There's a situation I've been chewing on for the last week or so that I really think needs to be talked about. For all the amazing things the western church can be credited with, we have some glaring issues that need to be worked out.
Before I get into it, let me begin by challenging you with a simple question: "What is justice?"
So much can be learned about someone based on their opinions on this subject. Obviously this isn't a 'saved or not saved' type question, but it does speak quite a bit on how we interact with our salvation.
As best, and concisely as I can, I want to properly frame where I am coming from. First, I am approaching this as a SPIRIT FILLED Believer.
This is a distinction that is necessary, while unfortunately rarely qualified. This means, that based on Romans 10:9
, Romans 8:9
; and Romans 12:1-2
, I am defining this as: People who genuinely believe that our salvation comes at the declaration that Christ is Lord.
Not in title only, but a true declaration of a whole submission of our lives to the heart of the Father. Embrace an active and continuing process of trading out old patterns and beliefs until our values reflect Heaven's; not out of labor, but through communion with Holy Spirit and mastering the art of forgiveness.
Most believers say they understand these values, and many are definitely on this journey. I, however, don't believe we take this process serious enough.
Take, for example, the recent controversy with a well known public religious leader. The exact name, location, denomination, and accusations are irrelevant as it could be a stand-in for any number of hyper publicized stories since the advent of social media. As with most controversies of its nature the church is once again thrust into an unfavorable spotlight where every stain is exposed. The world witnesses the "church" catch the scent of blood in the water. They look on with bated blood-lust
themselves, knowing that the minute a Godly man of public stature falls, there will be a guaranteed feeding frenzy as we cannibalize our own and call it love.
Whether it's the religious/theological opponents, self-validating their own ignorance and judgments; or maybe just the gossipers and slanderers who spread stories like frat kids spread STIs. The point is, the church has an unchecked problem that stems from not taking the believer's transition into becoming a new creation serious enough.
Once more I return to my original question; "What is justice?"
In all of these cases of people abused by those in authority and the misplaced trust of followers, what is their justice?
Before I say the next part, I want to be extremely clear, IF YOU ARE IN AN ABUSIVE SITUATION, REMOVE YOURSELF FROM IT AND GET HELP!
Unfortunately, too often the "powers" in the church have encouraged the abuse, have encouraged the silence of those being victimized to avoid controversy, sometimes it is not so easy to just remove oneself from the abuse. Not to mention the mental abuse that often takes place in the church setting, convincing the ones being victimized that they are over reacting or not seeing the picture clearly. In these instances seeking outside help and counseling may be necessary, or listening to friends and family who may have concerns about what they see should be taken into account. Each situation is unique and should be examined with clear eyes. There are ZERO reasons the Bible gives to justify enduring abuse in any fashion.
I fear, however, that our culture has put such great emphasis on being a victim, that we have almost perverted the definition. We take the smallest perceived slights and turn them into church splitting dilemmas. Even in legitimate cases of victimization, we embolden their status of victim and keep feeding them the fruit of despair rather than the Bread of Life.
There is a very important distinction between being a victim verses being victimized. The first is an identity, where the second is only reflective of a situation or circumstance.
The scriptures are very clear that we should expect to be victimized for our faith, but we are never given permission to be victims. In fact we are told to rejoice. Obviously I know that persecution and suffering at the hands of an abusive leader are very different, but are we aware how fortunate and rare it is that we have to make that distinction?
So again I ask, "What is justice?"
Well, if we believe the Word, justice looks like the story of two brothers. Justice looks like restored relationship between a Father and His children. It looks like true repentance and forgiveness.
Why then is this not what we seek for leaders who fall? We jeer them as they stumble, yet who among us honestly yearns to see them restored? We have lost sight of biblical love, and we have lost sight of biblical honor.
We have become a society who requires public opinion over Calling.
So if this is what our heart should be for those who fall short of our standard, what then should be our response to those who are directly affected by the offenders?
Obviously compassion, empathy, and understanding are vital, even clinical intervention may be necessary depending on the nature and severity of the offense. There is no shame in seeking professional help if that is what is needed. We must remember that believers who are wronged are subscribers to a higher standard.
When we seek justice for the wronged (believers), are we seeking the worlds definition? What was Paul's response to believers who were suing each other over petty squabbles in public courts? Even the greater extreme of Saul's maniacal obsession to kill David, and David's faithful honor to Saul's calling shows how to maintain honor and integrity while suffering the throws of great difficulty.
Whatever the path, true justice for victims, biblically, should be the restoration of the body, soul, and spirit as it relates to the Father.
It is true that many offenses done at the hands of church leaders also have a public justice element that dictates our response to whatever has been done. In these cases, I agree that secular courts should play a role. I am only stating that I feel like too many believers hold the worldly court above Heaven's court, and all the world is watching.
We are called to be a people of love, grace, honor, compassion, and unity. It is not an easy calling, but it is a part of the reconciliation we are called to co-labor in.
Approaching 10 years of marriage with 4 kids to boot,
Kyle and Ashley have devoted themselves to family
and enjoying the roller coaster of life that follows.
Being led through numerous cities and church families
by the chaotic winds of change,
they have come to the conclusion that God has called His Bride to be more.
With that at the forefront of their minds,
they live to seek God and uncover His mysteries. #SeekLikeKings
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