My friend C. used to go to a Pentecostal holiness-type church. She tells me this story of when she stopped going to church: It had been a long week at work. Deadlines, overtime, high pressure. And as she was standing outside the church after the worship service, telling her friend about her week and how stressed she was, her beeper went off.
"Oh shxt!" she said, and tended to her beeper.
"I'll pray for you!" was her friend's response. And she didn't mean she'd pray for her to have a better week, or for there to be less stress or less overtime. She didn't mean she'd pray for her office to leave her in blessed peace on the weekend. She meant that saying "shxt" was against their ethical code and that C. was therefore a sinner and her friend was going to pray for her to be more holy.
When my friend C. told me about this, I was floored. Our church has all kinds of faults, but if someone's beeper went off and they cussed, I don't think anyone would mention it. And if they had just been pouring out their hearts about how stressed they were about work, "I'll pray for you" would mean something like "that you have a better week".
Which is the gnat and which is the camel? To me, someone who saw and heard all that and thought the only part deserving comment was the one cuss word -- that's abusive. C. hasn't been back to her old church since. And I have no idea if the whole church is that way or if it's just a matter of "one in every crowd."
Meanwhile, I'm still praying for her. That she stops seeing herself as "not good enough" (she was always prone to that anyway) and stops seeing the church as "the place where that one lady is." Such moments cause people to turn away ...