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Just Choose Jesus: Betrayal and the Church

If this is your first visit here and you would like to get caught up, these links will help you do that! The companion journal that goes hand-in-hand with this series is my thank you gift when you subscribe to receive Searching for Moments posts directly to your inbox. (along with all the other hope-giving resources found in the Library of Hope!)

7 Truths to Remember When Betrayal Invades Your Life | Series | encouragement, strategies, resources by Lori Schumaker

  1.  An overview. What are the 7 truths?
  2. Betrayal and the Guilt Left Behind 
  3. Who Am I?  The Truth about Identity and Betrayal
  4. Unconditional Acceptance that Life Really Isn’t Fair (with a fun 17-Scripture printable set of cards)
  5. Revenge Is Not the Answer to Betrayal (with a printable prayer)
  6. The Lessons We Learn from the Vantage Point of Today (with 14 Statements of Strength)
  7. Why We Can’t Let Betrayal Keep Us Stuck: Choosing to Live Again
But now for today….

The warmth inside suddenly felt cold. The peace that fell upon your shoulders each time you walked through the doors, now resembled anxiety. Your heart heavy. Your joy no longer there.

You had served with passion and felt excited as you contributed to the ministry within your church. It was your happy place. Your safe place.

But someone within the church had changed that. Someone you trusted had betrayed you.

Now trust was no longer within you nor was your desire to serve and be a part of the community.

So you left. You said, “Enough of the Church. I don’t need it to love Jesus.”

But as I look into your eyes, I’m pressed to ask you a question. “Are you loving Jesus and growing closer to Him as you walk? Or have you fallen away?”

Because, my friends, it’s not about the Church building at all. Rather, it’s all about the Jesus you follow after as you lean in to worship Him.

So, I say to you

Just choose Jesus.

Just Choose Jesus: Betrayal and the Church | What do we do when we have been hurt by the Church? - Lori Schumaker

 

Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 NLT

I recently read a statistic that said there are 22 million people in the United States who claim their faith matters significantly, but yet have walked away from the Church because of a hurt encountered there.

We have too many wounded believers limping through life not experiencing the full transformation available in the Name of Jesus! And the sad fact is that they are limping from the wounds inflicted upon them from within the walls of the Church. The very Church that is meant to spread the light and love of Jesus to the world, to equip believers as disciples, and to be a safe place, a sanctuary for the broken-hearted and weary.

It’s a sad statistic, but friends, it makes all the sense in the world to me.

We are the walking wounded. Struck by the world in which we live. We are seeking safety and because we know that in the arms of Jesus, we find safety, we assume the Church and the arms of Jesus are the same. When betrayal happens in the Church, we are caught off guard and disillusioned. We ask ourselves, “How could it happen here?”

But where else would the enemy love more to strike? The Church has the potential to do great things for God and for His children. Therefore it is the enemy’s prime target. He wants nothing more than to drive a spear through the heart of the church, divide it, and watch it fall.

And let’s look at what Jesus says. He doesn’t say once you are saved you will never sin again. We are all sinners, whether saved or not. We will still slip up and fall short. That is why we need Him

Every. Single. Day.

But if we are all still sinners falling short, we must realize that the Church is still filled with sinners, too. If there was betrayal within the select group of 12 that Jesus chose as His disciples, how can there not be betrayal within our churches today?

Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priests and asked, “How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?” And they gave him thirty pieces of silver. From that time on, Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus. Matthew 26: 14-16 NLT

If we search, we will find treasures. Among those who allow selfishness to lead their lives, we will find the ones living a life lead by the Holy Spirit. A life fueled by love and sacrifice.

Just Choose Jesus: Betrayal and the Church | What do we do when we have been hurt by the Church? - Lori Schumaker

When we are estranged from the church, we miss out on those people. The ones getting it right. We miss out on the ones who will reach out, sacrifice, and love us. The ones who will reach across, hold our hand, and pray on our behalf. The ones who will come alongside us in our darkest moments to lend a physical or spiritual hand.

And we will miss out on opportunities to just choose Jesus.

Those people getting it right are the ones Jesus will use to sharpen, grow, and love us. Among them will be the unique opportunities to build our relationship with Him.

