Do not let the sun go down on your anger

Church can be a wonderful place to fellowship and build relationships with other Christian believers. With others who share the same faith as us, we tend to be emboldened, encouraged, inspired, motivated; we feel loved, accepted, cared for.  

However, there's another side to church that, if your not in the in-crowd, you see plenty of. I have been in church all my life, and honestly, like many, I have a different outlook on it as a whole. Truth be told, it's not always optimistic. Some would even say I have a "bad attitude towards church". Maybe so, but I always let it be known that while I may not favor church, but that doesn't mean I don't love my God.

Growing up, I have always been on the other side of this "fellowship" and "building relationship" deal. The churches I've gone to were unfriendly and unaccepting. They never showed love, acceptance, and never greeted those who were new (unless it was the pastor as he stood smugly at the podium).

I suppose you could say I am afraid of church. I have vivid memories of the ruthlessness that was bestowed upon me there. The memories still jab at me with the same intensity as if it happened to me just yesterday. 

Forgive and forget, right? Um, not my forte.

I was like the runt of the litter. Someone people found easy to bully and push around. True. I was almost desperate  to have a close relationship with someone my age. So desperate was I that I was willing to take a lot from people. In  my little eyes, it was better than being friendless altogether.   
“Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you."—Matthew 5:10-12

But after a while I got tired of being everyone's 'punching bag'. I was done with being the door mat, the person everyone could run over and deploy all of their frustration and hatred on. Although I was sick of it all, I still took it like a sap. I was so desperate to have a friend. So desperate to be accepted and loved.

And then, after years of being pushed around and trying to hang on to something that wasn't there, I shut down. I drowned others out, became introverted and hateful. For a long time I have been friendless. I have avoided getting to know people because I was afraid to get hurt again. And I wasn't going to let that happen. No. Not this time.  

"Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger"--Ephesians 4:26 ( ESV)

I have realized over the years that I can't hide. I can't let this hate and pain I have been harboring to control me. If I didn't let go of all that is hurting me (the things that those people wouldn't remember) and move on, I was never going to be happy, and I was never going to be an effective Christian for Christ.  
 "I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice."--Ezekiel 34:16

Church itself  is not my enemy. It is not what has caused me pain. It is the dealings that went on in the church that did. While we all think that Christians are supposed to be loving and caring of each other, it has become obvious to me that as Christians we are so selfish and unreceptive to those unlike us.

How could this be? How could we be apart of God's loving warmth and still be so cold? 

We're human. It's our sinful nature that always seems to get the best of us...even when we're on guard.

This year, I am going to try to be more open to friendships, and less scared of what the future may hold. But, I am also going to pray for the Church. We need to wake up and pay more attention to the people inside our church and less on those around the world. 

I'm not saying that missions to the Bahamas or Africa aren't good, but how are we ever going to be effective if we don't start at home? Starting with our stewardship. If we can't make a newcomer, or even someone that's been a church goer for ages, feel comfortable and accepted, how are we going to make a difference elsewhere? Lets be the Body of Christ for a change. No more pretending. No more Stain Glass Masquerade. 
"For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell?
But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. 
But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together."--1 Corinthians 12:12-27


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