Sabbath School Lesson Review: When Faith Doesn't Work

I found the story in the introduction to this past week's Adult Sabbath School Lesson fascinating though tragic.  Who could have known that the good doctor was leading such a dark existence behind closed doors?

Which is kind of the point, methinks.  Did not anybody - family, pastor, friends, co-workers - know that he was having such struggles?  It makes me think of something that I church member said to me a long time ago:

"I will NEVER go to my church if I'm having some kind of life crisis or need help.  These 'holy' people are just hypocrites and just want to get into your business and gossip and judge you.  They don't really care about you and won't help you if you're not part of their clique.  F*** them!

I call that the "when faith doesn't work" syndrome.  In some (not all) churches, the faith community does not work to support the hurting member; the member struggling with drug addiction or pornography; the married couple going through problems that could end in infidelity and divorce; the pastor or church leader who is having emotional/mental health issues and needs professional help; the abused wife of the head deacon; the sexually active teen who just missed her period; and the list goes on and on.  Our churches having hurting people who sense a disconnect between our message of caring and our mission to care for one another.  It is quicker and easier for us to judge, gossip about and give church discipline to erring members than give empathic, wholistic support and care to them.

We have so much work to do to create an authentic, palpable atmosphere of charity, grace and unconditional acceptance in our churches.  It takes lots of prayer, repentance and hard work to build a caring community of equipped, compassionate caregivers who actually "sit with sinners and eats with them" like Jesus did.  Sinners of all kinds felt the love and were welcome in his presence, and often "came out" to Him with their deepest, darkest secrets and needs because they knew that it was safe to do so.  When our churches are that way, it is far more likely that the afflicted and hurting people among us will not fall through the cracks.  They will find grace and help in time of need, a loving supporting church family who will not abandon them or judge them when they have fallen from grace or are battling an issue with serious social stigma attached to it.  If we by faith work to build such a place of unconditional love, forgiveness and acceptance, all manner of hurting and afflicted people will come to Jesus and receive the healing power of God's love into their hearts and be made whole.

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