An apology might be the last thing you expect from a church person. After all, we have a reputation for pointing fingers at others, while holding ourselves to a different standard. We have a tendency to speak first about politics and last about compassion. We cling to our comfort zones instead of Jesus.
This isn’t going to be easy. I am exposing a part of me I’d rather leave hidden. This apology is for all the people I diminished when I was lost in religion.
1. I am sorry for not thinking about your feelings.
How many times have I seen a life-style, a demographic, or a “sin” and immediately made a decision about you? I forget that you are a real person with feelings just like mine. I forget that you feel rejection as painfully as I do. I’m sorry I didn’t take the time to know you. My own pain has now made me more sympathetic to your pain. I hope the next time I meet you, that I will look into your eyes and see the beautiful soul God made. I hope I will see the soul that just needs a friend to listen and weep with her.
2. I am sorry for not noticing you when you visited my church.
I am an introvert my nature and reaching out to a stranger is scary and difficult. But you came to my comfort zone, the church, and I failed to notice. I was absorbed in my own problems or in catching up with my friends. I didn’t see you there all alone. Or maybe I did, but I thought I was too busy to do anything about it. I want to do better. I want to notice you next time. I want to make sure you feel seen and appreciated. It was hard for you to come here. You deserve to come away with real substance.
3. I am sorry that I stood in the way of Jesus.
Instead of focusing on Jesus, I was more concerned about clothing, music styles, and upholding traditions. My preoccupation with lesser things blocked your view of Jesus. I caused you to think that church was all about moral living and staying away from “sinners”. In reality, church is for all of us sinners to come to Jesus to receive healing and love. Our sins all have different names, but they all equally keep us from a relationship with our loving Father.
I hope you will forgive me. Jesus is showing me my pride and my selfishness. It’s not pretty, but the healing and forgiveness He brings makes the pain of discovery worth while. Jesus is creating beauty from the ashes of my sin.
He wants to do the same for you. He understands your hurts, your scars, your failings. He doesn’t hold them against you. He has already offered forgiveness. The stripes the Roman soldiers cut into His back paid for your healing over two thousand years ago.
Jesus wants to heal me and you of all our injuries, whether they are self-inflicted or inflicted by others; whether they are internal or external. It doesn’t matter if we grew up in church or have never darkened a church door…Jesus loves and forgives us all equally.
“Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.” –2 Chronicles 7:14 NLT
Originally published May 6, 2016