Just the other day I prayed with my wife before she went off to work. As is our normal habit we joined hands and prayed for one another, that God would speak to us, show us His will, and fill our day with His peace. I began to cry. My spirit is very grateful for all God has done in my life and the freedom I have in Him. My wife smiled and said, “God is softening your heart.”
When we are attentive to the Holy Spirit and His call to us we can be caught up in glorious rapture, Resolute in our commitments to Him, we are like the potters clay, able to be shaped and formed as God wills, pliable in His loving hands. We feel great inspiration to serve and obey beyond the limits we once placed on our relationship with Him. Revelations are given us which wipe away our feeble and erroneous understanding of not only the greatness of who God is, but of the Fathers measureless love for each of us. The tootsie roll that is our heart, is soft and willing to listen and obey.
I must admit that my blog is directed at the Christian. It is often with the purpose of encouraging the believer who has stumbled along the way, and challenging the stalwarts of the church to extend grace and restoration to the repentant.
I am bumping up against big obstacles when I ask those who have stood strong in their faith to be understanding and welcoming of the soul who has seen their error and desires to return; especially when it involves leadership positions and sinful conduct. I can’t get past that hard, candy shell exterior.
The thing is, when I read in 1st Timothy 3, I see this:
“A bishop then must be…” I will focus on the word be, its meaning is to exist or live, and I would suggest for my purposes that it is in a present tense.
Now, if someone has murdered someone, they are a murderer, right? If someone rapes another, then they are a rapist; what I am saying is that they are in a state of being, and are identified by what they have done. In fact it is by the worst thing they have done; because of the seriousness of the offense, anything good they have done is irrelevant
David was a murderer and an adulterer, however he is commonly known as a man after God’s own heart. A man who made many disastrous mistakes and paid a dear price for them, yes, but he was also was a tremendous leader, prophet, and man of God. So is David’s identity that of a murderer? Honestly answer that question, I’ll give you a second…. the answer is no, he had someone killed and slept with a married woman among other things, he repented and suffered great consequences for his mistakes, but God restored him.
Can a pastor once have been a rapist? Or an adulterer? Can a leader in the church have in their past committed acts that go against the laws of God and man? I remember very clearly the words spoken to me after I had failed in a particular instance, this leader gave me hope when he said that the sin I had committed wasn’t who I was, it wasn’t my identity.
The identity placed upon us when we fail is mans doing, not Gods.
I have seen former drug dealing gang leaders become pastors, how is this possible? Why is the church selective in it’s judgement and punishment of those who fail, especially that of Christian leaders, Why? Because men are respecters of persons.
Acts 10:33-36 (MSG)
33 “So I did it—I sent for you. And you’ve been good enough to come. And now we’re all here in God’s presence, ready to listen to whatever the Master put in your heart to tell us.”
34-36 Peter fairly exploded with his good news: “It’s God’s own truth, nothing could be plainer: God plays no favorites! It makes no difference who you are or where you’re from—if you want God and are ready to do as he says, the door is open. The Message he sent to the children of Israel—that through Jesus Christ everything is being put together again—well, he’s doing it everywhere, among everyone.
I would challenge us to widen our vision, to see for the repentant a way to restoration. To understand the love of God and His calling cannot be destroyed by sin, only by the hardness of a persons heart and their unwillingness to repent.
“I don’t care what you’ve done, what matters is where you are now.” These words were spoken to me a few months ago and gave me great encouragement. I now stand on them as I live a pure life before God and man. Will all I am and do be enough to restore Gods calling in my life?
When I think of the many prominent Christian leaders who have fallen, I like you, sit in judgement. To be so visible and representing the Christian before the world, how could they have let themselves be so deceived? Remember this, they are but man, that’s why; they were just as susceptible to the snare of the enemy as any of us have been or will one day be.
I have a question for you. Who are the least of these? Is it only the poor, and disadvantaged, the physically sick or naked?
Matthew 25:31-40 (NLT)
31 “But when the Son of Man[d] comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32 All the nations[e] will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.
34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,[f] you were doing it to me!’
That leader which is cast into outer darkness and forgotten about, is the least of these.
The once respected and supported man or woman of God was lead away by their own lusts, ensnared and taken captive; they are in a prison of sorts. They sit alone in cruel confinement, devoid of friends or even a cool drink of water, surrounded by accusations and condemnation.
The people who posses the very God-given ability to help restore them have cast their emaciated carcass on a pile of trash and walked away, this is in no way justifiable or even Biblical.
If someone has fallen, and they are repentant and seek restoration, we must do whatever is in our power to help them. Are we fearful we are being duped and will regret giving them assistance? Is that up to us to decide? And even if they are not repentant, should we not at least pray God would open their eyes to their sin and grant them repentance, and ultimately restoration?
While I understand there is more to consider in this process of restoration, it is high time we get past the hard exterior of our judgmental and harsh hearts and access the softness of God’s grace and mercy to help put the kingdom of God back in its place. If we fail to minister to the least of these, we are failing to obey God Himself.