Sunday, June 26, 2005

How would you respond?

Today a good friend of mine came to me with some disturbing concerns. He and I were both in the youth group of the man I told you about a few weeks ago. By the way he's been sentenced 21 months in prison just for the fraud (the sexual allegations have not been formally addressed yet). He and I have been dealing with this together. He came to my house "needing to get out" of his house. His father and some friends were talking "church politics" and the situation we've been dealing with came to the conversation. One man who was there had very angry words to sat about our newly accused friend. He said that he was an "evil man."

"how is it that the people who've been given so much grace are not willing to give anything to someone else?" My friend asked me this question and I have been thinking about it a lot. Of course it's a generalizing statement but it's true in many cases. The man who said this was at one time a heroin addict. He's gone through much transfer mation for the good but apparently has somehow transformed into an unforgiving grudgeholder or at least remained one.

One of the first things that came to mind for me was the story of Jesus and the adulterous woman about to be stoned. Resounding from this passage are the words "I do not condemn you..." What a profound statement for Jesus to make. His heart is apparently not one of condemnation or one that withholds forgiveness but one of acceptance, compassion, and grace.

Now this feeds a little into my last post... Should not the heart of the Church at least resemble that of the God that supposedly indwells within it? Is it conceivable for us to say as a community "we do not condemn you." Now I do not imply that we should always erase any consequence. Yes, do it whenever reasonable but when there are obvious unavoidable repercussions we should carry a reluctant sympathetic heart, like Christ's.

There's a great nooma that Rob Bell put together. It's called Lump. In the story Rob Bell's Kid gets caught hitting his brother. The boy runs into his parents bedroom and buries himself under the covers. I think we can take a lesson from Rob's reaction. Rob explains how his heart breaks over the reconciliation that must happen, he'll now have to apologize to his mother and to his brother and to whoever he stole the little white ball from (he also got caught stealing a white ball). So when sin catches up to someone it's not just how they respond that matters but how their friends do too, how the Church does. The heart of the local church community seems to have totally abandon this man. They've responded with a pitchfork and a noose instead of kind words and open arms (along with sympathetic understanding of the inevitable consequences). In scripture punishment from God is always produced by a motive of restoration.

we must examine our own hearts; would we as individuals come with a sympathetic heart, with righteous anger, or with a pitchfork seeking revenge?

5 comments:

Flip said...

This is a really good post. I wish there were more Christians like you. You used the word grace in your post - and I've been hearing that word a lot lately.

WES ELLIS said...

Thanks Flip.

I also want to clairfy that anger in this situation is resonable and understandable, probably necesary. i talked once before about anger. Anger is good but we must in this situation be angry about the lives that were negatively effected. I'm a little angry but I can't allow myself to alienate this man because of my anger. It's obviouse to me that this man knew he was in the wrong at least at one time.

Danny said...

I would agree with you Wes in both your post and your response. There is a place for anger (especially if this man was abusing his power by taking advantage of girls...this is the one thing that really makes my heart break). But there is also a place for grace and love and hope that a changed and transformed life might come from this.

Everyone has sin and it's stupid to condemn it one person because it is more visible than others.

Ashley said...

Wes, I have also been aware of the situation and a part of several conversations about everything that has happened. I cannot tell you how many countless times I have heard people shooting this man down. All I can think about is shoot the sin down, not the man. (when talking about him, I do believe his punnishment was both fair and just, considering what he has done.)

Just as in the Sermon of the Mount, Jesus said something along the lines, if you look at a woman lustfully, it is just as bad as if you had committed adultry with her. Let me be careful in saying that I'm sure most whom are throwing the accusations this mans way have done something equally as bad. Now I understand that from one perspective they are totally different, but do you see what I am saying. Don't worry I have never said this to anyone, although When I hear all of the horrible things that are being said I can't help but sometimes think it.

I think this whole things kind of ties into the posts Wes and I posted earlier this week about the church. It shocks me how the attitude of some people is so cold and uncaring. Like the guy Wes mentioned in his post whom was a recovered addict saying this. Does this man think that Gods grace is only good enough to cover him and no one else? I know this isn't what the man is thinking, but it is how it appears.

I have also heard time and time again, well he was a pastor, God holds him to a higher standard, therefore it is worse that he did it. I don't think that it is so much a higher standard, but that an equivalent standard for all men, perfection. I think that man holds him to a higher standard. I think that it is more broken trust that an un-met standard of God. Now I am not trying to justify what this man did, but I am saying that I don't think God held him to a higher standard. I think that too many Christians think that they can do this and that, but a pastor couldn't. I think I have gone 100 different directions with this paragraph, so please forgive me. I am going to stop before I confuse myself too much.

I hope I made sense in this post.

WES ELLIS said...

it made sense Ashley, good post.