I read an article today (Going To Hell with Ted Haggard) and while the whole thing was excellent, ten little words on page three really jumped out at me. “When will the church allow God to use him again?”
It’s funny (not in the haha way) how we, as Christians, readily accept that God created the Heavens and the earth. We accept that He is the Alpha and Omega – seeing everything from start to finish. We chuckle at the irony of God using an ass to speak to Balaam in Numbers 22. Yet we question His judgment when it comes to who He can use!
Yes, Ted Haggard sinned AFTER being saved. And?
I’m pretty sure that the Scriptures tell us that if confess of our sins and repent, God will remove them from us as far as east is to west. (Remember Psalm 103?) Did Ted Haggard confess and repent? In a big and public way! Not only did he call himself a “deceiver and liar” from the pulpit of his own church when he confessed to his congregation about his sin, the Associated Press ran a story which was picked up by news agencies all over the world.
So why isn’t the entire body of the church celebrating his repentance? Why are we still, six years later, unwilling to forgive his trangressions?
I keep getting a picture in my mind of a chat with God about forgiveness. It goes something like this …
Person: “Uhm, Lord, can I ask you something?”
God: “Yes my child. You can ask me anything.”
Person: “Well, you remember how Ted Haggard was accused of sexual immorality back in 2006 and he admitted to it? Right?”
God: “Yes my child. Do you remember the line in my book that starts with “But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”? If you don’t, it’s right there in Luke 12:7. That wasn’t a case of ‘creative liberty.’ It means that I really do know every single detail about every one of my children.”
Person: “I get that. I really do. But the thing is, well … there’s just no delicate way to put this. Ted Haggard SINNED and he wasn’t just saved. He was a PASTOR! How could you possibly believe that he can serve you now? (snort) You know what they say – a tiger can’t change his stripes! There is no way he can lead anyone to you now.”
God: (shakes His head) “My child. Since you were saved, have you not sinned?”
Person: “Uhm …”
God: “And as far as Ted being a pastor, what about my servant Paul? You’ve read about him right? You do realize that he was a pretty big deal in the Gospel being spread don’t you? I would say that by most anyone’s standards, he was a pastor. Have you forgotten 1 Timothy 1:15? Let me refresh you as to what he said. ‘This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.’”
Person: “Yes, but …”
God: “And if your own personal experiences aren’t enough for you and the Apostle Paul isn’t a ‘big enough name’ for you, how about my Son? Are you not aware that Jesus died for ALL sinners? Nowhere in my book does it say, that He died for everyone except those who give their lives to Him and then make a mistake and sin.”
Person: “Yes Lord. I get all of that. I think forgiveness is a great thing. Believe me, I do. Even though I don’t know him, I’m glad you forgave Ted Haggard. But there is a difference between forgiving someone and using them. That’s what I’m trying to say here. He shouldn’t even try to be in ministry now since he’s, you know, (whispers) crossed over to the dark side.”
God: “Ah – so you’re saying that anyone who has sinned after being saved should be forgiven but kept in a corner since they can’t be trusted again?”
Person: “Not in so many words, but yes. That’s the long and the short of it.”
God: “So you don’t believe that my forgiveness is enough to restore them to the light? You don’t think that the blood of my Son is strong enough to keep them clean if they become soiled by sin?”
Person: “Of course not! I’m just saying that it will be impossible for us to trust him again since he fell from grace.”
God: “Grace is an interesting choice of words for you to use. Did you not understand 2 Corinthians 12:9? ‘But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.’ It sounds to me like you need to really study on what grace truly means. A man sins, repents and is redeemed. When he is redeemed, my grace is restored unto him. He moves forward. YOU are not in any position to tell ME that I am not allowed, or somehow wrong, if I don’t hold him back and hide him in a closet. I will remind you of my child, Job, and what I pointed out to him in chapter 38-41 of his story and I will ask you the same question that I asked him. ‘Will the faultfinder contend with the Almighty? Let him who reproves God answer it.’ Are you reproving me child? Finding fault with my decisions?”
Person: “No Lord! I would never try to tell YOU how to do anything! Please forgive me! I am so very sorry. I will never, ever do that again.”
God: “You are forgiven my child and my grace lies upon you. Remember this moment the next time you are tempted to judge someone else that has been forgiven.”
While we are the adopted children of God through Christ, we still can’t say if one minute from now we’ll be breathing. So how in the world can we believe that we can pick and choose who we ALLOW God to use? Think about it!