But in our time something new has been added. What Moses and the prophets witnessed to all those years has happened. The God-setting-things-right that we read about has become Jesus-setting-things-right for us. And not only for us, but for everyone who believes in him. For there is no difference between us and them in this. Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity he put us in right standing with himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where he always wanted us to be. And he did it by means of Jesus Christ.
God sacrificed Jesus on the altar of the world to clear that world of sin. Having faith in him sets us in the clear. God decided on this course of action in full view of the public—to set the world in the clear with himself through the sacrifice of Jesus, finally taking care of the sins he had so patiently endured. This is not only clear, but it’s now —this is current history! God sets things right. He also makes it possible for us to live in his rightness. (Romans 3:21-26 MSG)
I have sinned and my sin has hurt so many people that there have been moments that I have experienced unbearable pain. The entry that you are about to read is not a defense of my sin but a cry for forgiveness from the depths of pain, my pain. Please hear, as you read, a plea for acceptance, not for approval. What I did was horribly wrong and I ask for your forgiveness. I realize that I have been an embarrassment to my friends, my family and my profession. I pray that that which was intended for harm will turn out for our good and His glory.
This entry was written in the spring of this year.
We hate some persons because we do not know them and we will not know them because we hate them. - Charles Caleb Colton
What is it that causes one criminal to cease stealing? Why does one drug addict suddenly say enough? At what point does one alcoholic decide to fight the disease? Why do any of us finally come to the end of poor choices? I should be able to give a sensible answer to these questions but I still find it difficult to commit to one simple answer because I don't think there is one.
Because some people never quit, others relapse and some die prematurely which makes no sense at all to me. I can say that transformation requires a lot of work and sometimes it's just too tiring, so I guess that it seems easier to let life play out following the same rules that we've always lived by--the rules that wrecked our lives.
I'm a different man today than I've ever been in my life because I have established new rules for living and there is still so much of me that I want to change. Oh, nobody is requiring more of me but me. I know that there is more junk in me than what has already come out of me. I also realize that the process of life-change continues until life is no more.
What can I do now to give expression to my hearts pull to continue my quest to make an impact on a world that I love? I am actually a better man today than I was ten years ago when the church that I built was thriving and yet God decided that He would let me thrive anyway. So, why wouldn't he do a repeat performance today? Is it because of one sin? Hold it! I was a sinner back then as well. But, I guess the difference is that I was a "common sinner". Or, at least my sin(s) were common and looked like most other people's indiscretions. I hadn't yet dropped the "A-Bomb". Think about it.
Anyway, I am still astonished by our categorical treatment and judgment of others who sin differently than we do. I think that I will create a new name for this global problem. I will call it "Sinism". Maybe my new word "Sinism" will be Oxford's next Word of the Year.
My definition of "Sinism" (Which you won't find in Webster's Dictionary or any dictionary for that matter): The rejection of others based on their sin, which differs from our own. It's really not that much different than "racism".
There seem to be sins and people that we are just not comfortable with and we avoid them all in the name of our own weaknesses and prejudices.
Just because someone has a different skin color than us doesn't mean that they should be looked at differently or treated differently. I have found that there are certain sins that are treated with the same lack of tolerance as a person of a different race. I know because I committed one such sin. What a tragedy, to be judged just because of a difference. After all we are ALL born sinners. I would only request that I not be judged just because my sin is different than yours.
I have felt loved by so many people and for that I am extremely grateful. But, rejection and judgment of any type, by many or few, doesn't hurt any less. Simply put, please don't judge me just because I sin differently than you. I have found that we even say things that placate our own consciences to satisfy the internal conflict created by our own prejudices. You know the comments, "One of my best friends is African American". I feel like some people say things about people like me, "Hey, one of my good friends is an adulterer", which is for code for "I want you to believe that I love sinners." But they never come around, at least not until they want to be seen as a friend of a sinner like me.
I have never been afraid of identifying with sinners or people of different races. In fact my beautiful daughter-in-law is African American and I remain a friend of sinners and I'm in love with both. I love all people and I will not let what a few others might think of me cause me to become a "sinist" or a "racist". The real test of Christian faith and good friends lies just weeks, or at most months ahead. Will those who have known me for a very long time see my gift or my sin? Will my peers accept me back into ministry or will I simply be a faint, peripheral dot on the ecclesiastical radar of my great profession?
This is a very important point to ponder before you commit to an answer. You probably remember the saying "Talk is cheap". Words like "I love you" mean very little without actions that agree. I guess you could say that I'm bracing myself for future responses that I may find as difficult as my time in ministry exile. I'm about to type something that is sure to solicit as many opinions as there are fish in the sea or grains of sand on the world’s seashores. Here it goes, wait for it…."This has been a tough journey".
There, I said it. Now, here it comes, those famous statements from cynics, "SINISTS" and religious folks:
“You made your bed, now lie in it”.
“Hey. It’s all your fault, why are you whining?”
“You reap what you sow!”
“You cooked your goose.”
“You deserve what you got.”
The list of potential responses to sin is endless, especially to those who sin like I did. I can only say how grateful I am for authentic believers who have put their walk where their talk is. I have only stood on one stage since April 20th of 2014 and that was to publicly repent to the beautiful people of the church that I planted in Africa several years ago. I want to thank my African church family for giving me that privilege. I must say that I am more than a little nervous, as that day will soon become a reality in the land of the free (USA) when I will once again be a mouthpiece for God's glory. Will I find "true" freedom or merely receive a politically correct response?
In spite of what people might think or what might be ascribed to my reasoning, I remain a strong advocate for restoration and reinstatement for the adulterer. I've heard church leaders say that there is no precedent for the reinstatement of the adulterer to his church. Then I remember that there was a day when there was no precedent for reinstatement for the divorced pastor. Nor was there a precedent for women preachers and teachers in the church, they could only teach Sunday School. Thank God someone decided to establish new precedents for the latter two. I'm sure that it took courage to make those changes. I'm feeling a little Martin Luther King Jr. coming on me. So, I will write my own “I Have a Dream” speech.
I have a dream that one day the sinner (adulterous leader) and the saint will stand together hand in hand in worship to God together without malice, shame or judgment.
I have a dream that one day a leader’s love for power will yield to the power of love for their fallen colleagues.
I have a dream that one day the church member and the church leader will no longer be judged differently by the category of their sin but by the content of their broken hearts filled with repentance.
I have a dream that one day the blood of Christ will flow THROUGH the church like a river, with force and with forgiveness into the valley of human sin, even adultery.
I have a dream that one day the stain of human sin will pale in comparison to a cross stained by the blood of the One who died for such sin.
I have a dream that one day the unchaste Christian leader will not fade into the darkness of a fallen world but will rise once again in houses of worship shining the bright light of God's redemption and restoration.
I have a dream that one day the voices of the silent fallen will once again ring loud in cathedrals of grace, declaring the greatness of our God.
I have a dream that the words written in red "neither do I condemn thee" will leap off the pages of the Holy Bible and into the holy hearts and mouths of today's Christian leaders.
I have a dream that I will once again be one of those leaders.
I conclude with a direct quote from Dr. King's speech:
"I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together."
THANK YOU DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. FOR YOUR GREAT INSPIRATION TO US ALL.