Angry…That's what I feel.
I watch these guys amass a huge following all in the name of purity, Godliness, holiness, and then…they fall from grace and punch the whole of the Christian community right in the face. They claim to be holy, yet inside there just as evil as the rest. I'm tired of it. I know I'm putting myself out on a limb when I say this, but I'm tired of picking up the pieces for poor decisions.
I know…I know…"Save by the Grace of God, there go I" But REALLY??
It's no secret, Christians fall from grace. Sexuality, greed, murder, lust, they're all there. If someone was to do an expose on all the issues that drove men from the faith, it would read like an X-rated novel. Jim Baker had a televangelist business going through the 80's. He was reaching out to innocent viewers telling them, "If you give a gift of $$, then God will bless you and your family. He ended up having an affair, and was convicted of fraud to the U.S. government. He served his time.
Jimmy Swaggert was caught in a compromising situation with a prostitute in New Orleans. He was the newest up and coming preacher at the time, appearing on radio stations, television stations, and having a worldwide ministry around the globe. He was removed from the pastorship for a while, and underwent the harshest embarrassing apology.
Ted haggard was the leader of an American Evangelical group boasting of over 30 million members. He was the pastor of a large mega-church in Colorado Springs, and was caught in a homosexual affair with a man from Denver. He was de-throned, and disappeared from public appearances.
So how do we make sense of this stuff?
Most of my buddies in ministry are honest, God fearing, people who are trying to model the discipleship principles of Jesus with their spheres of influence, but every now and then someone falls from Grace, and ends up in some sort of scandal that gives us all a black eye!
And rest assured…I'm tired of the black eyes.
I'm tired of people hammering away at faith for the poor decisions of Christians.
So, what do we do when Christians fall?
1.) We Pray…
I'm not talking about praying for the person to get out of the consequences they deserve. Jim Baker needed to go to jail. Jimmy Swaggert needed to feel the weight of his sin, and Ted Haggard needed to be removed from the pulpit he was preaching purity, but living in promiscuity. Consequences for actions are BIBLICAL!!
We need to pray for God's righteous judgment to be observed. Remember Achon in the valley of AI? (Joshua 7) Achon took some things from Jericho after God commanded them not to take anything, and the Israelites suffered, loosing 30,000 men in the very next battle. God told Joshua the issue, and in the end Achon was stoned, alongside his entire family.
Joshua wiped out a generation of people for the satisfaction of God's anger at sin.
But Jesus said, "Let you who are without sin cast the first stone." So how do we reconcile that?
2.) We look for grace to be restored.
You know, after God has finished working on someone, there is no limit to the grace that can be restored. Jim Baker is in Branson Missouri working in television ministry again. Jimmy Swaggert still has a church in Baton Rouge, and Ted Haggard; well I haven't heard how he's doing yet. But the point is, after the consequences or payment for sin have been served, if a person is truly repentant, then the church has an obligation to allow them back in the fold.
If the person isn't repentant, the church must be vigilant, and stay alert for dangers to it's members.
3.) We pray God be glorified.
I don't know how God is glorified in someone going to prison, but he is.
God can be glorified in lots of ways.
He can be glorified in jail time, removal from power, or a heart felt tearful apology to the world.
God being glorified in all situations is as important as all the rest.
Don't be deceived though, righteous anger for betrayal is as much a part of the process as forgiveness. Remember, Jesus threw the temple tables over because of the sin happening in the church. If someone disappoints you, you have every right to feel angry about it, and we almost have a responsibility to be angry. But in the end, under the umbrella of repentance and a person who seeks restoration, we can call on God to help us forgive and begin the long journey to a new relationship.
It's harder than it looks.
Especially if you've been one of the ones' caught up in the con.
It's natural to feel angry.
It's right to feel betrayed.
It's important to walk through the emotions of sadness.
But ultimately, if we allow anger and bitterness to gain root in our soul…we'll just wind up being angry bitter people.
I was talking to a friend the other day, and he said, "Forgiveness is the only way to defeat evil. Otherwise, what difference are we?"
Believe me, I didn't want to hear that, and certainly am not there yet, but I can see a LONG WAY OUT, and I know God's kingdom is one that will serve vengeance, uphold justice, rid itself of evil, and live in ultimate forgiveness.
May God help me and my heart today. I'm not really into forgiving right now.