If we leave the church because of who is getting it wrong, we miss out on those getting it right ... #hope #justchoosejesus #church Click To Tweet

Growing in relationship with anyone means getting to know them well. I think of my mom and dad who have been married for 62 years. Their relationship takes my breath away. The way they love each other. Understand each other. Know each other’s very thoughts. It didn’t happen right away, though. With every year they grow closer and love more. It took time, talking together, experiencing the ups and downs of life together, arguing and laughing.

That’s how we choose Jesus. We have to stay in close communion with Him. Learning about Him through our own experiences and through the experiences of others. When we know Him through reading His word and then see His redeeming love in action, we grow in relationship.

I love my church. It provides a place to find those people getting it right and it gives me the opportunities to see my good Father in action.  It keeps me from getting lazy with my faith and pushes me to know Jesus more each day. Even in churches where I was hurt, I still carry deep relationships with some of those people who were getting it right.

It’s as though God seals those friendships born out of pure hearts and a thirst for Him.

Your choosing Jesus may look different from mine. It may be a large building, a small building, or an area without walls. It may be thousands, hundreds, or a handful of believers. That doesn’t matter.

But what does matter is choosing Jesus.

Just Choose Jesus: Betrayal and the Church | What do we do when we have been hurt by the Church? - Lori Schumaker

In your current setting, are you growing closer to Him? Are you walking a life that reflects His love? His glory? His righteousness? Are you following where He is leading? If not, this whole thing of Church is pointless and I pray you will make changes and choose Jesus.

I know your journey is exactly that – your journey. If your hurt is so big it caused you to walk away from the Church, my heart grieves with you. I am so sorry for that travesty.  I wish I could reach through these words on your screen and give you a hug. And I know Jesus weeps with you. Your hurt grieves Him and the betrayal enrages Him. I know that His desire was and is for a church that lifts up, loves, encourages, empowers, teaches and disciples others to become the best Jesus follower they can be.

But I can encourage you only by saying, don’t give up hope. God has a community of believers for you. When you choose Jesus, He will open and close the doors guiding you to where He calls you. As you search for that place where you can choose Jesus, I believe there are some truths to keep in mind that will help the process of engaging in a Church community. I’ve come up with 7 of them, but I would love for you to share others you have found helpful!

7 tips for engaging in a church community #hope #betrayal #relationships Click To Tweet

Just Choose Jesus : Betrayal and the Church

A Prayer

Dear Jesus,

Thank You for creating the Church. You wired us for community and knew that we would need fellow believers to cheer us along life’s road and help us stay true to Your path. You are the head of the Church and Your desire is that it be a place to worship You and serve others in love. But our sin messes all that up.

Within our churches are those who come fueled with envy and rivalry. They are members of leadership and of the body. Lord, I ask You to protect our leaders from the attacks of the enemy. I know full well that he would love nothing more than to stop them from increasing Your Name and bringing forth new believers. He would love to see their character slashed and their motives destroyed. But I pray for Your hedge of protection around our leader, Pastors, and their families. I also pray for a spirit of discernment within our leadership as they hire new staff and as they raise up new servant ministers. Let their spirits be sensitive to divisive or corrupt spirits that have come with wrong motives.

Protect the humble of spirit. Protect those who want nothing more than to serve and love You with their heart, soul, and mind. For those who have been hurt, I ask for their healing right now and that, in the Name of Jesus, they be freed from the chains of betrayal. That the enemy does not win by keeping them out of the church and out of community. Above all, I ask that You impress upon our hearts and minds that our focus be choosing You. I thank You for Your grace, Your hope, and Your redemption. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen

When you are hurt by the Church and don't know which way to turn-Just Choose Jesus. #betrayal #hope #chooseJesus Click To Tweet





 

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41 Comments

  1. What a beautiful concept. I love your blog- so gorgeous. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Kelsie, Thank you for visiting and for your kind words!

  2. Wow Lori, this is a thorough exploration of one of the most difficult issues facing the church..people leaving (I was shocked by the statistic!)..You offer such solid reasons to stay, the tremendous good the church offers, and the people ‘who are doing it right’ are weaved in and out of the weeds of those within the church broken..
    I left the church not because of betrayal, but because I felt like an outsider walking through minefields of people judging those who aren’t believers..it grieves me deeply. I hope to find a church where I do belong and with not so many minefields. It got too exhausting, I wasn’t being filled. .I’m reaching out now on my blog to people who don’t believe, or those hurt by the church..I hope I can be a light. Your post makes me remember the good in the church, the many blessings. You offer a wonderful ministry here!

