I sometimes hear people say, “I haven’t been back to church since __ (insert embarrassing incident with self or family member).” The reason they haven’t attended church since then is because they have come to believe one of the lies listed below. And when you believe one of these lies, church becomes a scary place you want to avoid.
Let’s correct each of these lies.
No they don’t. Not everyone. Maybe some people know, but everyone? I mean EVERY-one? I don’t think so. Don’t believe that lie. If you catch yourself using that language, stop. Seriously. It’s patently false. Don’t be duped into staying home in shame.
No they don’t. Of those who knew, many if not most have forgotten about the incident. Especially the people who love you. In fact, keeping no record of wrongs is a biblical injunction on the church. God wants his church to forget old wrongs. He is working amongst the members of the church to make us increasingly forgetful of old mistakes. If you can’t count on people to forget, at least count on God to help others forget what embarrasses you.
No they don’t. Of those who knew who still remember…most of them don’t care. This is the wonder of grace and time. I have seen even the most embarrassing sins and mistakes pass out of a group’s consciousness. People don’t care about that incident as much as you think. But people do care about YOU more than you think. Don’t focus on the naysayers. Focus on the empathetic folks at church who care more about you than your junk. They are there if you’re looking.
I know. You’re the exception. (Or is that another lie?)
I get that maybe you really are the one exception. It’s possible. Maybe you go to a tiny, tiny church. And everyone really does know. But even if that’s the case, I am confident not everyone remembers. Or, at the very least, not everyone cares. Not everyone is going to hold it against you.
And maybe you do need some time to heal. Maybe you need some time for things to die down. I understand. That’s legit. But my point is this: Don’t succumb to the “always,” “everyone,” “no one,” “never,” “forever,” “everybody” exaggerative thinking of our enemy.
Everyone is not everyone.
I don’t know how many times over the years “everyone” has turned out to be “few.” More times than I can count. Often I have heard someone tell me, “Everyone is upset/concerned/worried about ________.” And for years, I would fret over each unknown and apparently huge crowd. But now, I recognize this lie better and fall for it less.
When someone says “everyone” or “a lot of people,” I immediately say, “Who? Name them for me.” And do you know what I find? Ten times out of ten, I find “everyone” and “a lot” is two or three people. No joke.
So I’m asking you…come back to your local church. I’m asking you to trust me…it’s not as bad as you think/feel/imagine. “Everyone” isn’t everyone.
Come back. We need you. And that’s the truth. God says so (1 Corinthians 12:7).
Come back. It’s been far too long.