"See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God"
In the church we have for long idolized our ‘heroes’ of the faith and told ourselves and those around us that this was the goal. In Sunday school we heard stories of the boy David who with only a sling and stone killed a giant. We marvel at the strength of men like Samson who killed a small town with only bones in hand. We hear fiery sermons telling us that we should, like Peter, leave our nets at the shore and at once become fishers of men. We tell these stories and make for ourselves men who, if Stan Lee were a Christian, would appear alongside the heroes of our youth mask in place and cape tightly fit.
We have done all this for many good reasons, but in doing this we have made heroes of men who saw that they were not. We have taken those who we aspire to be and have forgotten that Christ, not themselves, were the hero of their story. For Willie Nelson, his heroes have always been cowboys. But for me, my heroes have always been failures. And this past year has been a great reminder of such. In October of 2014 a great hero of mine, Mark Driscoll, stepped down from the church that he had started in 1996 and had pastored every day in-between. And today Pastor Tullian Tchivijian stepped down as the pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Florida.
These two men had a large part in shaping much of what I know believe about God and about His grace. They had become a player on the world stage of Christianity and folded under the pressure of being looked at like gods themselves (something that we as those who looked to them must repent of). These were men called by God, men who served God, and men who now and always are in dire need of the grace of God. But these men are not alone. They are like so many of the men that I hold dear to myself. My mind goes to Rich Mullins, the man who authored the great song Awesome God and was still an alcoholic. Or men such as Rich’s mentor and friend, Brennan Manning, who as an alcoholic himself and was kicked out of the ministry of the Catholic Church (my favorite Catholics have always been the ones kicked out) for his sin.
But for many people in the church, we feel the pull not to give the same grace we long for in our own failures and feel the need to point of the faults in others. We are quick to point out that there is a standard set for those who belong to the body of Christ and feel as though it is our place to ensure that these standards be met. I’m not saying that we should ignore any part of what God has given us in His word, on the contrary. I simply ask that we remember all of what it says. Can we call to mind that which Christ told to the great sinner St. Peter in Mathew 18:21-35, forgive one another seventy times seven times? Could we acknowledge that so many people have felt the conviction of the Spirit for their sins and now need not the stones of a mob but the love of a family.
Could we be honest with each other when it comes to our own sins? Can I be honest about the anger I felt this week? May I be bold enough to say that it was an honest struggle this past week not to look at the pornography that held me in bondage for so many years? Could I invite you to join me in saying that I have to wage war with myself to give all that I know God is calling me to for there is a greed that pulses through my veins? Dear Christian, may we let our stones drop knowing that the same one we hold have every right to strike both our fallen heroes and ourselves. May we join together and spend as much time praying for those we gossip and slander.
I ask you to join me in being honest. Let us all cry out with pride that all our heroes have always been failures, failures in need of grace…just like us.
So Mark, Tullian, you will most likely not read this. But if by chance you do…welcome to my fall of heroes. Join league of men like King David, Abraham, Peter, Paul, and so many more. For all the grace that God showed me from your lives I pray that you are able to see such grace now. I have been and will continue to pray for you both. For you are both still heroes to me, not because of how great you are but, because of the greatness of Him whom you proclaimed so beautifully.
"To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God's grace means."