I heard of the fall of one of my favorite preachers this week. This isn’t new. Let’s face it. Hardly a week or month goes by without hearing some gossip of those in “Christian Leadership” around the globe. Embezzlement, adultery, immorality, or things that were laid at the feet of the cross at salvation rear their ugly heads to mock us.
What was new, is that I heard about this preacher’s adultery from his own fingers. While looking for a way to purchase one of his sermons, I found his blog and my heart is broken for him and his family.
His repentance is beautiful. He doesn’t pretend that saying “sorry” fixes all wrongs. He doesn’t pretend that his actions weren’t directly responsible for the destruction of families and trust within the church. He takes full responsibility- almost to a fault. It’s beautiful. I read every single solitary post and comment on his blog and a few things struck me that have been filling my mind and heart this week.
There is no justification anywhere on that blog. He rarely mentions his wife at all but even when she is elluded to, it is never with even the slightest hint that she bears any blame. This is so beautiful and so rare. I’m sure he’s had moments where he wanted to say something- anything- to shift the blame for just a bit. Let’s face it, generally the blame gets shifted to the ones closest and dearest to us. He didn’t do it. I couldn’t find a single instance. I am blessed by this.
He is facing his guilt head-on. He knows he is forgiven. He knows that the blood of Jesus cleanses away all unrighteousness. If anyone knows the power of Jesus over Satan and sin, it is this man. However, he’s human. We have a harder time forgiving ourselves than God does. It’s kind of arrogant, I admit. Who are we to pretend that our grief over our sin is greater than the Lord’s!
The holy, Almighty of Heaven is so pure that it takes the Holy Spirit to make our prayers acceptable in His presence! The sad truth though, is that it is a fact of our humanity. We weren’t created to be sinners. We were created to be in perfect fellowship with the Lord. This by-product of the fall is very real. We have a hard time forgiving ourselves.
So this man, like most of us, is facing his guilt. Facing it head-on. He’s not hiding from it or stamping it down as if he can just stand on it long enough to keep it from rearing its ugly head again.
Guilt is like this weed we have here in the desert. We call it “Devil Grass.” It’s an appropriate name. You can poison it, pull it, chop it, salt it, and no matter what else you try, it always comes back. Most of us pretend it isn’t there. We just mow it down and hope it doesn’t take over the lawn.
I love how this man doesn’t wallow in his guilt making him a martyr and yet he does face it. He doesnt’ pretend it isn’t there. He’s real. I love his reality.
He’s using his experience to serve the body of Christ. So often, preachers and pastors and others in Christian Leadership tend to just try to disappear into the crowd. They try to escape from the public eye because let’s face it, who wants to be the object of finger pointers the world ’round? No matter where they go, someone is waiting to point and whisper behind hands about his failing. It doesn’t matter if it was two years ago, five years ago, ten years ago, or more. It doesn’t matter that he prostrated himself before the church and has shown himself fully repentant. He’ll never live it down.
Isn’t that almost ironic? The sin of gossip apparently only applies if you’re not gossipping about someone else’s sin. Huh?
As Christians, I think we are so aware of our fallibility that we have no tolerance for it in anyone. As one commenter on the blog put it (paraphrased by me), “It is as if the church is sanitizing itself from any chance of being affected by sinners.” This has spurred a new book idea that I’m going crazy to start but I have committed to finishing Alexa 2 and nothing, even this story swirling in my head, is going to stop me. I think.
Gossip, especially when speaking of the truth, is poisonous. It kills relationships, communities, and sickens souls. The older I get, the more strictly I define it and the less patience I have with it. To see the actual wounds and scars on a beloved preacher due to it has affected me in ways I cannot imagine. Don’t misunderstand me. I know that there are others wounded by the source of the gossip. Their pain matters too! But must we increase the damage done with our own tongues? In the words of Paul, “God forbid!”
And finally, it is such a little thing and a little off topic but it blessed me so I’m putting it here. It’s this preacher’s response to comments on his blog. He answers every single comment in the comment, in bold. Every person who says a thing is acknowledged. I’ve always wanted my commenters to know how important they are to me but posting in my comment thing felt awkward- even a little arrogant. I now know how to do it and want to thank him for another way he’s been a fine example in my life.
I’ve been the brunt of gossip myself. Some of it true, some of it false, and of course the usual half-truth. Fortunately for me, I have parents who drilled it into my head that it doesn’t matter what other peope think. It matters what the Lord thinks. That has kept me from burying myself in guilt and shame over things that were my fault and from becoming incensed about the false accusations we all deal with at some point in our lives.
I’d love to challenge everyone. Send a note, a card, a letter, an email, or comment on the blog of a hurting brother or sister in Christ today. If they need forgiveness, extend it. If they need their wounds tended and nursed, be a Samaritan. Nurse them. Whatever you do, support the church’s walking wounded today. The church has a very bad rap for kicking our people when they’re down. Let’s reverse that reputation and do it today.