    1. Hi Kathy, You most definitely are a light! Your ministry through your blog encourages so many. I am so sorry for your experiences. I think that type of hurt is a type of betrayal. As you walked through each of those doors in search of the love and acceptance that a body of believers is called to offer, you were betrayed. They were pretending to be something they were not. I am thankful that you still chose Jesus. Sweet sister, there are those churches with wonderful people in them. However, maybe you are called to have your own home church with a small group of trusted believers. It may look different. Or maybe, God will redeem His Church in and through your life and lead you to a healthy church where there are no minefields and you instead are filled with His nourishment. In the meantime, I am thankful to have been connected to your community here online. You are a blessing!

  3. So important to remember that while people disappoint us Jesus is unfailing. Loving the community of Christ with an open heart isn’t easy but is so valuable!

    1. Amen! He is unfailing! Thank you, Angela, for visiting today!
      Blessings and smiles,
      Lori

  4. Thank you, Lori, for bringing this to light. I know there are many who hurt because of church betrayal. I have not yet come to feel safe and supported in a church community. I was sexually and spiritually abused by a minister while I was a youth, and I was branded as the one who led the poor minister of God astray. We have tried several different churches, but some other betrayal would happen, or I would be triggered into bad memories. Now more often than not, going to church drops me into depression. But I still have Jesus. I feel safe with Him. And He is helping me to open myself up to the online community. And step by step He is healing me deeper. I love Him so very much, and I could never have gotten to this moment without Him. He never, ever betrays or abandons us. May God fill your heart with His peace and love in this Advent season!

    1. Oh, Trudy. my heart aches so deeply for your hurt. I cannot even fathom the pain you have endured. And I must tell you, I can 100% understand why you still do not feel comfortable and safe in a church. Your situation is exactly why I couldn’t write a post that said X amount of reasons you must find a church. Honey, you just need to choose Jesus and it sounds like that is exactly like what you are doing. The online community is a community of believers to keep you growing, to love you, and to pray for you. I pray you can find a few trusted people in your life that can be physically near you as well. I will be praying continually for you – for the chains of fear and distrust to be broken off of you and for satan to bound and stripped of any power in your life. Much love, my friend. Please know that I would be honored to be a part of your community of believers!

  5. Wow, what an amazing post about a hard topic to write about. Satan loves to divide us doesn’t he? I love how you mention that people could miss out on the ones who would love them and be there for them. We must go to church for Jesus…to love Him, grow in our faith..and to learn to love others and fellowship with other believers. Once again, I love how God leads me to you…you’re my neighbor at Ra Ra Link up today. Love you my sister in Christ!

    1. Hi Val! Love you back!!! And am so thankful for you!

  6. So true, and your title says it all “Just choose Jesus”. He alone is the answer to all of the problems that we face. #sharewithme

    1. Thank you for visitng, Fatima, and AMEN! He is the answer every. single. time. 🙂

  7. I say the church is imperfect because it’s composed of imperfect people. But, Jesus came not for the perfect, for the well, but for the sinner, for the sick. It is like a hospital, but for the souls.

  8. Hey Lori,
    I couldn’t resist pinning the lovely list on how to engage in your church. Many times we expect so much from our local churches yet give so little too.
    This post is very timely as the enemy is tricking a lot of people out of their faith by telling them they do not need the church. He tells them to pack up and leave when things do not go as they hoped or planned.
    Yet God created His church to be family… You do not change family like you would change clothes…
    Many thanks for touching on this subject matter. Being a Church minister myself, I have gained more information on how to councel offended brehtren.
    From WW, do have a super blessed day!
    Love

    1. Hi Ugochi, Welcome! Thank you for your kind comments. I always know there are both sides of this story. There are those who pack and go upon the first disagreement, but there are those who are invested and serving with a pure heart who are hurt or betrayed by others representing the church. I pray these words ministered to the hearts of both! Thank you for your heart to shepherd your flock. I will be praying for your heart and your leadership because I know you are the enemy’s aim. I am honored that you gained more information through my message! God bless!

