It was the mid 1980s. There was a spiritual housecleaning going on in the church that made the nightly news, almost every night. Televangelist after televangelist going down, one by one, each grabbing their brothers along the way with an I’m-not-taking-the-blame-by-myself flurry. It was embarrassing to be a Christian. The magazines had pictures and the stories got worse by the second. It was a circus of riidiculousness, immorality, cover-ups, finger-pointing, ministry-stealing and accusation. The Body turned on itself like an auto-immune disease. Instead of protecting itself against the enemy, it started cutting and lashing out and over-medicating, using the Holy Word of God to beat itself.
I have old videotape of the top TV (perfect) preacher of the day saying to Ted Koppel, “[this other TV preacher] is a cancer that needs to be excised from the Body of Christ.” In less than 3 months, perfect-preacher had been exposed, too, for his own sexual sin.
His prescription for the other preacher: Excise him from the Body of Christ. Cut him out. He is gone. Get rid of the sin.
His prescription for himself, you ask? Excision? No. Hardly. He asked for forgiveness. Just forgive me and let me keep my church and ministry.
My sister-in-law, Robin, who is an amazing wife, mother and Word-loving writer and teacher, wrote about Easter on her blog last week, but the lense through which she wrote is a strong word to the Household of Faith. Her family has been through the hailstorm of disintegration this past year (my people, I love them deeply), and they have had to walk it mostly alone, for exposed sin caused their local spiritual family to shut doors, pull in tighter, excise the sin. This isn’t a rant against that local gathering, for they are no different than local bodies the world over who don’t understand what they have unleashed when they handle what seems too hard to handle.
I am judgemental, too. I am black and white. I am right or wrong. I don’t judge this local church in this particular story because I know they are trying to do what is right (though o-my-goodness it is all only by the blood, people). But I challenge them to walk out Galatians 6. Because? I have seen what I have seen. I have experienced what I have experienced. When the “perfect preacher” lashed out against the imperfect, it did him no good. Old enough now to have seen it time and time again.
1 Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted. 2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. GALATIANS 6.1-2 NIV
Robin wrote three amazingly insightful and revealing blog posts. Please read them all. If you have ever judged some one else harshly, read them. If you have ever been “shut out” by the “offcials” in the family of God, read them. If you have ever turned your back on some one whose sin seemed too much to handle, read them. If you have ever cried alone, divorced from the family by accusation or because you truly had let them down in sin, read them. Because we have. to. grow. up.
Auto-immune diseases are an inappropriate attack by your immune system against your very own body, against the very cells and tissues needed to live. The enemy cackles to watch us destroy ourselves.
Restore the one overtaken by sin. That simple. That hard. That messy. That inescapable. Invest in your own future by doing it.
I love you, Robin.