Way, way back, when man walked with God in the cool of the day, sin entered the world. We could probably debate for a while as to whether it was the man’s fault or the woman’s fault – but either way, it happened. The result of the fall of man was more than just disobedience – it caused a fracture in the relationship that God had with man.
Man decided that he knew best – and took steps to prove that. God, having given man free will to choose allowed that choice to be made, whatever the consequences.
God did what was necessary – he killed an animal to cover the shame of the man and women and stepped back.
Relationships that are broken do not fix themselves. Something needs to change. Both sides need to invest in the relationship to make it work, to fix it.
Since the fall, God has been all about fixing the relationship that was broken when man sinned. Since this point in history, God’s primary purpose has been to restore mankind back to the relationship that we see in the garden of Eden.
The beauty of this is that it doesn’t matter what we have done, it doesn’t matter what mess we have made of our lives, or indeed the lives of others, if we truly repent, turn to Jesus and accept Him as Lord of our lives, He turns to us with open arms and welcomes us in to the family. All the benefits of being an adopted son are ours. God has a plan for each of us, and if one thing about that plan can be guaranteed it is that it is much much better than we think it could possibly be. We are meant to change the world as Christians, and with the Grace, Love and Power lavished on us by our Heavenly Father, we can.
What troubles me is that recently there has been an increase in some circles of the western church that seems to be choosing when and to whom they allow to benefit from such Grace. It seems that it does matter who you are, or rather what position you hold or the job that you do.
If you are a church leader and you mess up, especially if you try and hide that mess from your church you don’t qualify for the Grace that God offers. I’ve seen several reports recently about church leaders who have been removed from office due to sin (sometimes over a long period) and have been ostracised by the church at large. I’ve seen suggestions that they should remove themselves completely and never seek to lead a church again.
Now, I do believe that if there has been sin exposed it is only right and proper that the church request that the leader take some time away from leadership to reconnect with the Father, to restore their relationship with the one who is all about restoring relationships. If a marriage is struggling, one of the first suggestions made is that both parties should stop doing something that is taking lots of their time, and spend time working on their relationship.
I don’t see that it is different with church leaders. If there has been sin, especially habitual, hidden sin, something has clearly gone wrong in that relationship they had with God when they took office, and they need to spend time to restore that relationship.
If the relationship is restored, and true repentance has occurred, why does the church decide that God wouldn’t want them back? The message that is being sent to those outside the church is that repentance make no difference. The world already believes that God only wants those who appear pure. The fact that none of us are good enough without Jesus is lost from the world’s perspective (and it seems form sections of the church too)
If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8)
We have all messed up – we all need Jesus to help us, especially church leaders. I can’t help thinking that what Jesus would say to a church leader truly repentant is “Then neither do I condemn you, “Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.” (John 8:11)
Surely if Jesus isn’t going to condemn them, neither should we.
(just for the record, I don’t think this is just for church leaders, it is for all of us that find ourselves short of what is required. It is just that it was articles about church leaders that got me thinking)