This week has been a hard week for many in the denomination that I’ve grown to love. More good men have stepped down from ministry due to moral failure. It's not the first, nor will it be the last, but each time it triggers an old wound that takes me to my knees.
I woke up Monday to a text conversation that shook me to my core. Anxiety filled my bones, my heart sank, and tears streamed down my cheeks. I was physically sick over what I had read. I talked to a few close confidants and decided to give myself a day. Take the day away from social media. Take the day to grieve however I needed. Just take a day to remember, reflect, and wallow a bit. But then the sun would set like it always does, and when a new day would dawn His faithfulness would too.
Tuesday came and it was time to put my hand to the plow and reflect my maker. The work of grief and redemption is hard work, but it’s also holy.
I woke up and looked at my worn-out Bible, with its frayed seams and broken binding; such a faithful old friend. I didn’t open it, I just stood there staring at it, thinking about the Gospel story in its entirety. I was reminded how it’s in these hard moments when Christ's restorative work takes my breath away. And as I sat there thinking about the greatest story ever known to man, I couldn't get over the people God chose to use in this world's redemptive plan:
Moses, Abraham, David, Rahab, Saul/Paul, Peter, and many more like them.
Our hodgepodge heroes of the faith were prostitutes, liars, doubters, adulterers, and murderers (just to name a few). Not to mention, when Jesus walked this earth He ate with tax collectors, suspect women, and sinners, people like you and me. And when the Pharisees, the religious rule-followers, rolled their eyes about the company He kept, Jesus replied, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick… I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
You see, when one of our good men falls it’s easy to doubt if they were ever good at all. It’s easy to get angry, point fingers, and allow a seed of self-righteousness take root. But brothers and sisters, that Pharisaical mindset is futile. Give yourself time to be wounded, but a right view of sin knows that none of us are good at all. A right theology of sin and redemption knows that this side of glory, we are all broken people in need of a great Savior and until Christ comes again we are all susceptible to Satan’s lies.
When good men fall, we don’t stand on pedestals, being thankful that we’re unlike them. We recognize that we’re all in equal standing at the foot of the cross and that Jesus didn’t come to save the righteous; he came for the messed-up sinners in need of a great physician.
When our leaders, our coworkers, our church members fall, we sit with them at the feet of Jesus, relishing in the good news that we serve a God who loves a repentant heart. YAHWEH is a God who forgives, heals, and redeems. And if our YAHWEH is big enough to redeem mankind in its entirety, He can heal the brokenness that is so pervasive in our relationships, churches, denominations, and our own hearts.
When good men fall, we remind ourselves that none of us are good enough and that our righteousness, every good deed we can muster, is as filthy rags. When Scripture says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy,” we recognize that the holiness that we proclaim is Christ’s, not our own!
When good men fall we proclaim the Good News that it doesn’t matter how bad, how ugly, how devastating your world gets, our God is a Redeemer. He is faithful like the setting sun, and His mercies are new every morning. He turns mourning into laughter, and makes beauty out of the ashes of our lives. And redemption has always been His plan from the beginning of time.
So, when good men fall, we remind ourselves of truth on these darks days. We retell the greatest story ever known to man. We speak redemption over our wounds and theirs. We do the hard and holy work of repentance and restoration because it is an outpouring of our shared redemption story. We put our hands to the plow and let love drive our every word and deed. And years later, when the work of repentance and forgiveness and love and justice and redemption have had their way with our hearts, I can promise you that you will be able to stand like Joseph and proclaim, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.” Even when a good man falls.