Love To Hate

Almost four years ago I wrote THIS post about my friend, Brad Johnson. The post included an open letter he had written to his church apologizing for the pain his affair had caused his church.

Yesterday, while sitting in my office one of my colleagues asked me a question about “search terms.” They were wondering how people most often find my blog. It’s been a long time since I’ve looked at such stats, but I was absolutely shocked to see that almost four years later “Brad Johnson Affair” is still one of the biggest search terms used on Google to find my blog.

I think that’s so sad.

Why is it that we, as Christians, are so fascinated and pre-occupied with other Christians’ public failure?

Why do we LOVE to hate people who have stumbled?

Is it about revenge?

Does it make me feel better about myself?

Does focusing on immorality around me allow me to ignore the immorality in me?

The thing I tend to forget is Scripture is full of people like David and Moses who committed murder and embodied so many other character defects. And yet, God used them. Not only did he use them, they would become the heroes of our faith. The truth is many of the individuals God used throughout Scripture would have NO chance of ever being hired in any of our churches today.

Why don’t we have more leaders in our faith and in churches who have had moral and ethical failures?

Because we love to shoot our own. We love to hate people that have screwed up. We love the sensational scandal.

But let me say this. Giving up on people like Brad Johnson and the hundreds of Christian leaders who fall every year is not a statement on them. It’s a statement on our belief in God’s redeeming work.

Do you believe God can redeem Brad’s life and ministry? Let me ask a more probing question. Do you really WANT God to redeem Brad’s life?

Maybe the reason we don’t have more Brad’s and David’s and Moses’s leading in our churches today is because as a Christian community we’ve slammed the door on God’s redeeming work in the lives of people who have screwed up.

We’ve stopped looking into the eyes of the fallen and speaking redeeming, loving words. We’ve stopped telling them here is who you can become.

Old habits can change.

Old patterns can be rewired.

You can become the person God had in mind when he thought you into existence.

Who have you given up on? Who needs you to believe in them again?

*On a side note. I’m reading Brad’s new book The Four Laws of Forgiveness: How to Forgive Yourself and Others
and it’s blowing me away.

19 Responses to “Love To Hate”

  1. Gary says:

    Love the sinner, hate the sin.

  2. sheila says:

    My husband. Lord help me, UGH, forgive me. In God’s love, sheila

  3. Stephanie Hughes says:

    This is why I love your preaching Pete! And, why I love Crosspoint. Amazing post, and so true. More churches, and individuals, would thrive if they could just grasp this truth.

  4. You are so right on, Pete, I want people to still be able to minister after having sinned… how could we not?
    If forgiveness is what we all believe and are in such need of, each one of us, how could we not extend it to our leaders who are, let’s face it, under so much more pressure by Satan, he wants to bring them down to hurt the cause… if someone repents, turns away from his sin, he will be a much better leader because he really understands what he is talking about…
    I have been left by a husband who had an affair, God since then has called me to open and direct a Pregnancy Center… when first alone I fell for a “fellow single Christian” and was shocked to find myself sinning in a way that I would have never thought possible… I have asked for forgiveness, am now aware of my weakness in this area and for the sake of me standing up for abstinence and purity to prevent women from needing the help we offer them, I am even more effective, because I do understand how one can fall so easily… I have accountability partners and rely on Jesus to not fall again… while ministering in my role, I am, like any Christian, a broken and fallen sinner… only by God’s grace can He ever use us… it is Him.. not me…

  5. Melody says:

    I agree with you that part of it stems from a desire to feel better about our own sins. “At least I didn’t __________.” But I think the other part of it is a huge failure within the church to preach/believe in the transforming power of God. We seem to accept that we want people to “come to Jesus,” but it is o.k. that this person still __________. We don’t truly expect him/her to be transformed and turn away from whatever sin they are involved in. We make excuses and we justify them with the idea that we can’t judge. So if we don’t believe that God truly transforms, then when a Christian falls, we see it as what is expected rather than someone who totally messed up – as someone who can repent and be redeemed.

