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?