Let’s be honest about something for a minute, shall we? Christians really are the worst sometimes. Pretentious, judgy, unwilling to entertain conversations that might go against what they (or should I say “we”?) have decided is the “right” way to do things.
I’ve overheard conversations between Christians that made me cringe.
I’ve experienced behavior from fellow believers that was incredibly wounding.
I’ve also said things in the name of my faith that I am ashamed of when I think back on them.
It was not until college that I started to fully become aware of the extent of the damage inflicted on people by Christians. That’s when I really started to see people leave behind the church and Jesus, not just because they were out from under the authority of their parents, but because they didn’t want anything more to do with the type of Christians that they had known.
As a proponent of many legalistic ideas when I was younger, and then the recipient of misconduct from a fellow believer, it’s frankly not hard to see why some people choose to walk away from Christianity altogether.
Who wants to be a part of a group that turned its back on you when you were a single teen mom who needed their help the most? Or condemned you for not following their checklist of “rules for good behavior.” Or weaponized Jesus’ name, turning Him into a symbol of hatred toward those who don’t share their faith. Or when a person who was supposed to be a safe and trusted spiritual leader abused you?
I am so sorry.
If you’ve been hurt by this type of Christ-follower, or that type of church, I hope that you find solace and strength in Matthew 26. It’s a poignant reminder that the wounds you bear from religious people may be inexcusable, but they also put you in good company. This chapter is the culmination of a building hatred toward Jesus Himself by the devoutly religious of His day, resulting in betrayal, mockery and a farce of a trial by the leaders of His own faith. It’s the secret and rushed plot to kill Him because the leaders of the faith so disliked His words and actions. His betrayer was one of His own disciples, and the rest of His followers scattered in the aftermath of the arrest.
No one understands better than Jesus the pain of betrayal and hate from the very group of people who should best understand faith and love and redemption. It’s frankly uncomfortable to see the parallels between what Christians can sometimes act like today and the actions of the Pharisees and religious leaders of Jesus’ day. People are broken and fallible and sometimes misguided – even in the best-case scenarios where their intentions, at least, start out as good.
Christians are not Christ. When the church fails you, Jesus still remains true. And as for us, His followers, most of us truly want to be a better reflection of Jesus than those people who hurt you. Thanks for giving us another chance. We’ll do our best to live up to His example, ask for forgiveness and grace when we fall short, and continue to pursue Kingdom life together.