I hate wasps. Truth be told, they scare me.
I have never had a pleasant encounter with one. They swoop down unexpected, sting you for no apparent reason and then fly off, I am convinced, with little bug laughter and a gleeful, "Did you see what I did to him?" when they return to their nest.
Sad to say, there are a fair number of Christians who are like wasps. There you are, minding your own business, when suddenly they swoop down upon you and leave you with painful, stinging words. When we swat at them, they fly off back to their churches where they brag about what they did and to whom they did it.
Some of these wasp-like believers are particularly fond of stinging those in leadership and brag that their job is to keep the pastor humble and on his toes.
Sadly, such behavior is not Christian at all. The Bible says of Jesus, who we Christians claim to follow, "A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out" (Isaiah 42:3 NIV). That verse speaks of the tenderness of the Savior.
The reed referred to in that passage is said to be a reed pipe made by shepherds to pass the time and placate the sheep. These musical instruments were easily made and easily broken. Because they were so easy to make, the general practice was to discard the pipe when the reed was damaged and could no longer produce the soothing sound the shepherd desired.
Sadly, a lot of people in churches are like these early shepherds, very quickly discarding someone they consider to be damaged.
But again, that was not the practice of the Lord of the church. This passage in Isaiah speaks of our Savior tenderly and carefully caring for that reed pipe being careful not to break it or discard it.
The picture of his actions with the smoldering wick is one of working with and caring for it in such a way that it once again flames back to life. He doesn't simply snuff it out and run off and get a new wick. He tenderly, carefully and gently blows on what others would consider out and dead, back to life.
Perhaps you are reading this article, and you are one who has been stung by one of those wasp-like Christians. Or, you are one who knows that you are damaged goods and you don't know where to turn for help.
You certainly won't turn to the church -- they would never understand, and like the shepherds of old, you are pretty sure they would finish breaking you and then discard you.
Let me remind you of a few things.
First, let me remind those of us in the church that we must stop acting in ways that are unbecoming, unattractive and certainly not pleasing to our Lord who was a friend of sinners, not their avowed foe.
Second, let me speak to any of you who may be broken and hurting, and perhaps like that wick in Isaiah's passage, about to die out -- the Lord of the church cares. He loves you. He longs to heal you, to deal tenderly with you and restore you back to usefulness. Won't you let him?
Don't allow the sinful behavior of some who claim to be saints keep you from the healing hand of the Savior.
Dr. John Pearrell is pastor of Gateway Community Church in Covington, GA.. For more information visit the Gateway website at www.gatewaycommunity.org.