Of Ministers Caught in Sin

A question posed at another blog about a minister’s indiscretion –“But what about ministering to him and his family in a time of need?”

A person of high moral standing was supposedly caught in an act of less than moral standing. In that is seen him and the victim. Of this set of two, the question needs to be asked, “who needs ministering to — him or the victim? The victim.

Next, this person of whom the infractions are attributed to would have had to done this while those to which he publicly served had no idea of what was going on behind closed doors. There is a real sense that any service provided has questionable value and validity. The next question to be asked is, “who needs ministering to — him or those with doubts about his service rendered in the past? Those with doubts.

Thirdly, this person’s family looked to him for leadership in the home and instruction for life. It seems the actions negated any instruction he may have given and nullified the fidelity of his relationships in his home. Herein lies another question, “who needs ministering to — him or his family? His family.

So what of him? All through his life he put himself in a position that said he knew the answers to the questions posed to him. That comes from what he did, not by who he was. He, and ALL those who hold similiar postions, are often seen as not needing help themselves. From the time of being in seminary to now, public perception is often that of “since he is supposed to be helping us he probably doesn’t need helping.” He should have been ministered to all along in his career. The question then is not of “why is he not being ministered to now?” but of “why did he not got ministered to all along?” Where he failed personally, the institution (that is the system we have in place, not the local version alone) failed him as well. And for that the system as a whole and the local version in particular need to repent.

However, if he is who all thought him to be, there is the onus of personal accountability that he should have been aware of if nothing else then by the very grace you want everybody else to show him but which he turned his back on.

A time of ministering for the man about will come. But in order for that to happen, the victim, the family, and those he served, need to be ministered to first. 1 Corinthians 5, from the Holy Spirit inspired pen of Paul must be allowed to play out. In time then, words from Paul’s second letter to Corinth will be able to be applied as well…

I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death. For behold what earnestness this very thing, this godly sorrow, has produced in you: what vindication of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what longing, what zeal, what avenging of wrong! In everything you demonstrated yourselves to be innocent in the matter…it was not for the sake of the offender nor for the sake of the one offended, but that your earnestness on our behalf might be made known to you in the sight of God. For this reason we have been comforted. 2 Corinthians 7:9-13a

Paul wrote again to Corinth commending them to restore the offending member (2 Corinthians 2:5-10ff). Assuming that Corinth heeded Paul in the first letter, then what recourse to reconciliation of the man did the church have except that individually he was sought out and witnessed to as an unbeliever. Paul then recommends upon hearing of the man’s repentance that he be restored to fellowship with the church. But it is not the duty of the church to minister but the individuals in his life that know him and have contact with him to provide that.

It seems that the man Paul referred to needed time to come to grips with his reality. And this may indeed be the case with this man. He is still someone’s friend. He needs to be reached out to and given the gospel again. Then let the Holy Spirit work in him.

And if indeed he is to be counted as a brother in Christ, then be reminded that when Jesus was asked how often to forgive He said, “seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21ff) inferring as often as necessary. A spiritual wrestling match most likely ensue — how can I possibly forgive him for that? vs. how can I not forgive him for that? Make no mistake that forgiveness is necessary but accountability is the other side of the coin. Hence, Paul’s words to Corinth.

On the individual level, forgive him, then make no compromises with him about his accountability, give him the gospel, and pray the Holy Spirit will work repentance in his heart.