I may have shared this before, but I really think it’s worth sharing again. My wife and I got into a deep conversation about this whole thing yesterday.
We hear all the time that people are leaving “church” because they are wounded. The answer those wounded people are given is often, “You need to get healed so you can get back into the game!” Meaning, they need to get over their hurts quickly so they join an institutional church and be a functioning member again.
But I think there are two kinds of wounds in life. I think there are sports injuries and learning injuries. Sports injuries are the ones that occur in the game of life. You twist an ankle, you take a blow to the head, so you’re out of the game for a little while. You sit out until you’re healed up and then you jump back into the game. The goal is to get healed so you can get back to what you were doing when you got injured. Some examples of these kinds of injuries are when you stepped out to share Jesus with somebody and experienced persecution. Or you loved a neighbor only to have them betray you. It hurt, and it hurt bad, but you got to go to Jesus and get mended so you can get back in the game.
But the learning injuries are different. A learning injury occurs when a two year old reaches out and touches a hot stove. You don’t tell that two year old, “Let me make it all better so you can touch the stove again!” That’s insane! You’d be a child abuser! The point of that injury is to teach you not to do that again. I think many of the wounds people experience in life are these kinds of wounds. They are allowed by God into our lives to say, “See, that’s a hot stove. Don’t do that again.” Examples of these kinds of wounds are when we are hurt by our own sin, stubbornness or pride. But I also believe much of the pain we experienced while in the institutional church are these kinds of wounds. We messed with a system of man’s design and called it God’s. We took on roles of authority over others we weren’t supposed to or we let others have authority over our lives we were never supposed to give them. We played with a hot stove and we got burned. That being the case, it would be crazy to say, “Get healed and get back in the game!” That’s not the game…that’s a hot stove that we shouldn’t be messing with. The reason we can’t go back is because we’ve learned from our injuries that if you play with fire you’re going to get burned.