{1 John 3:1; NLT}

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! But the people who belong to this world don’t recognize that we are God’s children because they don’t know him.

At one time or another many of us feel out of place in church. One reason some people feel this way is because they believe they have nothing to offer. The talents they have seem insignificant, and they don’t know how they can fit in with mission of their church family.

Another reason people feel out of place in church is because they see themselves as hypocrites. The sin which still dominates their lives makes them feel like posers. In their minds eye they are unable to see how they can measure up to all the godly people they find at church. Even worse is the guilt that makes them question their salvation.

While there are elements of truth in these reasons, the reality is they are often magnified in our hearts and become bigger issues then they need to be. We allow these things to become “defining truths” for our lives, which separate us from God’s family.

One way these feelings of inadequacy and hypocrisy get magnified in our hearts is because of the deception of Satan. Jesus told us the truth about Satan:

“For you are the children of your father the Devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murder from the beginning and has always hated the truth. There is no truth in him. When he lies, it is consistent with his character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44; NLT)

Jesus told us that when Satan speaks he tells lies. There might be an element of truth to them, but Satan’s purpose is to deceive. Satan will try to get us to believe that because we don’t have talents that are cherished in our church family then we don’t have what it takes to do ministry. Satan will remind us of all the sin that has marred our lives and try to make us feel like worthless garbage.

The remedy for this situation is to go to the One who does not lie. When God tells us that we have a valuable place in the Body of Christ (Romans 12:3-8 or 1 Peter 4:10-11) we need to trust Him. Because God created us we have something to contribute to the mission of the church.

When God tells us that our sins are forgiven (1 John 1:9, 2:12; Ephesians 2:1-10) we need to believe that promise. We do that by engaging in prayer, worship, and fellowship. We move forward acting like we are new creations, even if we don’t feel like it.

There is no question that trusting God is hard. It is hard precisely because it goes against our feelings and our common sense. Often we demonstrate our faith by not allowing our feelings to control us and choosing instead to trust and obey God.

Another reason these feelings of inadequacy and hypocrisy get magnified in our lives is because of godly sorrow. In other words there are times we feel out of place because we are out of place. Instead of following Jesus we have taken a detour into a life of sin. At those moments the Holy Spirit places in our hearts a feeling of sorrow, and we feel out of place among people who are following Jesus. The apostle Paul tells us:

For God can use sorrow in our lives to help us turn away from sin and seek salvation. We will never regret that kind of sorrow. But sorrow without repentance is the kind that results in death. (2 Corinthians 7:10; NLT)

When we feel sorrow in our hearts it is because of the way we have lived and now God calling us to examine our lives and to repent of our sin. God makes us feel uncomfortable in church because He wants us to repent and surrender our lives to Him.

There are two ways the feeling of being out of place in God’s family gets magnified in our lives. These ways are from two very different sources.

The lies of Satan will always be accusing and harsh. What Satan wants to do is to paralyze us so we will not have an impact for the Kingdom of Heaven. Instead of seeking a relationship with God, Satan will convince us to hide from Him, like Adam and Eve tried to do in the garden after their sin. As a result we separate ourselves from the love, grace, and forgiveness God has to offer.

The experience of godly sorrow is quite different. While we will be upset because of our sin, we will still have a desire to be in God’s presence. That is because sorrow is the result of God revealing to us the reality of our sin and the love He has for us. Godly sorrow reminds us that God is waiting with open arms to welcome us home.

When we feel like we don’t belong in God’s family we need to examine whose voice is whispering in our ear. If it is the voice of Satan we need to tell him to back off as we cling to the truth God has revealed to us. Truth such as: we are His children, we are saints, and we are new creations. If it is the voice of the Holy Spirit then we need to get down on our knees and ask forgiveness. No matter where we have been or what we have done, God has a place for us in His Family. We should feel at home in church.

Questions to consider:

  • Have you ever felt out of place at church?
  • How has Satan tried to deceive you about your worth?
  • What is one way you can be confident about your worth to God?

 

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