Stories of people wounded within the Church always break my heart. The details of some of those stories are so horrific that they can fill me with anger over the sin that exists behind the walls of the very places we assume should offer safety. I am painfully reminded on a regular basis that the Church isn't exempt from either the trouble or the sin of this fallen world.
But as I counsel wounded people through the hurt they've experienced, I never want their stories of pain to taint my view of the beauty of the Church. When they tell me they are no longer desirous of worshiping with other believers in a local assembly, I don't chastise them or make them believe that their choice somehow isolates them from God's power to do His healing work of grace. I don't put a weight of guilt on them that minimizes the pain they've experienced or fails to acknowledge the fear that resides within their heart. But I do encourage them to consider the fact that if God loves His Church enough to have given us the promise that His preserving arm of love will never allow the gates of hell to prevail against it, surely He has the power to preserve its beauty in the face of those who have sinned against them.
Just like the world, the Church is filled with sinners who don't come with any foolproof guarantee of safety. But Jesus Christ does come with that guarantee, and His Church is filled with His beloved, blood-bought children who are enjoying the power of His training grace and the promise of His daily dispensed mercy. Messy redeemed children who, as they gather for worship, are beholding the beauty of the Lord and being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory.
"Jesus is our Safety. Even the Church can be a painful, hurtful, and scary place. But it is, nonetheless, a place where we meet Safety and the cry of our childlike longing is answered with comfort.
We live in an ugly and complicated world. Everybody we know is potentially hurtful. There is only one Person who is totally and completely safe and harmless, but He is great and holy and powerful. So to be safe with Him is to come to Him on his terms. Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be safe.
You do not attend church to find safety in people. You attend church to be with people who have found safety in Jesus, hurt and hurtful though they may be." Pastor Bob Bixby