Church Contempt: Recovery Community Meetings

It is no surprise. We regularly endure statements that there are “significant” reasons why Church Leaders and their congregations won’t involve themselves with the Recovery Community.

We’ve heard some of the following:

Open the door, set up some chairs, brew a pot of coffee.
  • We work hard to keep our church clean, we don’t want it messed up.
  • We don’t want our equipment and furniture damaged.
  • No “respectable” people will attend — just freeloaders and criminals.
  • We don’t want to loose our stuff. Thieves unwelcome.
  • We don’t want “Those People” in our space, it’s holy.
  • The kind of program you plan is put out by a group lead by someone we disagree with.
  • We don’t agree with the program …even though we haven’t actually examined it, because we were told it was un-biblical by someone we follow. (… isn’t that gossip?!)

Even so, scripture paints a clear picture.

“But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind…”

Luke 14:13

Recovery Community Meetings are a banquet – to serve the Word of Truth, feed the Milk of the Gospel and comfort people in pain.

As much as we’d like our congregational friends to join us, these meetings just don’t serve hypocrites, opportunists, philanderers and churchy sycophants. Not that everyone in church is evil! But “with one accord” church people seem prone to declining the invitation to attend God’s work. (Take a moment and read Matthew Matthew 22:1-14!)

Jesus said: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.” Luke 5:32

“When you give a luncheon or dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or sisters, your relatives, or your rich neighbors.

Luke 12:12
Aren’t we all?

Important to notice is that Jesus takes time to reiterate all of these principles (and others!) by restating them in the “Parable of the Great Banquet.

The servant was sent to invite familiar friends…

“But they all with one accord began to make excuses.” 

Luke 12:18

We in the recovery community recognize that everyone has hurts, habits and hangups. Everyone. We find ourselves in conflict with a church that treats many suppressed, but significant spiritual sins as “respectable“; that is to say, “real sins” are primarily committed by those outside the church, e.g. abortion, homosexuality, addictions, adultery, murder, graft, etc.

It’s not uncommon for a new believer with a background of “real sin”, seeking to attend a church for healing and redemption, to sense they are entering the gates of a country club. Isn’t the church supposed to be “a hospital for the pained, not a sanctuary for saints”?

“But if you love [only] those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them”

Luke 6:32

We in the recovery community – who stand outside the country club gates – have been afflicted in our time, and understand how the Lord intends to use our pain to comfort others. It’s been said “God never wastes a hurt.” So, the the response we must make as disciples: Because we have been comforted we want to comfort others with the hope we have obtained.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort,  who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.  Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comfortedit is for your consolation and salvation.  And our hope for you is steadfast, because we know that as you are partakers of the sufferings, so also you will partake of the consolation.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-7

“It is for your consolation” – literally so that you may be consoled, comforted, encouraged, lifted up… Comfort for whom?

“I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

Luke 5:32

Humbly, we know that in the recovery community we are not the educated, elder-approved, church-endorsed resources Religious Leaders prefer. And we see that there is an unavoidable association in scripture with the intention to meet, pray, study and seek healing together through confession and personal accountability.

“For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty;  and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are…”

1 Corinthians 1:26-28

So what are the reasons your church gives for avoiding the recovery community?

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