Read Psalm 55. Pay attention to what David is saying, what he is lamenting, what he is experiencing. You might be surprised...
David is crying out to God asking his to make things right (justice). By itself this is not an unusual thing for David to do, after all, he was frequently the target of a seemingly never-ending list of enemies. But take a closer look at the enemy in this Psalm - the "enemy" is one that will probably a lot more recognizable than the usual litany of foreign powers and competing claims of power...
But it is you, a man like myself, my companion, my close friend, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship at the house of God, as we walked about among the worshipers. (Ps 55:13-14)
David's enemy is a close friend from church. David has been betrayed, hurt, and let down by someone from the one place we expect to be protected from exactly those kinds of experiences.
We can all remember and point to the exact same experience that David is talking about here. In fact, if I can be so bold, several times over the past 8 years I have heard some of you make very open comments about how you've been hurt by someone at this church, and therefore you refuse to put yourself in a similar position again.
I get it.
Anytime we take a chance at opening ourselves up to other people we are taking a risk that we will ultimately be hurt, sometimes very badly and beyond repair. And the reality is that churches tend to operate a lot like families, which means there's an even higher level of vulnerability and potential hurt that comes with being an engaged member of a Christian community than is posed by a community of co-workers, teammates, or club members.
For some people, the hurt they experience at the hands and words of a fellow church member causes them to swear off anything having to do with the church and its people. In certain cases, it can even cause people to swear off God. Both responses, while understandable, work to weaken the experience of community and love that the Bible consistently pushes for with the Body.
How does David respond in Psalm 55, and what could that mean for you and your relationship with the church and/or it's people?
But as for me, I trust in you. (Ps 55:23c)
Just to be absolutely clear, the "you" that David is referring to is God. There's no doubt that David has been hurt by a church member who is quite close to him. But rather than pulling away and putting up space between himself and the community or especially God, David draws closer to God. He understands that God alone is a righteous judge and can bring real justice. David doesn't allow his previous experiences with the people in the church taint his view or sense of the value and necessity of God or the community that worships him.
We all carry around hurt and pain; we have all been betrayed by people who claim and bear the name of Jesus. Realistically, we ourselves are also the source of someone else's hurt and pain. But the question is not so much how do we avoid experiencing pain again, but what we do with it when it happens.
We can learn from David: "But as for me, I trust in YOU." This is why we've begun our definition of Christian community as a group of "Jesus people" - we are not tied together in community through our comfort and lack of pain caused by other people, we are united together because of our shared faith in the Savior.