How can I be in the Church, when it has hurt me and so many others? If God is love, how can his people be so mean?
Pastor Emeritus Steve Froehlich attempts an answer to this important question.
We need only open a newspaper to see that religious beliefs can cause harm. But to say that religion is bad for you is like saying “drugs are bad for you,” without distinguishing cocaine from life-saving medication.
— Rebecca McLaughlin, Confronting Christianity
As the world experiences more Christian leaders living and leading authentically with greater humility and integrity (not perfection), we believe more people outside the faith will “taste and see that the LORD is good” (Ps 34:8). They will believe and choose to follow Him because they saw Him, heard Him, and felt Him in a leader who was like Him (a good shepherd).
— Jeff & Terra Mattson, Lifeway Research
Predators are unshepherded sheep taking turns pretending to be shepherds.
— Eugene Peterson, The Message (Ps 13:3-4)
Sermon Texts: Ezekiel 34:1-16
The word of the LORD came to me, Ezekiel: 2″Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy and say to them: ‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? 3 You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. 4 You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. 5 So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. 6 My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them. 7 “‘Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 8 As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, because my flock lacks a shepherd and so has been plundered and has become food for all the wild animals, and because my shepherds did not search for my flock but cared for themselves rather than for my flock, 9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: 10 This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against the shepherds and will hold them accountable for my flock. I will remove them from tending the flock so that the shepherds can no longer feed themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths, and it will no longer be food for them. 11 “For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. 12 As shepherds look after their scattered flocks when they are with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. 13 I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. 14 I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. 16 I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice.
11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?” 15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified. 17 But if, in our endeavor to be justified in Christ, we too were found to be sinners, is Christ then a servant of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I rebuild what I tore down, I prove myself to be a transgressor. 19 For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
This is part eight of a new sermon series at New Life Presbyterian Church called, Hard Questions, Real Answers. Here is the schedule of our sermon series with the topics we will cover:
|How can we say that Christianity is the one true religion?
|How can we say that the Bible is the only true religious text?
|How can we take the Bible literally?
|How can a loving God allow suffering?
|Doesn’t science disprove religion?
|Doesn’t Christianity allow slavery?
|How can you believe in hell?
|How can I be in the Church when it has hurt me and so many others?
|Isn’t Christianity anti-women?
|Isn’t Christianity homophobic?
|How can we adhere to a religion with so many problems?
“How Can I Be in the Church, When It Has Hurt Me and So Many Others?” a sermon preached by Rev. Dr. Stephen D. Froehlich on Sunday, October 29, 2023 at New Life Presbyterian Church, 950 Danby Rd., Ithaca, NY. Join us for worship every Sunday at 10:00AM. Visit us at our website at www.newlifeithaca.org.
The intro and outro music is from “We Will Feast in the House of Zion” provided by Sandra McCracken and with her permission. Please visit her website at www.sandramccracken.com.