Thursday, May 5, 2016
Many years ago the Nominating Committee at the church I attended presented a list of names they wanted us to consider as potential deacons. All of the men listed were good names, and I could see why others had recommended them to the position. However, when the leaders gathered together to discuss the names, one leader objected to a young man who was on the list. He said, "I can't support this person as a deacon. I happen to know that several years ago he and his wife struggled in their marriage and they were in counseling for a long time."
For the rest of the group, that seemed to settle the issue. Another leader agreed and said, "OK, let's strike him from the list". At that point I spoke up and started asking questions: "how long ago was this?" "Did the man achieve victory?" "Did he respond well to counseling?" "Was he repentant?" "What is the state of his marriage now?"
Come to find out, the man had indeed responded well to counseling and God had brought tremendous victory in their marriage. In fact, he and his wife were leading Bible studies in their home, sharing their faith with others, bringing friends to church, and highly involved in various ministries. But none of that was good enough for the individual who made the objection. He simply shrugged his shoulders and said "well, I still vote no. After all, we have to have leaders who are above reproach."
Sadly, this leader had forgotten the central message of the Gospel. There is a word in the Bible that we need to pay attention to. It is translated in various ways, but the Greek word is amomos (ἄμωμος), which literally means "no-blame". It is found in several verses, one of which is Ephesians 1:4, "He choose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight." This means that despite all of our wrongs, our failures, and our sins God declares us to be without blame if we put our trust and faith in Jesus. When Jesus went to the cross, he had taken the sins of this young man and restored him to righteousness (1 Peter 2:24). Sadly, this leader was determined to continue to caste blame.
We cannot make others see us the way God sees us. But we can control how we see ourselves. If you are reading this I can assume some things about you. I can assume you have sinned. I can assume you have hurt others as you sinned. Perhaps you've even destroyed a relationship. Maybe you have criminal record. Maybe your reputation has been trashed.
But none of that matters. If you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ, God has declared you to be holy and without-blame. Perhaps some would object that this belief simply excuses you from taking personal responsibility for the wrongs you have committed. Let me humbly suggest they have missed the entire point of the Gospel. The whole message of the Gospel is that Christ has accepted the responsibility for your wrongs. A punishment has been paid. There has been a reckoning. Someone has already answered for your crimes, sins, and faults.
Live as someone who is blameless, even when others continue to caste stones.