1 Samuel 2:12-17 ESV Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the LORD. (13) The custom of the priests with the people was that when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come, while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand, (14) and he would thrust it into the pan or kettle or cauldron or pot. All that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they did at Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. (15) Moreover, before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give meat for the priest to roast, for he will not accept boiled meat from you but only raw.” (16) And if the man said to him, “Let them burn the fat first, and then take as much as you wish,” he would say, “No, you must give it now, and if not, I will take it by force.” (17) Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the LORD, for the men treated the offering of the LORD with contempt.
With some frequency, abuse victims/survivors tell me that because of their oppressive experience in a local church, they find it very difficult to read their Bible or to participate in the singing of hymns or to even enter into a church building. This is not because they are somehow harboring hatred in their hearts for those who sorely treated them, but because a local church, a place that is to be a sanctuary for the true worship and worshippers of God, traumatized them. How? Here are some ways:
- The church leadership allying with the abuser, even allowing him to continue to participate in or lead worship.
- Reading scripture and then twisting it so as to teach the doctrines of men that enslave.
- Money. Real offerings to the Lord are turned into things to be used by selfish wicked people building their own kingdoms.
I know some of this myself. While we now have a wonderful group (a handful here) of genuine believers in our church – by the way the numbers are increasing because people are joining with us as online members – I know something of this “scandalizing” the worship of God. Every time I walk into our church building, I still feel it – all those times of attack from wicked people in years past so that there literally is not a room in that building where such evil did not do its thing at one time or another. That building itself will never be “home sweet home” for me.
But now extrapolate my experience to what so many of you have been on the receiving end of in a local church. In some cases you were there for decades, faithfully serving the Lord, but when you exposed the abuse you were receiving, the whole thing turned on you. So what is inevitably going to happen? The Scriptures, the preaching, the pulpit, the pews, the hymn books, and the “saints” are going to become a source of triggering the trauma. Those objects and practices become trip wires that make you go through the train wreck over and over.
Now, there is healing from this. One day when we are with Christ, it will all be gone. But even now as we remove ourselves from those evil places and people, the day will eventually come when we can sing again, hear God’s Word again, read our Bibles again, and fellowship with believers (I won’t say “again” to this last item because maybe as it turns out we weren’t with real believers before!).
What will the Lord do to false shepherds and false sheep who scandalized His worship and so terrorized His true flock so that they were hindered from coming into His house?
Note: And once again I want to say that this all is the very reason we have started the online outreach of Christ Reformation Church, inviting Christ’s true people to come and join us via the livestreaming of services and classes and Bible studies and email communications. We really do want you to be able to have a church home where you are safe and where Christ really is present.
Psalms 24:3-5 ESV Who shall ascend the hill of the LORD? And who shall stand in his holy place? (4) He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully. (5) He will receive blessing from the LORD and righteousness from the God of his salvation.