    I think the other part of it is that too many people don’t understand repentance. Too many Christians say “I’m sorry” and the other “correct” Christian apology words, and then they continue on their way to pursue sin (rather than holiness). I admit that due to this pattern, I am skeptical when someone “repents.” I know that is wrong on my part, but I see too many apologies instead of repentance. This is something I am working on.

  6. dan says:

    Great post! It’s so often we forget what Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 1.15 & 16, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him & receive eternal life.”

    I’m actually preaching on the very point that you made about God’s willingness & ability to redeem us out of his great love & use us despite our mistakes to accomplish his mission this Sunday.

    Maybe I’ll just read everyone this post instead…well not really.

  7. You Know Who says:

    My parents are in a church, that is trying to move past what the pastor has rightly called a “gross moral default” on the part of my father. He stepped down as elder, he is in counseling, and he and my mother continue to try and be a part of the body. Their pastor called for the church to move toward reconciliation, and restoration. He asked them to not gossip. To love and to forgive. My father has been assigned a “babysitter” during services. Someone goes with him if he leaves the sanctuary. I understand their caution. I understand their concern… There have been several members of the congregation who have left the church as a result of the pastor’s decision to embrace my father rather than turn him out. Some have stayed, but have said that if my father is allowed to lead the congregation in prayer, they will leave. He is not allowed to offer prayer at church dinners or during services. My parents try, Sunday after Sunday, to attend service and to be a part of what is going on there. But those few do not speak to him at church, and in public if they see him they turn around and go in another direction. Please remember that when you (general term, used to convey ‘everyone’) treat the individual who has sinned as if they are unlovable, irredeemable, and un-save-able, you are deeply hurting their families. We as the family are trying to adjust to this new territory that we are walking in. We as his family, have not only been betrayed by him, but the actions of our fellow Christians speak the truth of your heart about us as a WHOLE. We have in essence become identified with the “sinner” as if we committed the sin ourselves, when in truth, our only “sin” is trying to move forward and get used to our new normal. We not only have to navigate through the church family who is called to a higher standard, but also we are moving through the shark infested waters of our extended family now as well… My parent’s plight… isn’t just about YOU… We know you’re hurt, we know you are angry… please do what we are doing, try to find a new normal, and move forward, and if you need counseling to do it… well then… welcome to another part of our new lives… This all sucks more than YOU can even imagine. But remember, it could be you at some point…

    • Kelita Deems says:

      Dear “you know who”,

      I feel your pain, and I am sorry on behalf of the Christians who are focusing more on the error than they are on the restorer. :( I have written a booklet called Betrayed! Healing the wound, forgiving the friend. It sells on Amazon, however if you email me, I will send you a digital copy for free. It truly helped me when I was actually betrayed by my former pastor. God is bigger than all, and I pray for complete and total restoration. (kdeems@bowlesrice.com)

  8. boomama says:

    That’s a great word, Pete Wilson.

  9. Marty says:

    Bizarrely enough, I was up late one night & couldn’t sleep. Flipping channels, I found ‘The Eyes of Tammy Faye’ airing around 4 AM. I don’t know why, but I watched the whole thing. She said at one point that ‘Christianity is the only organized group of people that doesn’t protect their wounded.’

    I think that, in many instances, that’s true. I often wonder if people think that becoming a Christ follower makes you immune to sin, and, with that, gives you the right to look down your nose at those most in need of healing. For instance, a dear friend of mine is struggling with an alcohol problem. She recently went public with her quest to get sober. And, a lot of people at her church basically shunned her.

    I think that, in order to truly embrace the redemptive powers of Christ, people have to get a little more introspective than they’re probably comfortable. Until we recognize our own brokenness, we can’t embrace others on the quest to heal their own.

