Tuesday, June 1, 2010

How could you?

“How could you turn your back on your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who gave you such a wonderful family?” Boy, mothers sure know how to pour on the guilt.

Whether it’s the family we were born into, or the family we inherited when we gave our heart to the Lord—sometimes we butt heads with the people we love and care about. The mere fact that I disagree with my loved ones now and then does not, by any stretch of the imagination, mean that I’ve turned my back on my Lord.

I can understand, however, the temptation to judge a person’s heart. We tend to hold to certain traditions and expectations and if others don’t look the part, we judge them. It’s a part of the human condition.

The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. 1 Samuel 16:7b (NIV)

I’m reminded of a conversation I had with a co-worker a year or so ago. One of the church’s former pastors was forced to resign after it came to light that he was having an affair. There was so much sadness and brokenness.

Because of the affair, two homes were destroyed, and a church family was shattered. When pastors fall (and they sometimes do), parishioners choose sides, faith is shaken, and heartbreak spreads like a virus through the body.

The former pastor’s name came up when my co-worker was recounting to me some of the biggest challenges the church has faced in her 30 years of membership. “That pastor is still unrepentant.” She seemed sure of the condition of the man’s heart.

“How do you know that?” I asked. She answered with authority. “It’s obvious.”

I didn’t press her for an explanation, as I really didn’t want to get caught in a gossip-fest with my cubicle mate. But I wondered what criteria she might be using to judge the man.

A few days later I was visiting with my sister-in-law when she told me that the disgraced former pastor had been the guest speaker at her church. She beamed as she recounted his story of sin, restoration, healing, and forgiveness.

I went on-line so I could download the podcast of his message. It was encouraging, powerful, and so inspirational. There is life after death and destruction, and the pastor was living in victory over sin. Amazing.

Whatever criteria my friend was using to judge the former sinner’s heart, her conclusion was wrong. In the same way, it is wrong to assume a person has turned away from God just because they disagree with a fellow believer now and again.

Are you sitting on the pew of finger pointing and name-calling? Well, get off the pew! God sees what the human eye cannot see. Sometimes we just have to trust the fact that He’s at work. Now get off the pew!

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