Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Ted Haggard: More Thoughts

While I wrote this entry about Ted Haggard a few days ago, I had a hard time with one part. I said,

I hate when things like this happen. It is a tragedy for all of us. Nobody is perfect, and when one suffers, we all do. When a Christian is shown to have clay feet—especially a prominent one—the whole body of Christ suffers a tarnished reputation.

But at first, I wrote this: Nobody is perfect, and when one suffers, we all do. We all have darkness in our hearts. We all have secrets in our lives that we hope won’t come to the light. That’s because we are humans and therefore fallen creatures. We all would be entirely without hope if it were not for the mercy and gracious forgiveness of God through Jesus Christ.

I took out the last three sentences before I posted the entry—I don’t know why; I shouldn’t have.

When I said “the whole body of Christ suffers a tarnished reputation” when something like this happens, I meant that some people who are nonbelievers like to point out the hypocrisy. They say, see, here’s what you people are really like. And they use that as one more excuse for not believing in God. They form their clouded perceptions of God from their perceptions of his people, and when his people are exposed as sinners, they have what they think is ammunition against God. I know, because I know some people who do this.

The truth is, yes, we are really like that. Everybody is.

A friend sent me a link to this blog article by Tim Challies. In describing his changing emotions in the Ted Haggard situation, Challies says, “I went from wanting to know details, to feeling pity to feeling terror to pleading with God to continue to extend His grace to me that I would not fall.”

He quotes Jonathan Edwards’ famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” And he applies Edwards’ thoughts to this situation. He says, “What is true of eternity, is equally true of the temporal. Just as nothing but God's hand keeps both Christian and non-Christian from death at any given moment, the same hand is all that restrains any of us from falling into sin as dreadful as Haggard's, or sin that is far worse.”

We should examine our own hearts before we get too tangled up in criticizing Haggard.

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