What do we do when Christians Fall?

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??

Jim_Bakker

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.

_38691859_swaggart238 

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-thumb 

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.

12 Comments

  1. I’m not making excuses, but I believe our spiritual leaders are under enormous spiritual attack and we need to consistently support them in prayer. Would it be a safe assumption that the higher profile position one has, or the more lives one affects, then the greater the spiritual attack?
    As I think about my own feelings regarding recent events, I am reminded that my own spiritual followers (for lack of a better word, but those 100 women I teach at church) would have many of the same reactions should I fall from grace, and I am prompted to better watch my steps so that I not step off the path I’m seeking to follow, and end up falling down a mountain.
    It’s one thing to see a Christian we admire fall, it’s another to see one that we’ve invested in fall, and still another to have someone we’ve trusted some aspect of our lives or families with fall. The betrayal is strong and painful. I think that does take a while to work through. But more than anything else, it fills me with sadness.

  2. Wow. I wish I had not stumbled onto this. If you are going to publicly address an issue that you (regardless of new ownership) are connected to then at least have the decency to speak wisdom and clarity into the situation. You are not doing anyone a favor by indirectly addressing the mess Pete has created. As a leader with great vision and phenomenal resources please use your influential position to promote healing. No offense but it’s extremely easy to get angry at these jacka**es, our opinions are probably the same, and much harder to handle this with wisdom and maturity. I’m assuming the dominating demographic for your blog are the campers that come to Kivu, how many of them are already angry and confused? What about Pete’s family? What about your father in law? Look I worked at camp for 4 years and the list of what’s broken is a lot longer then the list of what’s right, but if anything I’ve found that Christian’s in position of influence are no safer, and often less safe due to lack of accountability, then the rest of the Church.
    I apologize if this comes across disrespectful or condescending, I’m just sick of the bs that flys around in the body. I’m more prone to cynicism then optimism but this kind of garbage is starting to wear on me.

  3. Thank you all who have posted comments here these last few days. From the Matt comment calling for healing, to the painful feeling of Sadness obvious in Sally’s post, I’m just thankful to walk in a community with you guys. I must say the obvious omission of current events is no accident. I have no intention of tearing wide open fresh wounds, and I believe before we begin to heal, we must address the hurt, sadness, anger, and the wide variety of emotions linked to things like this. My hope is, MATT, that we continue our Journey to healing, but I will not compromise the road. It’s going to take a long time for ALL who are involved to come to grips with this stuff, and there’s no need to repress our feelings in the name of Christianity. David cried out to God throughout the Psalms, Jesus felt anguish in the garden, John was overwhelmed with feelings in Revelation; so to think that writing a post with some sort of stream of conscience is somehow disregarding my responsibility as a Christian leader…well quite frankly…that’s absurd. It won’t stop until we live in a community that reveals all things, knows all things, and become transparent with those closest to us. This piece is simply to reflect the emotions of one man’s journey, mainly me, and if there are teenagers, college students, and adults who are walking the same road I am, then I believe ultimate healing, health, and forgiveness will come together. Thank you for all who are so encouraging. I appreciate the dialogue, and am continuing to field questions every hour of the day!!

  4. I’m not sure this is the time for us to point the figure so much as it is the time to look deep within ourselves and realize our own capabilities. I’m angry too but there’s no undoing what’s happened. Perhaps it’s time for introspection. The second we assume we are incapable of the things that these ministers, including Pete, have done we take a step towards doing them ourselves. No one thinks they are capable of these unthinkable things but we all share something in common: wickedness. We are born with it and only Christ can redeem it. Every event of this nature should be a wake up call for all ministers of the Gospel. We have to wake up to the fact that we are incapable of purity without the redeeming work of the Spirit and we are also capable of the most unspeakable acts without the same redeeming work of the Spirit.
    I share you’re frustration but I’ve got way too big of a plank in my eye to start pointing out the splinters (or planks) in the the eyes of others.
    I love you Braner. You rock.

  5. Does re-imagining the Christian world mean making it up as you go along? Is it your charge to pass judgement on other men?
    Holier-than-thou, self-agrandizing statements are dangerous.
    Obadiah 1:3 states:
    “The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights, you who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?'”
    If you wish to engage in the practice of stream of conciousness, you should do it in your own private journal. Publicly blasting someone because you are upset shows a clear lack of constraint and absence of maturity. Two qualities a leader should posess and practice.
    You think you were the only person hurt by the events that unfolded? You were not. You selfish anger and temper tantrum are not welcome nor appreciated.
    I read your entry several times over and did not find any evidence of compassion or forgiveness. These are not two charges that we can selectively follow when we feel like it. They are the calling of Christian men.
    Hate the sin, love the sinner.

  6. wow. i’m really disappointed in this post. the story about Ted still angers me too but for very different reasons. yes, he cheated on his wife and that’s awful but do i think he should have been pushed out of the church completely? no. that’s the time a church is supposed to pull together and HELP a person, not tear them down and crumble their lives even further.
    and big deal it was a man he cheated with. i still to this day believe he is gay and the only reason he’s with his wife is from the pressures of others. THAT is wrong. maybe this doesn’t conform to the ideas of most Christians but i don’t care. there is absolutely nothing wrong with people being gay, but the pressures the Christian society puts on people to be the perfect idea IS wrong.
    all of us sin, and none of us fit into the “perfect mold” of Christianity that has been created 100% of the time.

  7. Andy, I don’t know you but my children do. Both of them have been camping at Kanakuk for years in Branson and Colorado. They speak very highly of you. It’s very easy for people to point fingers especially if they have never fallen from grace. I really don’t think these people intentionally set out to do these sinful things. Somewhere way back the sin wasn’t broken in the family line. It’s called generational sin. People don’t know they are carrying these sins from family lines until things go bad. Is it right – absolutely no! But it will take strong discernment in christians to address the issues and be willing to dig deep to break the curses. Do you Andy know what generational curses are in your family line? We can ask the Holy Spirit he will tell us.

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