In pondering why I feel as though I have allowed my confidence, both in the Lord and in myself, to slip away, I realized that it is not just the world that has wreaked havoc on my confidence, but, sadly, the church plays a role, as well.
We, personally, have experienced some judgmentalism in recent years that we did not expect from our church of over 20 years. We have received it from people who have known us (or one or the other of us) all our lives. It really took us by surprise and set us back a bit, even though until just recently, we couldn't really put our finger on why or what exactly we were feeling.
When I first accepted the gift that the Messiah was giving me, salvation and forgiveness for my sins, I went through an intense period of dealing with my sinful past. I was divorced and remarried. So was my husband. I prayed and struggled and wrestled with God over the issue. However, those around kept reminding me that I was a new creation and that there was now no longer any condemnation for me, I was in Christ Jesus. When God looked at me, He saw me covered with the atoning Blood of the Messiah! My past was gone. I was forgiven. It was time to fill the role that I was created for. Even with other's words, I needed confirmation for myself. One afternoon, as I was reading and struggling with this issue again, I read this passage...
1Co 7:20-24 Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk. And so I direct in all the churches. Was any man called when he was already circumcised? He is not to become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? He is not to be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God. Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called.
Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord's freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ's slave. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called.
While God had knocked on my door many times over the course of those first 29 years of my life, His calling came fully to me 5 years after I had been divorced and remarried. I was to remain in the place I was when He called me! I received much peace from this passage and continue to to this day.
Sadly, though, it has become a divisive issue for our church. Three years ago our church went through a challenging transition and in some ways it brought us all closer together, but as we brought on a new pastor and a new board, a few things began to change. The board and other members of the congregation wanted to keep divorced men off of the administrative board, citing Tit 1:6 namely, if any man is above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.
Instead of looking at each situation individually, there was just going to be a blanket statement that those that had been divorced could not serve on the board. After 20 years of going to the church and my husband having already served on the board, he was now disqualified because of sins committed prior to his acceptance of Christ.
Neither of us knew how to take this. We were certainly not proud of the sins we had committed and we did not publicize them, but the majority of people knew, we thought. We also thought that they had seen what Jesus had done in our lives and the complete transformation He had wrought in our lives. Suddenly, we were seeing things differently. That what we thought wasn't true, maybe never had been. It shook my confidence to the core, and despite believing that God had truly and completely forgiven us and that according to Psalm 51:13, being forgiven brought with it the responsibility to "teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners shall be converted and return to You," I withdrew from a friendship and from any kind of teaching/leading (of women) role in the church. I really felt that if they were disqualifying my husband, they were disqualifying me.
As time has gone on and the issue is yet to be resolved, we have really felt as though we have committed the one sin that can't really be forgiven and moved on from (aside from the one described as "the unpardonable sin" in Scripture). No one else in the church gets measured by their sins before they came to Christ. No one. Only those that have been divorced.
I totally agree and believe that if someone chooses divorce, other than for adultery or abuse, after salvation, there are and should be consequences and they may not be limited to the type of service one can be a part of in the church, but each situation should be handled individually and Biblically!
We live with the consequences of our sin to this day and we will until we reach Heaven, but our church use to be a safe place where we could rest in knowing that we were forgiven and that it was left long behind and we could be a part of something. We no longer feel a part of our church. We feel singled out and after 28 years of marriage, through all the ups and downs, we have shown ourselves faithful to these vows and the understanding of what a covenant is, we feel condemned once again.
Despite this struggle, I keep being reminded that I am a new creation, the old has gone, the new has come! There is no condemnation for me or my husband (consequences, yes, condemnation, no!). So, I'm putting aside the lack of confidence! It is time to hit it all head on. Bible studies are back on. Writing is back on.
I have been forgiven! No one can take that away from me!
Psa 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
Mic 7:18-19 Who is a God like You, Who forgives iniquity and passes over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage? He retains not His anger forever, because He delights in mercy and loving- kindness.
He will again have compassion on us; He will subdue and tread underfoot our iniquities. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
Gone! Gone! Gone!