I usually love it when Pastor Raymond goes off on a tangent while he’s preaching. Tonight, however, when he got sidetracked in the middle a lecture on Nahum, I, along with the rest of the congregation, was left stunned and heartbroken.
It seems a teenager in a sister church in town recently found herself to be with child. She and her parents stayed after services one Sunday for comfort and counseling. Her church family was very encouraging, promising to stand with her and help in any way they could.
The following Sunday, they went back. The girl, with her parents at her side, confessed that she just couldn’t do it. At her tender age, she wasn’t ready, or willing, to carry a child, or be a mother. She had “taken care of it.”
Wait, it gets worse.
The leaders were more than stunned; they were appalled. An emergency church conference was called, a vote was taken, and she and her family were forced to leave the fellowship.
Where was the love and forgiveness they are to show one another in the name of Him who they purport to represent? Where was Jesus to step in and ask "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her."*?
Perhaps instead of saying, “Go away, and don’t come back,” a more Christ-like response from her church might have been, “Go now and leave your life of sin."*
It is not our “job” as followers of Christ to condemn, but to comfort. It isn’t our right to judge, but it is our responsibility to love. Gentle correction and Spiritual instruction are the guidelines we are given on how to respond to wayward brothers and sisters.
When a certain ruler addressed Jesus as Good Teacher," Jesus answered, "Why do you call me good? ... No one is good - except God alone.* I’m disheartened to know that there are church leaders who take it upon themselves to decide who is "good" enough to be a part of their congregation. I’m also gladdened by Pastor Raymond’s response: as soon he heard the story, he grabbed the youth pastor and drove to the family’s home to assure them that there are still churches who strive to walk in Jesus’ steps and love with His heart.
What kind of Jesus do you follow: a rigid, unforgiving, Pharisaical leader, or a loving, forgiving, Prince of Peace?
John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (NIV)
* Scripture references, in order of appearance:
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