This has been on my mind for some time. I must confess that I have been very guilty of this in my life and I have done it more times than I would want to admit. The Christian community has been accused of killing their wounded. Some would even say that we rejoice when one of our own stumbles, falls, or sins smashingly. What happened to us? How did things get this way?
I trace my own issues with this to my early days of being a Christian. My salvation was a miracle because I was so deeply addicted to pornography, sex, and everything that goes with it. Thank God the Internet was not around then! I was so conscious of God’s power that I could not get enough preaching, teaching, and Church. I grew to become obsessed with righteousness, and took great pride in those earnestly contending for the faith, and great offense toward those who were not living holy and were not as “committed” as I.
God’s grace and mercy are the foundation of my life. As the old hymn says “If it had not been for the Lord on my side tell me where would I be?” I, like many, lost sight of the fact that it is not by works of righteousness that I have done, but according to his mercy that he saved me AND keeps me. God showed me his love and kindness, and I in turn showed judgment and condemnation.
Two things happened during these days that were regrettable. I negatively impacted one of my best friends during my early Christian days. She knew all of my dirt and I knew all of hers. After I got saved, I waited awhile then I went to her house and blasted her. “If you don’t repent of your sins and believe in Christ you are going to die and go to hell” No talk of God’s love, his mercy, or his grace. Needless to say that conversation caused a rift that lasted several years until I came to my senses. You see, sin is a reality and separates us from a holy God. But what is the Gospel message? Jesus said
“17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
We do not condemn because the person that does not know Christ is condemned already. That is why we present THE GOOD NEWS! God loves you! He died for you! He wants what is best for you! He made you to have a relationship with you!
There was this guy that I knew that used to visit several churches, but was not committed to any one in particular. My old pastor used to admonish him to commit to one church for his benefit and accountability. Well one of his friends happened to see him out one evening and saw him enter a questionable store. His “brothers” and “friends” later set up a sting operation to see if he was engaging in sinful behavior. When he came out of the establishment a small gaggle of men confronted him about his behavior (like a scene out of Cheaters). He was found a few months later dead in his home. Could it have been stress? A broken heart over how his brothers confronted him and publicly humiliated him?
Here is the core issue. Two Wednesdays ago at church David Stevens spoke about the woman caught in adultery. The crowd of men that brought her to Jesus called for her death. Jesus instead called for the crowd to self-reflect on the condition of their lives. “He that is without sin among you cast the first stone.” No one could. Jesus asked her where her accusers were and she responded that she had none (because they had all walked away, being convicted by their own consciences). Jesus said neither do I condemn you. Go and sin no more. The crowd was so zealous to condemn her, yet they were equally guilty!
So that’s what the church does. Condemn instead of forgive. Kill the wounded. Speak against some one’s sins, struggles, and falls instead of seeking restoration for the fallen. It is because of pride, fear of man, and image consciousness. Somewhere along the way we became afraid to associate with the struggling because we did not want to be labeled like the struggling saint. We did not want to be seen as condoning sin. However, that is what the incarnation was all about! Jesus identifying with the realities of our humanity. Our hurts, our struggles, our temptations, our failures. The Bible says that he was not ashamed to call us his brothers and sisters (Hebrews 2:11). I thank God that my sin was not too great, and is not too great for God to forgive! He is not ashamed of me. He in fact loves me dearly. That is why we have to change our message, methods, and mindsets concerning Jesus, his words, and his ways. God has called us to the ministry of reconciliation. People continuously being brought back to a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ.