The church will disappoint you. There will be a death in the family, a tragic event, a family struggle, a congregational program, that will leave you disappointed. People in the church will disappoint you. The elders will overlook you at times; the minister will forget your name, preach a terrible sermon, offend you, or ignore you in the congregation. We have high expectations of church members, and this reality can cause us to be overly negative about the church. We start to see the bad more than the good. This path leads to a painful place of bitterness. So how can you overcome negativity toward the church?
1. Remember the Positive. For every time someone or something disappoints you, reflect on something that someone did that was positive. We can take the positive for granted but over-focus on the negative. Yes, someone was rude to you in class, but have you thought about the teacher sacrificing his time, his talents, by coming each Sunday to teach you the Bible. Yes, the elders did not follow up with you, but Bill called to check on you. Often for each negative, there are countless positives. Remember that when the spirit of negativity starts to take hold.
2. Remember the Christ. People are not Jesus. Sometimes Jesus provided a rebuke to others, at other times he offered comfort, and sometimes he provided food. Jesus always knew what the person needed and wanted. Humans cannot read your heart. We sometimes give a correction when you needed edifying. Sometimes you needed to be spoken firmly too, but you rejected this word of caution because of pride. When the spirit of criticism starts to bubble up, learn patience because Jesus might be trying to tell you something about yourself. Are you discontent because of a “consumer heart?” Does that realization cause you to see that you need to focus more on serving others, not holding others to your impossible demands?
3. Remember the Humans. A spirit of negativity can cause you to stop looking into your mirror. Everyone else has failed. You have exalted yourself as the judge of them. But you have to remember you are human too. When the spirit of negativity starts to overwhelm you, step back and reflect on yourself. Who have you disappointed? What have you not accomplished? We are all human and need grace.
Satan can use the spirit of negativity. There are times for correction, and there are times to overlook a problem. Discerning the difference is essential for healthy spirituality.