding feast of God’s love through the fellowship of the Church, for every believer is an equal part as the bride of Christ.