“Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant Reformation, summed up the Christian’s ongoing battle with sin this way, the Christian is ‘at one and the same time a sinner and a righteous person. He is a sinner in fact, but a righteous person by the sure reckoning and promise of God that he will continue to deliver him from sin until he has completely cured him. And so he is totally healthy in hope, but a sinner in fact. He has the beginning of righteousness, and so always continues more and more to seek it, while realizing that he is always unrighteous.'” – Gayle Haggard, “On Sin and the Christian”
You’ve probably heard of the Haggards. Ted was the lead pastor at New Life Church until a few years ago when his private life suddenly became public. The disappointing news of his indiscretions sent shock waves through the evangelical world! If you really want to read about Ted’s struggle, you will have no problem finding plenty of news (and opinions) on the web.
Gayle has demonstrated radical grace in her forgiveness and support of her husband. She even wrote a book called “Why I Stayed.” I recently found this article written by Gayle Haggard and published on www.catalystspace.com. It’s called “On Sin and the Christian.”
Gayle finishes her article with some challenging thoughts. You can tell she knows from which she speaks. She’s walked through fire with Ted and has chosen to call the Church to a greater measure of grace! Check out what she says:
“We preach that we have an adversary, the devil, who seeks to destroy us. We teach about the frailty of human flesh and the sins that so easily beset us. So why are we shocked when the devil gets a punch in or develops a foothold that leads to a stronghold or at the wretchedness of our own sin natures. Instead we should do the very thing that Jesus gives us the power to do, offer forgiveness and reconciliation to those who have become sick or weak or trapped in sin. Rather than amputating such members from the Body, might we use the strength of the Body to heal? Perhaps then and only then, will those who present a righteous front, while silently suffering in their own disappointment and disillusionment, come forward, confess their sins, receive the help they need, be set free, and be healed. In other words, Christians would be free to pursue repentance, the kind based on the security of knowing God loves them, without fear of penalty from their brothers.”
“As it stands now, we reward those who keep their sins hidden and punish those who step forward to repent. And no one is the better for it. There is something terribly wrong with this picture.”
Please don’t miss Gayle’s insistence on “waging war against sin” which she talks about earlier in the article. She is not advocating a “free-for-all” of sin and selfishness. Quite the contrary. She is calling her fellow brothers and sisters in Christ back to a standard of righteousness all the while calling us out for the way we sit in judgment over those caught in the clutches of sin. She speaks from experience. She’s lived in the badlands of betrayal and brokenness. Yet she’s chosen to tread the path of restoration. This is a tremendous story of grace as well as an important reminder to each and every one of us that grace is most amply applied when least deserved. Thanks, Gayle, for your graphic display of grace.