The Difference Between Healthy & Unhealthy Community
- 2013 20 Dec
The following is a transcribed Video Q&A, so the text may not read like an edited article would. Scroll to the bottom to view this video in its entirety.
"The thing that damages us, unhealthy community, is actually ... The flip of that is what heals us, which is healthy community. Part of that issue is learning which is healthy, and which is not healthy. In terms of spiritually abusive churches, there's just a lot of issues that can come up with that. But typically, there's a distorted view of respect, where someone is in control and in charge, and they demand this allegiance to them. This can also happen in an abusive marriage, where you, as the abuser, demand respect, and you tell the person that their proof of their relationship with you is also a measurement of how well you submit to Christ. In terms of other exclusive things, those churches use exclusive language like, "We're the only ones doing this." That also happens in damaging relationships. 'You won't get anything better than me,' some of those manipulative, painful things. One of the other things I would say is, there is a culture in abusive relationships and abusive churches where there's a culture of fear and shame.
If you constantly live in fear, or you go to church and you leave there feeling ashamed all the time, never any grace, never any joy, never any peace, then you should begin to see that it is not a good place for you. It's easier to point it out for somebody else. I could see someone in a damaging relationship, or I could someone in a damaging church, but it's hard for me, personally. I think that is why it is so important, probably the best solution of all of this is to have great community around us. Because when we do, we have people who have our backs, who can see things that we can't see. That is absolutely so, so important. My encouragement to readers and listeners and watchers is, don't give up. There are some bad eggs out there, but don't let them spoil your life for the rest of your life. Then, another encouragement is to go to a nursing home, and just observe the two types of people that you'll see there.
There's going to be a whole population of people that aren't communicating, so not them. But the ones who are either extremely joyful or they're throwing things at people. You ask yourself, 'Do I want to be the extremely joyful person when I grow up, or do I want to be the angry lady throwing a coffee mug at the nurse?' If you don't want to be the angry lady throwing a coffee cup at the nurse, then you have to realize that bitterness does you no good. That is the road you're going to go down if you close off your heart forever. The biggest part of this life is love God, love others. If you have cut off the loving others, you are also going to see your relationship with Christ become detrimental. You will not have the full life that God has for you. He desires for us to have this abundant life. The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy. He comes to steal, kill, and destroy you and your relationships. But Jesus came that we might have life abundantly."