Shunned

Whoever is not with me is against me,and whoever does not gather with me scatters.                                                                                                                             – Matthew 12:30

Message pastors are now telling their congregations to have nothing to do with anyone who leaves the message, an ex-believer is now their enemy.

This is devastating.  This is wrong.

Yet, I assure you it is happening. 

Families who are neighbors living next door to one another wait to check their mailbox until the coast is clear.  Restaurants are surveyed before entering.  Parking lots are checked for familiar vehicles.

You might run into someone you have known for 20 years at the grocery store, you’ve ate together, you’ve stayed at their house, their kid was in your wedding.  Now they avoid eye contact and duck the other way.  

It hurts.  A lot.

Telling my children they couldn’t see their friends anymore was hard.  It wasn’t my choice, I invited and invited and invited. They declined every single time.  Months have passed, it’s like we never existed.

My kids don’t understand.  They ask me, “Mommy why can’t they come over to play? Are they sick?”  

I told them the truth and  I watched their little faces form emotions of confusion and sadness.  “But mommy, we still love Jesus.”

“Yes. Yes we do.”

My kids have gone through phases pretending their little friends are coming for a visit.  They get everything set up only to walk away.  They start to ask if their friend can come over to play with a new toy and stop mid-sentence to say, “Never mind.”

You have moments when you are out shopping and you see something that you know a friend would like.  You find a recipe you want to make and invite them over to try.  Mostly, you just ache to talk to them.  You want to pour your heart out and tell them how hard this is.  

You need them and they have shut themselves off from you.

I miss my friends.  I miss having a cup of coffee and chatting.  I miss their Facebook posts.  I miss seeing pictures of their kids and hearing what they are up to.

I’ve had to ask myself, were they really my friend at all or was I just a convenient choice because we had “so much in common”?

You fight depression and complexes.  You think maybe if you were more _______ they would still want to be your friend.  If you hadn’t done ___________ your kids would still have their playmates.

You wonder, why they haven’t came to your aid, bringing you the answers that comfort them? 

Slowly your friend count begins to drop.  The invites stop coming and you are now the subject of the latest “news”.

“Did you hear the ______ family left?  Can you believe it!?  No, I haven’t seen her yet! Do you think she’s cut her hair?  You know it’s coming, they always do.  Mmm-hmm, pants too.”

And on it goes.  No phone calls, no emails asking why you have not been to church.  Silent assumption greets you.  

I have to admit this offends me even still.  Did not Jesus say we are to leave and go after the one lost sheep?  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not lost.  But they think I am, so why didn’t they come find me?

Jesus said He wouldn’t loose one of his.  Not one.

You go ahead and shun me.  Take me off of your friend list.  Ignore my emails, leave the restaurant I’m sitting in, exit the grocery aisle I’m standing in, that’s fine.  I won’t pretend it doesn’t hurt, though I try to.  I want you to know, I’ll be right here when you need me.

Matthew 10

“When people realize it is the living God you are presenting and not some idol that makes them feel good, they are going to turn on you, even people in your own family. There is a great irony here: proclaiming so much love, experiencing so much hate! But don’t quit. Don’t cave in. It is all well worth it in the end. It is not success you are after in such times but survival. Be survivors! Before you’ve run out of options, the Son of Man will have arrived.”

“Don’t be intimidated. Eventually everything is going to be out in the open, and everyone will know how things really are. So don’t hesitate to go public now.

 “Don’t be bluffed into silence by the threats of bullies. There’s nothing they can do to your soul, your core being. Save your fear for God, who holds your entire life—body and soul—in his hands.”

“Stand up for me against world opinion and I’ll stand up for you before my Father in heaven. If you turn tail and run, do you think I’ll cover for you?

“Don’t think I’ve come to make life cozy. I’ve come to cut—make a sharp knife-cut between son and father, daughter and mother, bride and mother-in-law—cut through these cozy domestic arrangements and free you for God. Well-meaning family members can be your worst enemies. If you prefer father or mother over me, you don’t deserve me. If you prefer son or daughter over me, you don’t deserve me.

“If you don’t go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don’t deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you’ll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you’ll find both yourself and me.”  -The Message

7 thoughts on “Shunned

  1. dear sister,
    For all you saints out there who have experienced this kind of abuse,i highly recomend the free book online by Ronald Enroth Phd,titled:Recovering From Churches That Abuse.One of many sites that have this book is : (www.ccel.us/churchesrec.toc.html )This book was a big help to me when i first left my former church,an independant fundamentalist baptist church in the midwest.There are multitudes of churches from all denominations who are teaching various errors,but try and leave and now you are the enemy.Finding another church will not be easy,and please dont be quick to join.There is much to learn yet about christendom at large,and its not a pretty picture.May God bless you and yours.
    David L

  2. “A messy house is a must – it separates your true friends from other friends.
    Real friends are there to visit you not your house!”
    ― Jennifer Wilson
    “Perhaps there really is a good that exists; for a century of darkness to be eschewed by a single flame; for a decade of evil done to the heart to be undone by simple and unplanned acts of kindness! There must be a goodness, after all! But we don’t find it when we’re looking for it; not in church, not in a cathedral, not even in our own homes! We find it when we’ve fallen down so hard, are downtrodden so low; and there is one true friend who picks us up; or one random person who takes us in! And we realize goodness was never in the places we thought it was! It was all along in the most humble of places: bound up in the heart of a true friend.”
    ― C. JoyBell C.
    Head Up.. You never fell down.You didn’t stumble. You choose to step away from. Parrots and puppets love Only Believe it keeps them deceived.

  3. I think most in the Message have been in or are in their shoes. I remember writing a nasty letter to a friend that had confessed “a sin” to me. Instead of being Christlike and loving them and being there for them. I condemned them. I think about how my family treated my grandfather’s death and following piano dedication at his “heathen lodge.” I’ve since apologized to my grandmother for my family’s actions. It’s sad. I just keep praying for them to see the Jesus of the Bible. Not the Jesus of Branham.

  4. I’m so sorry Emily. I too was once in their shoes, not accepting of those who chose a different path. I look back at those moments and regret “me”. Love is always unconditional. We should never judge a person or treat them based on our own personal convictions or sets of rules. I thank our Lord Jesus, He has graciously opened my eyes to see I needed more of Him and less of me.

  5. That is so true. It might be a daunting at first, but finding a church is a great leap in the healing process. Encouraging the children to make new friends and reach outside of their comfort zone is great. I’ve found for my own children, this is best done as we lead the way. They are constantly looking to us for that “nod of approval”. It’s been awkward at times to say “Yes, this is okay, go, ahead, enjoy!” But I love that little spark of joy the moment they do. The excitement of, “Can we do this again?” has been music to my ears.

  6. Wow. Even after leaving in 2001, this is still something I run in to. Even within my own family. It’s sad since I follow Jesus with my heart and life. But I wear pants and cut my hair. Within the past year I was at a social gathering where I saw one of my old friends. I smiled and said hi. She looked at me briefly before turning around and walking away. Too bad everyone doesn’t read Acts 15. Are we taking Jesus or our culture? In other cultures I travel to I wear skirts, but should I mention tops are completely optional? But there is a great Corrie Ten Boom quote that I love and helped me through the beginning pain of the shunning “You may never know Jesus is all you need, until Jesus is all you have.”

    Well, actually, too bad everyone doesn’t read their WHOLE Bible.

  7. Well said… well said. Those scriptures are a great comfort, and also finding a good Christian church is important. Some of our closest friends have now found freedom, but others have shut themselves off from us. But children are resilient and can make new friends, and plugging into an actual healthy church community has meant the world to us. Keep pressing on!

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