There are Sundays when I go to church, go through the motions, follow along with the service, and all the while my mind is entirely disengaged from what I am doing. I suppose I would (should?) desire it to be otherwise. I am all too aware of the encumbrances and impediments that come with being human, that weigh the body down and distract the mind and heart from focusing on Christ. All too often I am struggling to shut down the chatter in my head so that I can truly worship, come away full to overflowing with God’s grace and a renewed desire to follow hard after him. It should be an easy thing when it is desired, but life gets in the way…often…
…which is what makes Sunday’s extraordinary experience such a huge blessing for everyone who was there & heard. For me. And especially, for a struggling and brokenhearted young man and his dear family.
It is an utterly heartbreaking thing to see someone with his whole future before him, so full of life, so full of love for his Savior, so full of a desire to follow Christ, struggle powerfully with drugs and alcohol. It is agonizing to see him fail, repeatedly, and especially so when he has maintained sobriety for a period of time. It is devastating to watch it affect not only himself, but those whom he loves (and who love him).
I have been a Christian my whole life. I have seen these problems – these sins – dealt with quietly, privately, with minimal involvement of the church body. Many times they are swept under the rug completely, and there is a covert shunning of these weaker members of the body of Christ. And yet, this is precisely what Jesus would not do. How have we, the body of Christ, become so disillusioned by our own false grandeur, that we would slough off those who need us the most, because it might taint the remaining saints?
So yesterday, as I watched this young man stand before our congregation and make a public confession, my heart broke for him. Not because I was embarrassed for him, but because I hurt along with him. We all did. We watched him tremble with grief. And we watched the elders and our pastor, one by one, walk up and stand beside him, lay hands on his shoulders, conveying their love, strength & support as he did what he had to do…come clean before God, publicly, transparently, and with true repentance.
What a tremendous and beautiful demonstration of God’s grace and mercy this was. How could every person there not be blessed beyond measure as we witnessed what it truly means to love the sinner even as we hate the sin. This young man layed his heart and soul before God, his church and his family…seeking forgiveness, restoration and reconciliation with his Heavenly Father.
And he got it. Immediately.
He will still struggle, but his desire to publicly confess, and make himself publicly accountable to many, will make him stronger. He has his entire church family praying on his behalf that he will triumph mightily over his addictions, and believing in his ability (with God’s abundant grace) to do so.
God was enormously glorified yesterday. Awesomely glorified. Magnificently glorified.
What a blessing.
What a blessing indeed.