I have had this particular blog in my draft queue for at least 6 months. I have written, deleted, rewritten and edited it more that any blog I have posted to date. Why? Because I am concerned that someone will read it and think it is about her. Or him. And, in fact, it is, because it is about all of us. So please, read these words carefully and allow the Scripture to speak to you and the Holy Spirit to convict, encourage, and teach. May God bless you as you read the words I am led to write.
I love the sense of community + family that you get in church. I love breaking bread with these people, joining them in their work, and coming alongside in times of need. When we gather with people we know this well, we can trust that they are going to be themselves and that means not only that we can be ourselves, but that they will be who we know them to be. We were present for their collective births, baptisms, and marriages. We have joyfully celebrated with them and we have ministered to them them in their grief.
It's almost the same way with our closest friends. You know, the friend you really know. The one you know so well that you recognize something that would be perfect for her house, or you know the necklace she would really like her husband to give her for Christmas. The one who makes the Friends & Family list on your cell. That friend.
Friends like those are rare and precious and you realize it! You include them and their family in your prayers and you look forward to the next time you see them- knowing that you can discuss politics, faith, money, and shoe styles with ease because- well because you know them.
Until the day you don't.
Until the day you get the phone call that rocks you.
Until the day you have to remind yourself to breathe.
Until the day you have to face your friend's humanity, your friend's sin.
We all sin. (Romans 3:23) All of us. Those of us who are saved readily admit that fact. But often we admit it the same way we admit that we eat too much, we don't exercise enough, and we should keep better bank records. We mentally hit the "play" button and let the statement come out: "Oh, we're all sinners!"
But do we believe the horror of our own capacity for sin?
Because it's there. It's real. And it's the ugliest of the ugly. Yet we still remain shocked at how vile it is. We are appalled at how sin can change a person to the point of being practically unrecognizable.
We think we know someone, but only God knows our heart.
I have faced sin in my own life. And because I am human, I will again.
I have confessed those sins to a just and merciful God and He has forgiven me. Jesus' death on the cross freed me from having to pay the price for the sins I have committed. I have repented. I am redeemed. Praise God! Praise God! But let me tell you, even though I know what it is like to sin, and even though I know that my sins are no better or worse that anyone else's, it is still almost too much to bear when I learn that a friend or a brother or sister in Christ has committed and is continuing to be involved in sin. And it is happening more and more. To believers. Prayer warriors. Bible students. And Bible teachers. It's happening to the very ones you would go to - run to - for your own wise counsel.
My God, what is happening in our churches?
And then I remember: we're human. And we sin. And it is awful and raw and horrific and destructive and it will just about take you down and paralyze you- but God. God is there to supply your needs and to fill your lungs with air when it has been sucked right out of you. God is there to hold you up and to hold your heart. God is there with His Word that can fill your thoughts so that your human mind doesn't race to dark places. God is there to pull your loved one, your friend, you, out of the sin and into His arms.
But there has to be an admission of guilt, a request for forgiveness, and a time of repentance. Without it, it's just another day.
I have had the sad opportunity to comfort, counsel, and confront the heartbroken and the heart breaker. I have seen sin and what it does to those around it. It cannot be treated like a broken bone that can be set or a cut that can be bandaged. This "illness" is the product of a mastermind who is plotting to attack at the very core of each of us. Consider the area where you are strongest: that area is the goal of the enemy. Right there. He comes to kill and destroy and he will stop only when defeated by the only one Who can win against him: Jesus. (John 10:10) But we have to ask for help. And we have to allow Him to to have His way in our lives. Not on our terms, but His.
So what to we do when we come face-to-face with sin? First, sisters, we need to pray. We need to pray for ourselves: that we will remain strong in our own walk. We have to constantly seek Him and His will for our lives so that we are not pulled down into sin as well. We need to pray for our spouse: that he will remain strong and that our communication remains open. We must pray for our pastors, for our church family -- let them keep Christ at the center of everything they say and do. Pray hard, because I am here to tell you that
And second, a very close second, we need to love. We need to show the love of Christ while at the same time rejecting the sin. We can show Christ's compassion and still maintain our own strong character and godliness by staying true to His word and following Christ's example of forgiveness. We have to be willing to say, "I know what you did and I am here to love you through this."
So don't give up. Keep praying. Pray like a life depends on it.
Because it does.