What goes on in most churches is heartbreaking.

The sheep are being beaten.  And, bottom line, THAT is what is heartbreaking.  But what is perhaps even worse, is that the sheep are allowing themselves to be beaten.  They sit idly in their chairs or pews as the guy up front tells them all of the things they are doing wrong.  Forgetting that Jesus Christ paid a tremendous price to take away the sins of the entire world.

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!  (John 1:29)

The last time I was in an actual “real” church — as opposed to the outside-of-the-box Bible Studies I’ve been attending the past decade — I witnessed one of these public beatings.  I went to hear their guest speaker, a famous author of “Christian books” (How did his books become a Christian?  I guess the books got saved?).

He gave an end-times message which ended by telling the humongous audience (1,000 or more) that since Jesus was coming back soon they had better shape up.  They were reading the wrong novels and magazines, watching the wrong movies, and doing all sorts of other things wrong, and “When Jesus comes back, people, do you really want to feel ashamed when you stand before Him!?”

By this time in my life, I had only recently surrendered to the fact that I am a completely forgiven person, so my own welts and bruises were still raw; the lashes on my own back from 12 years of such beatings were not yet healed.  So when the guest speaker finished his message and asked the packed-out crowd to bow our heads in a prayer of repentance, I wanted to scream out, “No!”  Instead of bowing my head during his prayer, I kept my head lifted high and searched the room for the pastor of this church; why wasn’t he running up to the podium to interfere and apologize to everyone for letting this happen!?  Why wasn’t the pastor reminding the crowd that Jesus is NOT ashamed of us!! (Hebrews 2:11, Hebrews 11:16).

But it wasn’t only his fault . . .

The sheep accepted their beating; they took their lashing without complaint.

Once it was all over, I walked among the huge crowd looking for anyone who might be as upset as I was.

Nope.  They were all fine.

Some were visibly giddy.  They were busy chatting to friends, and perhaps making plans to watch “Fireproof” for their next movie night.

Meanwhile, I felt as if I were about to burst into hysterical sobbing.  (Which I later did, once home, and after holding back the storm of tears during the 20-minute drive home.)

What I experienced that night was not unique.  I have been to an enormous number of churches in my life, and these beatings are taking place everywhere.

Yet, He is not ashamed of you if you have believed in Him and believed in the gospel.  If you have done that, then you have done all the work that He requires of you.  Now it is time for you to rest.

“Therefore they said to Him, “What shall we do, so that we may work the works of God?”  Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He has sent.””  (John 6:28)