Because life is a series of edits

Grace (the Amazing Kind)

In Church on November 5, 2006 at 11:03 pm

I feel somewhat compelled to offer a few thoughts on the goings-on involving Ted Haggard in Colorado Springs. Having lived in the Springs for twelve years and knowing quite a few folks involved at New Life Church, it’s a bit surreal to see the impact of the indiscretion(s) from here in St. Louis, as well as throughout the world (BBC News had it on their homepage all day). Everybody loves a scandal, I suppose.

As there have been several helpful posts already written (this one from pastor Mark Driscoll, this one from theologian Ben Witherington, and this one from Megan are three I’d recommend), I’ll try not to be redundant. But the thought that keeps going through my head is that grace will prevail. In many ways, I would argue, it already has.

Reading Haggard’s statement, I can imagine his shame, but I can also imagine his relief that he is no longer hiding his sin. Numbers 32 illustrates the principle that “your sin will find you out.” Granted, in Haggard’s case, his sin is more out in the open than any of us will (hopefully) ever experience, but as with all sin, its power over us is in its hiddenness and not in its disclosure. This is why James encourages us to “confess your sins to one another” (James 5:16). Sin can’t survive in the light; it only thrives in the dark.

It is the grace of God that brought/allowed this to be brought to the light – even at the expense of God’s own name, even at the expense of His church. While His name and church will suffer as a result, it will not suffer to the point of death. Jesus already did that – for Haggard, for Jones, for you, for me. Thus, God is not up in Heaven wringing His hands as to what people think of Him because of any of this. The horn has not sounded; the game is not over.

Actually, if you’re keeping score, grace has already won. In fact, my guess is that Haggard is probably beginning to experience a taste of that victory for the first in a very, very long time as a result of all this. Jesus said in Luke 7:47 that “he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Haggard apparently has had much to be forgiven of (who of us hasn’t?), but he has also experienced much love in the form of forgiveness for his sin. I’m confident he’ll respond accordingly.

By the quick decision of his overseers (which I applaud), there’s apparently no question that Haggard’s sin has biblically disqualified himself from pastoral ministry. There’s also no question the media will try to crucify him, especially in light of the upcoming election and his Religious Right (Wrong) ties to a very unpopular Republican President and GOP.

But this is not the end of the world for Haggard. If anything, this is just another illustration of a fellow human’s serious need for forgiveness, and Jesus’ sufficient grace to grant it. It’s amazing how the two have always seemed to line up over and over again throughout time. But then I suppose that’s what we who try to live by it know it as – amazing, that is.

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  1. Great Thoughts. I could not agree more. And I realize deeply that without God’s (amazing) Grace, nothing could spare me from the same or similar fate at any moment in my life.

    Thanks for the post

  2. Very well said. He needs prayer, not condemnation, from his fellow sinners who have been saved undeservedly by the precious grace of God who loves us. I hope the world will see God’s grace demonstrated in the Christians’ response to this sad event. God does work in mysterious ways, and what appears to be a disaster will surely result in incredible good for the kingdom of God and for Ted Haggard and his family. I agree with you. There will come a day when he sees this event as the best thing that ever happened to him, save his own salvation. God is so good to His children….even when we fall.

  3. Great post. Much needed post!

    Diane

  4. I enjoyed your post. I am also dismayed at all the world wide attention this has gotten. I live in Los Angeles where there has been a scandal in the Catholic Church for years. Priests who have molested children have been relocated and there has been no justice for past, present, or future victoms. I salute New Life Church for their quick response. Haggard is the victim in his life and he needs and will get prayer and forgiveness. I just wished that the media put more pressure on the Catholic Church to take care of thier problems with it’s many vicitims.

  5. I’m just now catching up on these matters. And I am of course grieved. Tom and I have been involved in recovery ministry for quite some time. A few things we have learned: addictions and complusions know no boundaries of education, position, title, role, economics. Another thing that became evident, especially to ME a very “good girl” all my life: as many have stated, we are all sinners; just sometimes some of us sin in very visible, evident ways (and everyone rejoices when this person “sees the light”, admits their sin and seeks redemption. Others of us (like me) are more like the “whited tombs”… our (my) sin is dark, hidden, ugly and putrid, and sometimes hard to identify. And when it is revelealed, people turn away in disgust and criticism. BUT the bottom line is that Jesus paid and paid for it all. Thirdly, we all need each other. We need communities where we can be honest with each other and not feel that we need to hide. Safe places for healing of our hurts, hangups and habits. I found our recovery community to be the most beautiful expression of Christ and His Church I had ever experienced. Oh, I was a leader alright – but I could be an honest leader in those rooms. Pastors of 14 or 14000 member churches would do well to find a safe place to tell the truth about themselves. And about God’s grace.
    I guess this exceeds the limit of “comment” and I should “get my own blog” (sorry!)

  6. Good thoughts…grace-full thoughts. Thanks for “penning” this. I’m just surfing through from Rocks in My Dryer.

    What’s pinging?

  7. He does need prayer – apart from Jesus we are all capable of absolutely monstrous things so none of us can condemn him. You are also right that it is grace that has brought this out in the light and removed it from then hands of the enemy.
    The key thing now is that he bring it into THE Light – with Jesus. I pray that he (his wife also) would be allowed the time to heal. These kinds of sin issues wound deeply and he must take the time – with Jesus – for complete healing.
    I too am very glad that it appears that the church leadership acted in a biblical way in dealing with this.
    God can redeem even this – God can restore this man into a right relationship with Him and a right fellowship in the body – and the AMAZING thing is that God can still be glorified and use this man in a new and deep way…if he will cooperate with the work that must be done in healing.
    GREAT POST!

  8. Thank you for this. Do I condone what he did? No. Is it between him and God? Yes. I am so troubled by all the people who go out of their way to stone another person publiclly in the name of Christ. I think sometimes we trust the atonement in theory but not in actual practice and I it’s sad.

  9. Well said. I love the reminder that God is not wringing His hands over this or any other matter. The things we do can have eternal consequences but they are no surprise to our Lord.

  10. I would be ever so much comfortable with Haggard’s “confession”–and forgiveness of same–if he had come forward on his own. How long might he have continued his behaviour had he not been busted?

  11. Thanks for your comments, everyone. And thanks, Josef, for sharing your discomfort as well. My thought in response is to look at King David’s life as an example, and how he didn’t confess until caught and confronted by Nathan in 2 Samuel 12 rather than on his own. Nevertheless, God heard and forgave (though there certainly were consequences that followed – see the rest of the OT for that).

    Who knows how long David would have continued to sin? Who knows how long Haggard would have? I’m not sure if that’s a know-able quantity, nor is it one God seems to deem differentiable. Whether caught or conscious, genuine confession/repentance (which we’ll see about over time in Haggard’s case) was/is what God desires and responds to. Other thoughts?

  12. Haggard is just another in a series of fallen men who should serve to remind us to put our faith and hope in God alone and not some man standing up front with with a microphone.

  13. “biblically disqualified for ministry”… always intrigues me. Murder didn’t disqualify Moses for leadership, David remained in his kingly role, and murder certainly didn’t disqualify Paul for ministry… interesting how sexual sin becomes the BIGGIE, particularly since if measured against Jesus standard (not even lusting) we have all fallen at one point in our lives.

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