I know of a number of people at the moment dealing with the grief resulting from realising that certain beliefs and teachings they based a large part of their lives and actions on may well have been empty. For me the first doctrine to tumble was tithing, for others it might be that their church would look after them; for others it might be the revelation that the pastor(s) they looked up to are human and do not have any greater degree of access to revelation than most anyone else does – this is seen when their teaching or advice is proven foolish in some way. Or there may even be some tangible wrong done that reveals a disillusioning truth.
It seems that frequently the closer to the church hierarchy a person has been, the greater the likelihood of damage. There may be a lot of anger to deal with as part of the grief process. For some people this may be exacerbated by a sense of betrayal or actual betrayal by others they worked with inside the system, or by the organisation itself in terms of a general lack of support when they need it, after years of sacrifice.
My own sense of grief was partly a sense of how terrible it was that people who want to follow Jesus are being taught certain packs of lies in His name, things which bind them up (unknowingly), when He came to set us free. It was grieving to think on the suffering caused by this, and the damage in the lives of certain people.
The reality that scripture teaches does set us free from all these things, but only God can really reveal this to people – it is so contrary to a man-made view of things. Much of this false doctrine seems to be partly a result of churches absorbing a pragmatic approach to scripture, which distorts what it says. It is hard to understand something that turns the human approach to things upside down.
How then do we help those we come across who are in the midst of this grief process? We know that they will not find understanding amongst those who don’t see what they see. It is important that we do all eventually find our way through and out the other side of this process, side by side with Jesus, but it can take a long time. For some it may be a real test of their faith; they lose friends and their church family; they may feel that years of their lives were possibly wasted (though I believe in God this is not necessarily so). They may find themselves walking in a wilderness and feeling very alone. Some may experience condemnation from former friends, or even attacks on their reputation. It is even harder if they have been on staff.
I suppose that I hope places like this one can exist partly so these people can know they are not alone, and acceptance of their pain and experiences will hopefully help in a healing process.
At the end of the day, its about our relationship with Jesus deepening, and encouraging one another in that, in whatever form it takes, I think. He is with us in our sadness, though it may for some feel like He is not there at all. For some of us it is necessary to walk this sad walk, in order to come out the other side and emerge in a much better place for us.
God bless all who are going through this, and I pray that they will find joy and peace again, in it, through it, and once out the other side.