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OPINION

Are you a 'believer in exile' -- I invite you to try God, again

 

Have you tried God? 

Did you used to go to church? 

Why aren’t you going to church now? 

Without implying you are a statistic, research indicates that 83% of all American adults consider themselves to be Christian, but the majority of them are unchurched.

Why?

The primary reason people avoid church, pollsters say, even though they consider themselves Christian, is because of wounds they have received within the family of faith.

Has that been your experience? Is that why you are hanging out on the periphery of God’s people?

I understand. I, too, have been driven from church fellowship by wounds that were inflicted on me by other church members.

The primary reason people avoid church, pollsters say, even though they consider themselves Christian, is because of wounds they have received within the family of faith. 

I have found myself living as a “believer in exile,” not running from God, but tired of putting up with those who call themselves by His name, yet behave in an ungodly manner.

Jesus understands, too. It never ceases to amaze me that the most vicious lies, the most violent attacks, the ultimate rejection of Jesus, came not from the Romans or the Greeks or the pagans or the secularists, but from Israelites who were considered, by themselves and others, the children of God. God’s people.

One primary reason I have not forsaken my own Christian faith is that I know Jesus “gets it.” He was literally wounded…crucified…by very religious people who considered themselves God’s representatives on earth, but were nothing of the sort. They were wicked, sinful pretenders.

So I refuse to let religious phonies destroy my heart for the One who loves me, who understands and feels my pain, and who draws close to me when I am wounded. I refuse to be robbed of life’s greatest treasure—a personal, permanent, passionate relationship with God through faith in Jesus, and the healing of wounds that He offers.

As painful and devastating as wounds inflicted by God’s people can be, they have made me more determined to authentically live out what I believe.

I am deeply motivated to know God. I want to know Him as He truly is, not through the distorted reflection of those who call themselves by His name. And I want to make Him known to others as accurately, winsomely, clearly, and compellingly as I can.

And God is knowable. He has declared that He is light. (1 John 1:5) Since one of the primary characteristics of light is that it makes itself visible, God is saying He has made Himself visible.

He can be clearly seen in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. And He can be seen in the pages of the unique revelation of Himself, which we call the Bible.

If your focus in on the people of God, the Light can seem dim or even dark. So don’t look at them. Look at Him.

Try God…again.

Anne Graham Lotz, is author of ten books. Her latest is "Wounded by God's People: Discovering How God's Love Heals Our Hearts." She is president and CEO of AnGel Ministries, a non-profit organization that undergirds her efforts to draw people into a life-changing relationship with God through his World. Lotz is the daughter of Billy and Ruth Graham.