  9. This is a beautiful post. I’m not sure what I could say that hasn’t already been said. I really enjoyed this post and will have to catch up on what I missed. 🙂

    Blessings,
    Chellie

    1. Hi Chellie,
      You are so sweet! Thank you! I’d love to have you visit and catch up! Blessings!

  10. Dear Lori,

    I just went through your betrayal series and they have helped me tremendously! Before my mother passed; I went through a betrayal from my family. I have sacrificed and worked for years to try to help them function. I thought I didn’t have any thoughts of revenge or bitterness; but I would have ugly little thoughts that would enter my mind like it would serve them right if I did something well or show them up. I now know these thoughts came from my flesh and now I pray for the family members who hurt me. I am now estranged from my family and despite that I feel blessed. I am now 54 yrs old and have discovered the joy of having bounderies. (it feels incredibly safe!) The strength of saying no when necessary and knowing that family doesn’t mean you have to be related by blood.

    Your series let me know that I was not stupid or a loser because of their betrayal and it wasn’t my fault. I want to thank you for that. I hope that you will stay blessed and that you remain a blessing in your wisdom.

    1. Hi Ola,
      I cannot even begin to tell you how touched I was by your comment. I am humbled and thankful that God would use me to communicate His hope, healing, and love! I am so proud of you and the work you have done. Walking in freedom is a HUGE thing! Can you hear me shouting ‘Hallelujah’ all the way from here?!! And let me just confirm, you are not stupid or a loser – you are amazing, and wonderful, and treasured by the most high God of the Universe!
      Thank you so very much for sharing this and blessing me so tremendously!
      Blessings and smiles,
      Lori

  11. I have only read the last installment in the series but find that its message probably sums up the intent of the series, choosing Jesus.. right? 🙂 I had to go back and read a section a few times, because you spoke a beautiful truth… a deep penetrating truth…” When we are estranged from the church, we miss out on those people. The ones getting it right. ” That is profound, Lori, and so pivotal.
    The world sees us a hypocrites, to be honest. They see the legalism and point it out rightly. But we are missing the power of choosing Jesus and reminding ourselves and others that getting it right means continuing to put one foot in front of the other… as imperfect as it may be. 🙂
    Thanks for this necessary reminder.
    Blessings,
    Dawn

    1. You are so right, Dawn! Choosing Jesus leads us to hope, healing, and freedom. Being a part of a community of believers keeps us sharp, keeps us focused on Jesus, and leads us to those ones getting it right. I know the hurt is deep when it happens in the church, but I also feel the blessing is even deeper. Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts! I hope to continue to connect!
      Blessings and smiles,
      Lori

  12. Lori, you sure get to the heart of the matter, don’t you? LOL We stopped attending our church, although we loved it, because we too reached out for help and were turned down, time and time again. I realize that there are so many people in need, but we attended for 5+ years and really needed help. And we decided that we would worship ourselves and lean on God to get through these times, and now i feel closer than ever. God is beside me all day long, we chat, laugh, cry together. I have always, my whole life belonged to a church, but when religion is more important than God we had to step away. Perhaps someday we will be able to find a church that embodies Christ, or at least tries really hard to show grace. I want people to say when I die that I “lived my church”. Not that I sat in a pew. In fact, this is one of my life mottos and I try really hard each day to live the way I was put here to live. Thanks, as always, for making me think and open my heart! I hold not grudges, there’s no time for that, is there?

    1. Hi Nikki 🙂 Yup, I’m kinda sorta a get to the heart kinda girl 🙂 I’m so sorry for the hurt you experienced. It must have multiplied the pain you were already experiencing. It happens way too often and I understand your choice. I know that you have an online community of believers as well and share the hope and love of Christ through your blog. In today’s world, it can provide some of the missing links. Maybe someday you will find a church, or maybe it will be a small home-based church of only a handful of believers you trust and who hold you accountable. Right now, though, you are living out life in a way that would honor God – you are reaching out, loving others, and sharing Him. That is pretty darn awesome if you ask me!
      Blessings and smiles, my friend!
      Lori

  13. Lori, I needed this. It’s not about the people or the building – it’s about Jesus! Thank you for sharing with Thankful Thursdays.

