Part 1: The Grace of God is not reserved for the “well-behaved.”
"Grace is constant flow carving its way through the strata of shame, legalism, and religiosity. Although it often goes unnoticed, it carves it's way through the scars and caverns of our soul."
When you find yourself paralyzed or plagued by the shame of your past, or the pain you have caused, the Gospel is there to remind you that there is a deeper work that has been done. When the enemy reminds and accuses us by saying “Look at what you have done” Jesus shouts in return a resounding “Look at what I have done!” You may never get over the guilt and shame, the wounds and hurts you have either caused or experienced but Jesus provided everything you need to move on in your story and send the enemy packing! “It is Finished” means It is finished. Your sins are remembered no more!
Wether you are well known or nobody knows anything about you. Many people, when they have been “found out,” begin to live isolated and ashamed inside the consequences of their self-inflicted wounds.
Sin corrupts things. It breaks things. It separates things. It toxifies things. It twists things out of shape and unravels the fabric of our lives and the lives of others. In this sense, every individual act of sin has communal repercussions. This is why when one person sins, every person suffers—including the one that sinned. Of course, everyone experiences a different dimension of suffering. The ones sinned against experience the suffering of betrayal and injustice, hurt and confusion—just to name a few. The one who sinned experiences the suffering of guilt and shame and regret and, oftentimes, ostracized. Both experience loss at various levels.
The uncomfortable kicker: the Gospel is for both parties. The good news of God’s unconditional love and outrageous mercy has always and forever been for sufferers, regardless of whether the suffering is self-induced or caused by someone else. If the good news of God’s forgiving and restorative grace isn’t for everyone, then it isn’t for anyone. In fact, it bears noting that the scandal of Christianity is not that its adherents sometimes commit atrocious acts, but that the founder of Christianity willingly died for them. Yes, Christ’s forgiveness includes the worst offenders you can think of. And, consequently, so should ours.
2 Corinthians 8:9: You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.
If God is who we say he is, then real sin is also met with real forgiveness. In fact, if what we know about the Gospel has any bearing on actual life, then redemption—not retribution—ought to be our deepest longing. It is the only thing that has a shot of making any difference, or bringing about genuine healing for everybody. The cross of Jesus shows us that God is serious about sin and we should therefore take sin seriously. But (and this is the part that I personally have experienced and often seems missing when scandal and sin in church leadership happens) the cross also shows us that God is serious about redemption, restoration, and forgiving sins and we should take that seriously too.
The grace of God is not reserved for the “well-behaved.” Yet that is the message we send every time the word “fall" is used in reference to someone who is by nature already fallen. These people are sinners, just like everybody they ever led. That doesn't justify destructive behavior, diminish the sting of consequences, or minimize the harming effects of destructive choices. But if we're only okay with preaching grace in theory, but not when someone—even an esteemed leader—is actually in need of it, then perhaps we should all take a sabbatical. As someone once said, “People love it when preachers say they are broken just like the rest of us, until that preacher does something that the rest of us broken people do.” Food for thought!