Within our personal issues of vulnerability, there are usually troubling problems. These are bruised and painful areas, things that result in terrible devastation in our lives and loved ones. Here are just a few of them:
- alcoholism and drug abuse
- mental illnesses
- sex addictions, internet porn
- physically disabled
- chronic depression
- suicidal thinking
- religious deception, cults
- on and on…
This isn’t a definitive list by no means. (Although each are substantial issues of pain and conflict.) But as defeated strugglers we feel intimidated by leadership in the Church. We feel frustrated, and very much alone. This is a problem.
It seems all we can see is their authority, and we are afraid. Typically, in our fellowships, our pastors and elders are men. And that alone can sometimes create issues in hearts looking for a tenderness that will heal. (We need to make room for our sisters to help us out. Just a thought.)
Often rather than opening our brokenness up to our shepherds, we fabricate illusions of self-sufficiency and invulnerability. But we are still afraid deep down, and our weaknesses affect us profoundly. We are afraid of disclosure. We fear that some will find out who we are really.
Because we’re strugglers filled with great deal of pain and confusion, we can label ourselves as “hopeless” and very much lost. Some of us secretly believe that they have committed the unpardonable sin. (But this is a lie, as God forgives every sin but one.)
Some have heard (or misheard) that they are going to hell no matter what they do, and that they are truly lost and irrevocably separated from God. They need to know this is a lie, because when “we confess our sins, the blood of Jesus covers them ALL and cleanses us from ALL unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
Many of us who struggle have an ugly and a twisted sense of our leaders in the Church. We get really strange whenever we meet them– a sort of a deep craziness I suppose. We are afraid of the ‘man of God’ and think he is going to ‘see’ an unresolved sins in our lives and shame us publicly (see Joshua 7).
Pastor, you should understand that some of us feel pretty much lost all the time.
Typically, we avoid those who are sent to pastor us. As a result of our flaws and weaknesses we will separate from the Church. This reality is we feel like we don’t belong. We may feel like a hypocrite just coming to church. That is a warning light of trouble.
Often we try to live a life insulated from any outside intervention. We avoid people who could really help us. We are terribly sick, and need a pastor or elder to help us work through these things. Certainly that there is often a need for scriptural correction, but always in love– and even then with some tears.
There is a spiritual war that encompasses us. The torrents of hell are released on us and we discover Satan working in various ways. Admitting you’re under attack is not weakness. (If you knew what you are really facing you’d be terrified.) But Jesus Christ stands to intervene for us.