Case Study #1:
The first person, who is a male, works as a travel agent in a US city. I came about knowing him through a work relationship. He is homosexual and from several discussions maintained via email - he has revealed the hurt that has driven him to that place. That is no excuse, on my part, for my sin or his, just a knowledge of where he is at.
He told me that he was abused as a young boy by, what I'll call a 'supposed', minister of the gospel. He was 12 y/o and had been invited into this man's home and to go with him as they would travel on evangelistic missions. This 'boy' would preach and minister in the name of Jesus and then behind the scenes would be abused by the man. Really, I'll point out here that this isn't to say that all pastors are, at the core of them, grubby - power hungry - control freaks who can only operate in that frame of reference. Many are beautiful examples of faithful obedience to God's word.
But, imagine for a moment that you were the 'boy' in this scenario. How would you feel about the church? About ministers in general? About God? This is the power of these things that these abusers hold toward those who are under their care. Don't think that for a moment Jesus would just pass it off like, it was nothing, in fact, the opposite is true, think of Luke 17:2, that isn't a pretty picture meant to conjure up fuzzy feelings. The combination of religious pride and power abuse sickened the Son of Man and it should sicken us!
Case Study #2:
The second person, is a female, I won't go into detail about my relationship with her, seriously, nothing inappropriate, it would be just in case she would read this. Her father was a pastor, again, role of authority and abusive.
He was not a sexual abuser but would kick, discipline with an electrical cord, slap, punch and generally would emotionally manipulate her. She, being one of the older in the family, would take most of the abuse for the younger kids, literally standing in his way so he couldn't get to the other kids. Yes, I know, where was the mom? Well she was there, but, too afraid to say anything against the rage that would seethe from this man.
This woman has now been divorced 3 times, had one affair, 3 abortions, you don't think there is some power exercising authority over her? Again, I'm not saying that there is any excuse for her sin or mine for that matter. Many conversations have revealed more abuse and continued reminders, in her own mind, about the nature of what she went through.
Okay, here is my main point, what ministry opportunities are we wasting away because we're not looking past the surface level disobedience. Passing them off as nominal Christians, not extending grace or a smile because, hey, they aren't being obedient. What God needs is obedient followers, he is "purifying" his church. I would say, "Yes and Amen", but he does it through humility and love. Asked by a brother recently, "Unity, at what cost?", well, it cost the Son of God his life, have we really given that much?
Do we love our brother or sister to the point of sticking with them in, "steadfast love", like in Psalm 42: 5, 11 remember, he was still in the same position in v. 11 as in v. 5. These are both still professing Christians and I feel they are because of the misery of their lives. I've asked both, point blank, "Do you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and Saviour of the world, especially you?" They both have answered in the affirmative, working that out is the question, "how does that faith inform your actions?". They don't need the stiff arm and walk away with our platitudes about how only if they would know God the way we do they wouldn't be there. Are you willing to stick with them so that they see that in living color?
You may be thinking of someone right now who you need to reach out to even right now. Maybe you are the living extension of the grace of God that will lead them back to see the Cross of Christ. Isn't that what we all need? Desiring to meet you, "At the foot of the Cross".
Boasting in what Jesus does, His Cross -