A few days ago, Wesley posted this comment which was addressed to Brian.
I apologize I haven’t read all your postings here. Help me out. What do you feel toward those who have hurt you?
Wesley, this is such a good question. Brian has given you his response. I want to respond as well and explain to you how I feel. My answer has gotten too long to comfortably fit in the comment section, so I have decided to post it as an article.
Some people who come to this website perceive a lot of “bitterness.” They assume that this “bitterness” is unhealthy and dangerous and lies at the root of the broken relationships between our members and former members. They see the “bitterness” as our moral failure.
It feels like there is an imposter claiming to be the bride of Christ. She wears a similar veil so that it is often difficult to tell the difference until you come close and begin to lift it and rather than finding safety, compassion, and embrace you find protocol, judgment and exclusivity. I feel like our decision to move on is a desire to experience the true bride where vulnerable intimacy, unconditional embrace, and true rest exist and where protocol is not in charge except for the protocol to love. What is additionally discouraging is knowing that I have been seduced by this imposter and tried to entice others into her arms, explaining away her institutional nastiness while redirecting attention to her surface-level ‘pretty gown’.
This is a quote by a young pastor who decided to leave the institutional church. He didn’t give up his vocation as a pastor. In fact, he maintains that he can do more with Jesus outside the church than within it. He began to reengage in his community and found ample opportunity to serve Christ there.
Many today are leaving their churches not because of a lack of faith but because of disillusionment. Some find another church; others don’t. Leaving one’s church is a difficult decision that should not be made lightly. However, I do believe that there are healthy aspects to disillusionment. Disillusionment with church may lead some astray, but in many cases it leads to new and deeper expressions of faith.
Bowing to alternative views that appeal to us has always been a temptation. We refuse to believe there is only one way of salvation, only one way to the Father. We choose to believe there are many paths to God.
Why? Because if there are many paths to God instead of just one, then we can willfully and selfishly choose the path we want. We can live the way we want, and never be held accountable by God. We can choose a religion that appeals to our own pride and vanity.
This quotation by evangelist Michael Youssef recently appeared in a friend’s Facebook post, and when I saw it, I instinctively felt a negative reaction. I hope you don’t mind humoring me as I try to explain myself, because this matters to me. I am not objecting to the content of Dr. Youssef’s words, but to the tone and attitude behind them as they are likely to be perceived in our present historical context. I think that his words are unlikely to accomplish what he hopes they will, which is to bring sinners to repentance.