Question: “How do I navigate the feelings of hurt and betrayal by the ones who taught me everything I know about the Bible and God? Sometimes I feel like the deceptiveness has pushed me away from God.”
Answer: Thanks for sending in your question. I’m sorry you have experienced hurt, betrayal, and deception by those who taught you about God. These emotions are real, and they can have lasting effects on our spiritual life if they are not correctly addressed and handled.
First off, I want to encourage you with this. Jesus also dealt with these same emotions. He was hurt when Jerusalem would not accept His offer to be their King (Matthew 23:37). He was betrayed by Judas on the night of His arrest (Matthew 26:14-16, 47-50) and when Peter denied Him three times (Matthew 26:69-75). He encountered deception throughout his entire public ministry by the religious leaders in Israel. It was their mission to try and make Him slip up so they could move forward with their own selfish agendas. Jesus understands the hurt, betrayal, and deception you have experienced. He is not a stranger to the pain you feel.
Second, I want to remind you of what you probably already know. This world is full of sinners and those sinners sin every day. Romans 3:9-18 paints a gruesomely accurate depiction of what we all are… sinners. Even the best Bible teachers and pastors in the world are still sinners. God has demonstrated His love toward us in that, while we were yet sinners, Jesus Christ died for us. The sin has been paid and the sinner who believes on Jesus for eternal life is forever justified but sin still has deep impact. I am not sure of what happened to you, but I can confidently say that it was regarding sin and its consequences.
Now, what do these two things have to do with your specific issue? Well, here’s the connection. Jesus is Who we should set our focus on, not the Bible teachers and pastors who guide us. Paul famously reminds his followers to follow him, as he follows Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1). Bible teachers and pastors should be examples to their followers by following Jesus. You and I should be following Jesus and the leaders we follow should do the same. Jesus does not sin and therefore can never let us down. He does not deceive, hurt, or betray His children. Bible teachers and pastors are sinners and can do those things to others. Thankfully, you and I have Jesus to trust and rely upon. I want to make sure you understand… this is not taking every Bible teacher and pastor and saying they are going to hurt, betray, or deceive you or anyone else. However, they, like you and me, are sinners. They have that capability. I am saying that you and I must keep our motivation, our focus, and our minds set on Jesus. When Bible teachers and pastors let us down, it doesn’t have to sour of view of Jesus because we know Him. Instead, we can lift those Bible teachers and pastors up to Jesus in prayer. We can continue serving through the difficulties because we know Him.
You specifically asked how to navigate these feelings. My suggestion would be threefold and found in Ephesians 4:31-32. Remove any bitterness or anger you have towards them or God. Forgive them. Be kind towards them. And remember, you are serving the Lord. He will always do right. I hope this helps you.