Posted by fallenpastor | Posted in church, criticize, gossip, relationships, sin | Posted on 30-04-2012
You’re a Christian. You just got caught embezzling money. You got caught cheating on your spouse. You got caught lying to a large group of people about your true nature. Everyone just found out that you’re an alcoholic.
Worst part? You’re a member of a large church. Everyone knows you and respects you. Past tense: Respected you.
Now, your sin is out there for everyone to see.
Your sin gets exposed in several different ways. You may come forward with it on your own. You confess to your spouse, your church and to your friends, hoping for a restoration to a Christian walk. That doesn’t happen very often. When it does, sometimes it turns out well.
Maybe you get caught. When you get caught, it might make front page news. Maybe you get arrested. Maybe the phone lines burn up with words like, “Can you believe _________ did ___________? Unbelievable!”
What you will learn quickly is who your friends are.
The Christian community is called to restore those who fall. Galatians 6:1 cannot be any clearer: Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.
Unfortunately, in many churches in our world, the idea of restoration has been mixed with a TMZ idea of scandal and soap opera drama. Instead of rushing to the sinner’s side, many parishoners sit on their hands and wait to see what will happen next. When the faintest wafting of gossip comes their way, the prayer chain is jammed with misinformation.
Members don’t bring covered dishes, they stand back with disdain and judgment.
Why does this type of attitude remain in our churches? I’ve written about it in my book, but it has to be said over and over again if we are to attempt to restore the sinners in our midst. If they aren’t worth saving, who is?
Many people look down on a sinner because it gives them a chance to say, “I’m better than they are.” It’s like we can all line ourselves up from most devious to most righteous. But that doesn’t work in God’s economy. The justification of Christ means that all Christians stand holy before God. When any of us commit a sin, we are forgiven. He still holds us fast in His hand and forgives us when we ask.
Many look down on us because they see how close they are to the same sin. Our own sin exposes their sinful hearts. We are each capable of the most heinous sins if we do not stand guard and give ourselves to the Spirit.
When a member falls, when a member sins, make haste to their side. Even if they don’t answer right away. Even if they distance themselves from you. Even if they don’t return your calls or texts. Approach them in love, not judgment. Let them know you love them. Treat them like the person they were before. They need to know they are loved. God is the one who will work on their hearts. Trust God to do His work and you stand by and walk with them.
And as my mother used to say, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”