  10. Beth says:

    I think a believer has to be initiated into a worldview of the cross. Initiation could take minutes, hours or long, hard fought years.

    I don’t think our insecurities are ever settled beyond attrition. We’re each in a constant struggle to make meaning in our lives.

    Which isn’t to say it is easy.

    While I try not to judge I have mixed feelings about different kinds of sin in the Church.

    On the whole I agree we should love our brothers and sisters. I simply have trouble putting it into practice.

    I have baggage. Huge designer holdalls of resentment.

    Ugly.

  11. Emily Rowe says:

    Bam…..speak it Brother! That’s good stuff! Going to do some self eval on this! Love you Pete!

  12. Sandy Lavender says:

    Pete this is truly a very “touchy” subject. I say this because we are so aware of the fact that there for the grace of God go I. It breaks my heart to read some of the comments. For this reason people are afraid of confessing their “sin”. The church according to Gods word should be a safe haven. In many cases it is not. Its seems that there are those who want to be forgiven but are not willing to forgive.
    The church we attend has a reconcilation program. Because it is a larger church (4000+) we don’t hear of the issues that are being referred to. But recently I along with 2 other Moms shared with one another that we each have a gay child. The one Mom threw herself into my arms with relief that she was able to share her burden. Her fear of being an “outcast” was very evident. My desire would be that parents of gay children should be able to come together for support and community prayer. Please pray that God would bring others to us and we could support each other without the “judging” of others.
    Thanks Pete for bringing this very timely subject up

  13. Garet says:

    That is sad. Pete, I am constantly encouraged by your blogs. I see your passion for the Lord and your longing to share with others His love! God bless you friend!

  14. Holli says:

    I am always reminded of this attitude in myself when I watch “Jonah” the Veggie Tales movie with my kids. We want to rebuke people for what they’re doing wrong, but we don’t want to see them changed in many cases.

    If we can say, “Well, I’m not as bad as so-and-so”, we can puff ourselves up and feel better about our own sins. This is something I catch myself doing on a regular basis. I am so thankful that I’m part of a community that has a ministry to help us all work through our “junk” and get free of those chains.

  15. Kathryn says:

    Great post Pete – I agree. If anything, I think deeply broken people would lead a church best because they can identify and TRULY help the broken people within the church, and really know deep in their hearts that is really is Christ who moves, saves, and redeems.

    One thing I’d like to add, if I may: I was thinking about Moses’ and David’s pasts and I remembered: they needed to go through spiritual journeys (if I can use that term) before they could be right with God, and continue with Him: Moses spent 40 years (did I get the numbers right?) in the desert before his ministry, and David was rebuked by Nathan and had serious consquences handed down by God.

    Please don’t misunderstand me – I really do agree with what you’re saying, and I’ve been known to love to hate (God is helping this hardness of my heart to soften): I think that time and consequences are a factor (how much time or how many consequences? Don’t really know) in the healing, reconciliation, and redemtion process, especially when it comes to being warriors for Christ :)

  16. It is so sad that the church is known more for shooting its wounded rather than helping its wounded …

  17. Ginger says:

    “Do you really WANT God to redeem Brad’s life?”
    As I sit here trying to answer that question, Jesus sermon on the mount comes to mind – “Do not judge so that you will not be judged.” (Matthew 7:1).

    The human part of me – the part that wants justice, fairness, vengeance – honestly does not want “Brad’s” life/ministry to be redeemed.

    There is this other part of me, half human/half Christian that desperately want God to redeem “Brad’s” life/ministry because it means if He can and will do it for “Brad”, then He can and might do it for me.

    Thankfully, both of those parts in me are slowly dying and are daily being transformed. That part of me, the one that is becoming more Christlike also desperately wants “Brad’s” life/ministry to be redeemed because I want to see “Brad” come alive in Christ again. I want to see how God is going to advance his kingdom through “Brad” and I want to see how Satan is defeated through “Brad’s” redemption.

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