In Chapter 1 of Healing Your Church Hurt, author Stephen Mansfield notes that through reflection on his own woundedness he became aware that the cause of the offense is not as significant as the common characteristics of the offended soul. He goes on to list five characteristics of a poisoned soul.
1. A poisoned soul is distanced form God.
2. A leaking, toxic bitterness taints everything that the poisoned soul touches.
3. Life is in danger of being characterized by smallness, pain, bitterness, and missed destinies.
4. A poisoned soul, legitimately or not, clenches onto the offense through rage, self-pity, or a vision of vengeance, spiraling life downward into a “microcosm of hell.”
5. A poisoned soul wrestles with God, that such blatant offense could be His will or that fellow believers could be so cruel.
Mr. Mansfield asserts that when the body of Christ is bruised, the cause of Christ is hindered. We need to come home to Jesus. The author then concludes with a short story.
A man falls into a deep hole and starts yelling for help. A doctor walking by hears the man’s cries and throws down a prescription. Then a priest happens by, writes a prayer, and tosses it down to the man. Finally, the man’s friend, Joe, comes by and jumps in the hole. The man is distraught, now that both he and Joe are stuck in the hole. But Joe replies, “Yeah, but I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.”
Today’s question: What specific aspects of religious offense syndrome have characterized your response to your ministry downsizing or vocation loss? Please share.
Tomorrow’s blog: “Prerequisites for the way out”