Spiritual Abuse

Background

I was going to write this article from my experience of spiritual abuse. I wrote a lengthy background and then went for a short break. I felt God prompting me to get straight to the point. This isn't about me, it's about others, it could be about you. Over the next few weeks I am going to take you through a series of questions.

Does the discipline of your shepherd/pastor comfort you?

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. - Psalm 23:4

We are all sinners (Romans 3:23) myself included. Thus we all walk through the valley of the shadow of death for we are taught that the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). The valley paints a picture of being surrounded and of ultimate defeat, yet David refers to it as "the shadow of death" as he acknowledges that in the Lord, death has lost it's power, it's merely a shadow. The rod and staff are implements of a shepherd used to protect sheep that might otherwise stray and to ward off predators. They are used to round up sheep and are representative of the Lord's discipline. Crucially, David writes, "they comfort me."

Churches may talk about going beyond your comfort zone, but this means that we are to serve beyond what is comfortable. This means changing routines, lifestyles, etc. The comfort that David is referring to is safety and particularly the feeling of being safe. Is your shepherd like the one David described in Psalm 23 or is your shepherd interested in his/her own needs?