June 18, 2015

Dear Liberty,

     Because Christians preach that we should not sin, many unbelievers conclude that Christians then presume they don't sin.  This is a complete misunderstanding of the Christian faith.  Christians know that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” which is why we need a Savior.  What unfortunately happens is often Christians appear pious in their witness to the world, which results in many wrongfully assuming that Christians consider themselves better than others.

     This was showcased again when it was recently revealed that Josh Duggar had sexually abused several of his sisters twelve years ago.  The Duggar family, a Christian, conservative family, became famous through the reality TV show, “19 Kids and Counting.”  Always ready to pounce, social media and news outlets immediately accused hypocrisy among the Duggar family as soon as the news broke.  Reporters were appalled by the past actions of a 14-year-old Josh Duggar while in the next news story vocally supporting the idea that we have gender-neutral restrooms in schools.  Instead of questioning if Josh received the help he needed for his problem, public opinion promptly condemned him without even a cursory review of the facts.

     As soon as the Duggar parents found out what Josh did, they put both him and his sisters into counseling.  After Josh’s treatment, his parents took him down to the police department to confess.  Josh is not immune to sin just because he’s a Christian and he knows it.  When he did sin, he and his family took responsibility.  He owned up to his sin, repented, and asked for God’s forgiveness.  This gives him spiritual blessings from God, but it does not eliminate the need to pay the price for doing something wrong. A contrite heart acknowledges that a wrong requires a proper punishment; it does not flee that punishment. The Duggar family claims that the circumstances of 2002 actually brought them closer to God.

     Being a Christian is not a “Get Out Of Jail Free” card on this side of Heaven.  It’s not that you don’t sin, it’s that you repent.  (see The Skinny Of Fat Tuesday, The Serpent And The Tree, and Fruit Of The Forbidden Tree)  It’s not that you aren’t held accountable, it’s that you take responsibility.  It’s not that you don’t have troubles, it’s how you let your faith guide you through them.  It is how we respond and react to events, both in and out of our control, that sets a Christian apart.

     When the news broke, Josh resigned his position at the Family Research Center.  TLC pulled all the current and future episodes of “19 Kids and Counting” until further notice.  Many could rightfully argue Josh brought this upon himself.  It’s also a justified consequence of his sin.  But what about those trials we experience that happen as no fault of our own?

     Mrs. G, the pastor's wife, was in a debilitating car accident when she was a teenager.  She sustained injuries that left her unable to use her legs.  Physically confined to a wheelchair, her spirit is more active and more mobile that anyone else I know.  Mrs. G never allows her physical limitations to restrict her love and concern for others.

     Many who experience similar injuries or circumstances can fall prey to anger and hate.  Anger at the person who caused them the injury, anger at the world and even anger at God.  Though it took Mrs. G. several years to learn to emotionally cope with her new way of life, over time the Holy Spirit turned any anger, regret, and sadness into love and inspiration.  She teaches at the church’s school and daily demonstrates to her students that nothing should limit you.  Through her attitude and actions, she also shows the children as well as the world, that everything can be turned into glory to God.  The years that she journeyed through learning to accept her physical condition gave her a unique perspective and appreciation that she shares with others.  With God’s help, she took a tragedy and turned it into a gift, which she uses to serve and witness to His grace.

     A few months ago doctors told her that she will need to have another surgery.  Not only did she have to stop teaching the remainder of this year, she has to take a leave of absence for the following school year.  It would be perfectly understandable if Mrs. G was disappointed and possibly depressed by this.  Instead, Mrs. G has used her time off to do more studying, both of the Bible and as a teacher.  She has written several of her own Bible Studies to help further the learning of others.  Still wanting to help the kids, she has offered her assistance to the school to do other administrative duties they need.  Focusing on serving others, rather than focusing on ourself, is how we are to live as Christians.

     We are told in church all the time that we should live our lives as a witness to Christ.  Our attitudes should reflect God’s love in a way that others will desire to learn about Jesus because of the peace He has given us.  Pastor G. asked a very interesting question in church on Sunday,  “Will people recognize the family resemblance between you and your brother Jesus?"  That is a question we should ask ourselves everyday as we venture into this world as a child of God.  Mrs. G. does an amazing job reflecting her branch on the Heavenly family tree.  I would not be surprised if she is frequently asked how she can stay so positive despite her injury and ongoing surgeries. Her joy in the face of suffering gives a perfect opportunity to fulfill Peter’s call to, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” Her joy comes from being a forgiven child of God.

     The world does not want to be told we are sinners.  It is a very difficult truth to admit about ourselves.  That is why people are so anxious to attack Christians when they are caught in a sin.  It is an attempt to shame Christians into silence.  If people aren’t constantly reminded that they sin, then they think they can happily live their life without any guilt.

     Christ told us, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.” (John 15:18)  But He encouraged us with, “You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.” (Matt 10:22)

     We must strive to live our lives as evidence of God’s love no matter what our trials, tribulations, successes and blessings in life.  We must show God’s love by acknowledging our own flaws and need for a savior.  There will always be those who  reject our message no matter how peacefully and lovingly we say it, but that should not stop you from constantly trying.  Find comfort in the fact that it is the Holy Spirit’s job to change hearts, not yours.  You are merely a mirror that reflects the true grace of God. You do this by loving others, serving their needs, and by confessing your forgiveness through the Good News that Jesus Christ is risen. He is risen indeed.

     That’s my 2 cents.