He: I was stupid.
She: we’ve all been there.
The discussion was this simple, this straightforward, this honest. He was looking for someplace to get some community service hours for a pending legal issue. She represented one of those potential “someplaces;” in this case, a church.
I have been serving in churches for nearly a quarter century now. I have lost several colleagues to sexual impropriety. Some of these colleagues have also been good friends.
(About none of them do I know the whole story. In general, it is none of my business. In reality, a “community” that covers up and sanitizes its challenges is no community at all.)
I do not like losing good friends, ministry colleagues! I do not feel at all good about people going from being in ministry one day to persona non grata the next. As often as not, such persons are perceived to be doing effective ministry, right up to the fall.
Here’s where I take us back to the little dialogue that opened this post.
We have all been there.
Ok; maybe you have not been across the line that divides legal from illegal, moral from immoral. At least not to the extent that you are required to do community service, or prison time, or even, overnight becoming unwelcome in a place you once lead.
But you have been close enough to see that line, haven’t you?
I know I have. Sometimes that I have gotten close to that line I was “scared straight.’ The times that most concern me, though, are the times that I felt so good, cocky, and full of myself that I just knew I could toe the line, perhaps even cross it, and it would make no difference.
I have been there, and you have too. If you tell me, or yourself that you haven’t, that you couldn’t, you might just be closer to that line right now than you ought to be.
To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray,one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
-Luke 18:9-14 (Common English Bible)