Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Matthew 18 Or Revenge?

I am in the process of applying for church membership. And one issue that I have been worried about is having to put down my last church. Although I did discuss the matter with one of the welcome team who said he would mention the problem to the church leadership.

The problem is that I left my old church on very bad terms, forced out. And my fear was that my church contacting the old church would lead to the old church telling my church's leadership things about me that were untrue and maybe leading to the elders going "Right. Well we didn't know that about him. Membership denied."

But, on the other hand, reading between the lines of the church handbook I think I would have a right to reply if anything was said.

I had to leave my old church in the autumn of 2011. I had missed a church event - and emailed in advanced to say why. That should have been the end of the matter.

For one of the church ministers, it wasn't. Basically, "his nose" told him that really I was making a desperate "cry for help" over a deep-seated spiritual problem - so deep-seated that not even I was aware of it.

Now, this is nonsense, but the problem is people believe gossip if it's shared "for prayer purposes".

There was a bit of an email to-and-fro, with him insistent that He Knew He Was Right. It culminated with my turning up at the church Sunday evening and him wanting to discuss my spiritual problem with me. I just told him that I did tell the truth about why I didn't attend and walked away. The following morning in my Inbox was an email from him describing me as "not normal" for my walking away and my refusal to discuss my (non-existent) problem and suggested I seek counselling for the (non-existent) spiritual problem. At which point I contacted another one of the church leadership to explain why I was going to stop attending the church.

The problem is things escalate as stuff gets shared. And after a while you find people on Facebook from the church suddenly unfriending you.

And there is one annoying attitude. That is the lack of a right to reply. There was no chance for me to give my side of the story once some confronted me about the (non-existent) spiritual problem.

I would go further. For some who shared and confronted me there was no such thing as my side of the story. The minister concerned had told them the full facts so they could pray for me. I needed to be brought to the point where I accepted that what was being said about me by him was true, the church would love to give me prayer and counselling, and it was up to me to help the church to help me. You can end up being confronted and shouting "That's not true" till you're blue in the face.

You also come across the Saddam Hussein/Weapons of Mass Destruction logic. Just as the inability to find his WMDs showed that he was very good at hiding them, the lack of evidence of a spiritual problem which is being shared "for prayer purposes" means that the person it's about is good at deceiving others - and themselves - about it.

The thing about church gossips is that they are so silky. Suddenly announcing, for example, that Peter is an alcoholic (and no that isn't what was said about me), isn't going to do anything. But the silky "Oh, you're a friend of Peter's so I'm sure you're just as concerned..", "You love Peter as well so I'm sure you'll want to pray...", "This is just so you can pray.." leaves Peter's reputation shredded and the gossiper's reputation enhanced as they were only doing it because they love Peter.

This was all behind me. Yesterday evening I get an email entitled "Praying 4 You" from a lady I'd never heard of. I was going to delete it, but decided to open it. Apparently, there is a cycle of praying for members "of the church family" and it is my turn to be prayed for next week. Ho hum, that's nice - but it's from my old church. And the minister who caused me so much trouble is one of those doing the praying.

The opportunity for him to again, share something untrue and hurtful about me, for "prayer purposes" is something I worry about. So I emailed her back to ask her to remove me from the prayer list.

And in it, I also explained why I was no longer attending there. And I named name.

I am still unsure of my motivation. Was it - as I justify to myself - following Matthew 18? After all, the minister concerned refuses to apologise so telling the church is a next step, and by naming name I am telling the church (and the next stage would be to treat him as a tax collector)?

Or was I following a baser motivation? That of wanting to hurt someone who abused his ministry and leadership position to cause me so much hurt?

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