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Hulking Out at Church

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Today at Liberate,  Paul Dunk has written a post about the pretense of perfection that is often seen in churches. The effect is that those who know that they are sinners often “hulk out”, or go into hiding due to the shame of not being able to measure up. There is a contingent of people out there who really believe that church should be a safe haven for those who want to escape being around sinners. I used to think that was a good idea back when I saw myself as righteous. The problem is, this type of church would be empty, or full of liars . . . the latter of which violates the tenant of their ideal church. Dunk summarizes this type of thinking like this:

. . . This builds a culture of law and comparison in our churches, rather than a culture of grace and compassion. In essence, we prefer people who sin in the same ways we do.

I prefer to see my sin as  “an issue God is dealing with” but have no problem seeing your sin as dark and horrible.

The sad truth is all of our sin is dark and horrible; and the moment that we begin to categorize our pride as less of an offense to God than the sin of immodesty or lust, we have played our hand and have revealed our heart.

This short post puts things in perspective.

Read: A Church for Those Who “Hulk Out” | LIBERATE

6 thoughts on “Hulking Out at Church

  1. Okay Yeay!!! So fun to wake up to this gospel filled message of hope. Happy Thursday from Tyumen!!!

    • ajcerda.com

      Happy Thursday Serena. Almost bed time there!

  2. Katie

    I’m a 27 year old twice divorced woman. Both divorces were a result of my infidelity. Two years ago I walked into a church carrying my three children and heard the message of grace for the first time. I was naive and assumed that the forgiveness and freedom I felt that day was normal. It only took a few months before people started saying what they really thought. If I was having a conversation with a young single lady, her parents would quickly rush to her aid as if to protect her from my influence. If I sat next to a man they would quickly shuffle seats so that I was next to a woman. I began to “hulk out” like this article describes. I would continue to go to church because God was changing me and all I could think about was what he did for me on the cross. But I would hide out in a corner and leave as soon as the sermon was over feeling full but also lonely. This year I started going to a new church. It is a mega church where nobody knows my past and I can hulk out without being obvious. In the church that I was saved in they used to always say how big churches are impersonal. I never felt more alone than I did in the small church because they encouraged me to share my story then turned on me and used it against me.

    • ajcerda.com

      Katie, thank you for your comment. I am sorry to hear that you were treated that way from the church. I think a lot of Christians simply don’t know how to respond to that. There are some sins they are quick to forgive because they are common and don’t appear to be as dangerous. Then there are those sins which are not as common and (at least outwardly) not as many have struggled with. I will pray that you are able to find a church where you don’t have to hide and pretend, and where you can openly share the miracle God has done in you without being shamed.

  3. Marla S.

    Katie I totally get where you are coming from! I’m about your age, unmarried with kids. Walking into church is the hardest thing I do each week. Not because I don’t want to be there but because walking into church with children calling you mommie and no wedding ring feels like a scarlet letter! Part of this is the natural consequences of my choices and I accept that. A bigger part is my shame. I see perfect families everywhere! I know there is no such thing but I still see them. When I pray and read the Bible and sing songs at nite with them I’m reminded that I haven’t given them a father to do this with them. I spend a lot of time crying. I cry in the car on my way to church. I sit in the car for a few minutes wiping away tears and fixing makeup, I answer my kids questions about why mommy is sad and then I grab their hands and walk stiffly to the sanctuary where we hide in the back row. My kids don’t participate in Sunday School anymore because the other kids have laughed at them for not having a daddy. The kids aren’t trying to be mean, they just assume all kids have a daddy and laugh when they are told “we don’t have one”. After church we walk stiffly back to the car unnoticed. And yet we are fed the Word of God so we keep coming back. It’s a lonely life and I understand.

  4. Ryan

    Marla, Your story saddened me but also encouraged me a lot. You appear to have a real thirst for God because you endure a lot to worship. As a guy, I admit that I would not know what to say. Do I approach you and say ” cute kids”! Or is that creepy? Thoughts going through my head are “I should say hi but she looks busy”, “if I say hi will she think I’m hitting on her?”, ” I’d like to ask if I can help with something. Carry her bibles while she is gathering the kids, get the door for her, but is that creepy”? So if I ran into you I’d probably say hi and smile and leave it at that. Maybe some of the people at your church just simply don’t know what to say.

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