The news the past several weeks has been anything but encouraging – a presidential candidate accused of sexual misconduct; a beloved college coach with an impeccable reputation whose legacy has now been tainted by scandal. Volumes have been written by both the secular and Christian media examining these issues from the perspective of the victims, the perpetrators and society at large.
But there is a fundamental question that still needs to be addressed and that is: How should we as Christians respond to these events? How do we view the people involved? Many have rushed to judgment before all of the evidence is known. On the other side of the issue are those who have rushed to defend the involved without considering the pain of the victims. For the Christian there are three words that should define our position: Compassion, Grace and Forgiveness.
Compassion can be difficult for us, especially compassion for the offender. It is certainly not a normal response. But it is the right response for those who desire to follow Christ. Compassion because Christ exemplified compassion for us (Matthew 9:36, 14:14, 15:32, 20:34). Compassion for those wounded by another’s actions (Luke 10:33). Compassion even for the sinner (Luke 15:20).
I’ve often written about grace. That’s because it has such an important impact on life. Grace is receiving what we do not deserve – it is a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9). At the same time grace does not negate justice. God is a God of grace – He is also a God of justice. The wonder of the Christian message is that justice and grace met at the cross and were perfectly reconciled in Christ (Romans 3:23-26). As Christians we have received grace even though we deserve justice. Whether we like to admit it or not, our sin against a holy God is as disgusting and dirty as the sin committed against young boys by someone they trusted (Isaiah 64:6). And yet we have received grace. How can we who have received grace refuse it to even the vilest sinner? While we abhor the sin that has taken place and while we should do everything possible to help the victims, we cannot forget that all important word – grace.
Compassion and grace lead to forgiveness. Without forgiveness for others, even those guilty of heinous sins, we stand in jeopardy (Matthew 6:14-15). Forgiveness is only logical in light of the fact that we have been forgiven of so much (Colossians 2:13-14). Forgiveness may not be easy, but it is right (Matthew 6:9-13).
Our society is wrestling with life-changing issues. People are angry and that is understandable. The weakest in our society have been injured by people in positions of power. But anger that is not resolved will turn cancerous and destroy the soul (Hebrews 12:15). The only hope is that anger will turn into compassion; compassion will result in grace; and grace will lead to forgiveness. That’s the example of Christ. That is the difference in the Christian message and life. That is the essence of the gospel.
Stay in the Word