    1. Thank you so much, Lori! I am thankful you take the time to visit each week. You rock! (my 13-year-old has rubbed off on me ;-))

  14. Hi Lori, I have been hurt deeply too! I appreciate the list and I did pin it!
    Lowering expectations is one key…
    Thank you for the persistence in sharing this Betrayal series.
    Many Blessings to you, friend

    1. Hi Ifeoma, Whew! God taught me a lot through this series. Persisting through until the end felt so good because it was so difficult! Lol! Your affirmation warms my heart, so thank you!
      Blessings and smiles,
      Lori

  15. Thank you for representing the beauty of Christ’s Church in this post. We have been hurt a little by the church and since then moved several times and struggled to find a church home. Through our trials we have placed the importance on our relationship with Christ as the priority and believe He will lead us to a church home after our next move coming up!

    1. Oh, wow, Sarah! It is so tough to move and find a new church home, much less having to do it several times! My prayers are going to be for you, my friend. Asking the Lord to guide your steps to just the right place right away!
      Blessings and smiles,
      Lori

  16. Great post. I am thankful that you have opened discussion on this. We are all sinners, and we are wounded. Yes, let us keep our eyes on Jesus. He is able to help us forgive. The Holy Spirit is able to help us speak up when we are hurt and
    need to confront someone with grace. (Not that I am good at this–prayer helps–an area where I continue to learn.) Sometimes we need to find a new community of believers, a new church. Your seven suggestions are excellent.

    At this time we desperately need the Church to be a light to the world.

    1. Amen, Carol! We do need the Church to be a light to the world! Thank you for your kind words and for joining the discussion!
      Blessings and smiles,
      Lori

  17. I stopped going to church for a time. Not because anyone betrayed me but I had a bad feeling and I couldn’t put my finger on it. Plus I couldn’t verbalize the feeling which caused more frustration. I thought it was me. Fortunately I wasn’t alone in my feelings and a couple folks were asked to leave. Time healed us. God healed us!

    1. Praise God for His healing! I am so thankful that you persisted and chose Him! I always say God speaks to me in the space right behind my belly. That is when I have those ‘feelings’ as you did. I have learned to pay attention and heed those warnings because they usually end up being true! Thank you so much for visiting and continuing the discussion, Carrie. I love seeing your smile here!

  18. What a powerful post, Lori! I really appreciate your honesty and the way that you point people back toward Jesus, toward relationships, and toward trying to connect again!

    I’m going to share your post this week on my Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/MinistryofHopeMelanieRedd/

    I found your post today on Social Butterfly.

    Hope you have a blessed day~
    Melanie

    1. Thank you so much for sharing this post on Facebook, Melanie! I am so glad you enjoyed the post and found truth. Focusing on Jesus is so easy, but yet so difficult! Focusing on Him is where the answers lie 🙂
      I apologize for the late response! I am running behind bigtime! EEEEk!

  19. It’s been a lovely series and hope you have a lovely holiday ahead with friends and family. Thank you ever so much for linking up to Share With Me #sharewithme

    1. Jenny, I hope your Christmas is filled with lots of love, oodles of joy, and bundles of laughter! Much love, Lori

  20. You’ve written much wisdom for us here. I particularly appreciate your point that if Jesus’ own tribe of twelve went through a season of betrayal, how can we expect any less from groups of Christ-followers today? I think your list is fantastic, and I agree with your emphasis on lowering expectations and granting grace to each other. It’s easy to fall into the trap of expecting lavish grace from others when we don’t extend it to them in the same way. Thank you for sharing this with us at Grace & Truth!

    1. Hi Jennifer, Thank you so much for visiting from Grace and Truth and thank you for your kind words! Relationships are tough whether they are in our families, our churches, or our communities. I think we have to be award that simply just are those who will intentionally and unintentionally betray us. Then, keep our eyes on Jesus – learn from Him on how to handle that fact. So easy, but yet so difficult because of our human emotions and shortcomings!
      Blessings and smiles,
      Lori

  21. Hi!

    Your honesty and exposure of such an issue is needed. Thank you for obeying God and allowing Him to use you to address it in a gracious and Christ-centered manner. God bless. – Keturah

  22. Hi Lori,
    I have been praying for this kind of topic. What you wrote in your blog it is true. That is what I have been going through my whole life. Lori posts have helped me a lot. Been praying for help in this area of my life. And I thank God for for answering my prayers. It brings joy to my heart. I hope it is not to late to start this Just Choose Jesus Betrayal.

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