Finding a True Church
By Devon Dick
July 18, 2006
Many Persons have been surprised that there could be allegations against a deacon of a church concerning sexual assault on a minor for commercial purposes and subsequent attempts to conceal it from the law courts.
There was an underlying feeling that certain things should not happen in the church. However, the church has always been made up of persons who are sinners. Christians are not under the dominion of sin but commit sins and when we sin we have an advocate in Jesus. The non-believer, however, is under the direction of sin and that person does not have the privilege of Jesus as the advocate to plead his or her case but instead wallows in guilt or becomes insensitive to sin and presumptuous in sinning.
The Bible has examples of sinning sexually. There is the story in Corinthians 5 of a male having sexual relations with his father's wife and the church was proud of it. Things were so bad that Paul said sexual immorality was worse in the church than among the Gentiles. In the Old Testament Abraham had a child with his wife's domestic helper. David committed adultery with Uriah's wife and then conspired to have Uriah killed in order to conceal his crime.
God's people are not all pure. They have been called from darkness into light. And when we slip back into the darkness there is the Bible as a lamp to guide us back into the marvellous light. Unfortunately, Christians give the impression that we see no evil, do no evil and hear no evil. And based on the testimonies from preachers and church leaders, which are usually about victories and no failures, then one is shocked beyond belief when there are indiscretions and depravity. The Church needs to be seen again as a place for the lost and those struggling with temptations and weaknesses.
CHRISTIANS MUST REPENT
A true church must also be a repenting church. Too often the weekly prayers of confession are ritualistic and non-specific. Let us follow the example of the Archbishop of Kingston, Lawrence Burke, who said that the Catholic Church in the USA handled the cases of sexual abuses badly by being more interested in protecting 'the church' rather than the victims. This admission of error is welcomed and all need to remember that confession is good for the soul.
A true church must also be a forgiving church. To forgive is to bear no bitterness, anger and hatred towards the offender. It is to wish the very best for the perpetrator of the act. It would have the desire for the offender to see the wickedness of the act, repent and go through a process of rehabilitation.
Sexual abuse of a minor for commercial purposes is abhorrent. And the community must express abhorrence at the crime while extending love to the offender. And once the persons have done penance and served time then they should be welcomed back with open arms and necessary safeguards and not punished twice for the same offence. And God can still use those persons in a powerful way.
A true church is one that is made of persons who are sinners saved by grace and who are works in progress. A true church is a repenting and forgiving church. A true church is one which expresses abhorrence at depravity while loving the perpetrator and having a willingness to accept such person and allow God to use the Christian after the appropriate repentance and punishment.
Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church and author of "Rebellion to Riot: the Church in Nation Building"
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