For an Informed Love of God
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Grace and the Church
I was going to write a Greek blog in ποιημα, but I saw an interview on TV a couple days ago and I can’t stop thinking about it, and I need your input to help me understand.
It was an interview on the Mike Huckabee Report. He interviewed Gayle Haggard, the wife of pastor Ted Haggard and author of Why I Stayed: The Choices I Made in My Darkest Hour. Her husband was the founder of the 14,000-member New Life Church in Colorado Springs and was president of the National Association of Evangelicals. If you don’t already know, he admitted to an incident with a male prostitute.
Huckabee was talking to her mostly about forgiveness. He asked what was the most painful thing that happened. Her answer was fascinating. Certainly learning of the event was painful. Her children’s loss of dignity was hurtful. She said that she had received many kind and encouraging emails from homosexual men and Christians, and many cruel and hateful emails from homosexual men and Christians. Her conclusion: people are people.
But the event that hurt the most was their forced separation from the church and the people that they had loved for 22 years.
I don’t want to get into a debate of the incident or any of the particulars. But I do have one question for you. Isn’t the church, of all places, supposed to be the single greatest place of grace and healing and forgiveness? Yes, there are consequences to sin. Yes, there is loss of trust. Yes, betrayal is hard.
But where were they to turn? Where were they to go? Where were they to look for help in personal and corporate reconciliation?
Again, let me emphasize that I don’t know the details of what or how the church handled the situation, but I find myself scratching my head wondering why they were not allowed contact with the very body of Christ that should have been the greatest source of joy and comfort and grace and confrontation and love and discipline. Should not those of us who have truly received God’s grace in Christ Jesus be the first and the best at extending grace to others? Did not Jesus come to call sinners to repentance?
I am sure there are many good churches out there. But in the last two years I have heard hundreds of stories that make me nauseous, stories that show how hundreds of churches know nothing of grace.
My personal conclusion is that if a person is incapable of extending grace to others, that he or she has never truly experienced God’s personal grace in their life.
Why oh why are so many of our churches devoid of the one thing that should distinguish us from the rest of world: grace. I would like to hear from you why.
The question is not rhetorical.