Monday, December 16, 2013

Christian Growth and Healing

Another Minister has failed. He got involved in an affair, resigned his church pastorate and got a divorce. He killed himself a few days ago.

All that is tragic enough but the comments of so many who write to papers, blogs and other media are extremely cruel, merciless and callous. It is to be expected of those who hate God and or who hate ministers who represent God and His church, but what can we say about those who claim to be very strong, Bible believing, born again, Spirit-filled Christians?

We could call them bad names and out them as hyper hypocrites and it is tempting. However, I prefer, despite my human inclination, to look at some of the reasons why so many Christians judge failing Believers so harshly.We know the Bible says that "Mercy triumphs over mercy" so why are so many vocal Christians acting with little mercy and lots of justice?

One reason is laid out by an old friend Richard Lovelace. Dr. Lovelace was a Professor of Spiritual history at Gordon Conwell Seminary and very deeply involved in church renewal when I was. He said that Evangelicals have a "Sanctification Gap" or a lack of understanding of Progressive Sanctification. He thinks it comes from our tradition or revivals and the quick establishment of frontier churches with great focus on "Salvation by walking the sawdust trail to the altar" but little emphasis on Christian growth.

This was certainly my experience growing up in that kind of tradition. Every meeting had an evangelistic focus. Even the Wednesday night "Prayer Meetings" had no emphasis on teaching the people how to pray and grow but on sermons with an altar call. This leads to an unconscious idea that maturity is instant and perfection is total at the altar. Sin is only skin deep and can be covered with some effort.

Any sin or failures were evidence of either 1. The sinner was not really saved, or, 2. He/She simply needed to repent because overcoming the habits, hurts and hatreds of our life before rebirth was pretty simple. However, the Bible teaches that sins arising from habits, hurts and hates are BONE DEEP and require the deep work of the Holy Spirit to root them out over years and decades.

The heart is deceitful and wicked and no one can understand it. Jeremiah 17:9

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