Today was a sad day in Christendom when the news broke that Tullian Tchividjian had resigned from his ministry at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale. He admitted to moral failure which is another way of saying he had fallen into sin with another woman. Sadly, he is not the first leader who has given way to temptation nor will he be the last, but each time a man of God stumbles in this way, the ripples extend far beyond the immediate situation. Pastor Tullian's family is fractured not only by his actions but also his wife's, the church is reeling from the news and those outside of the immediate church are also heartbroken over this triumph of sin in the life of a believer. The argument in the secular world is that as long as my actions don't hurt anyone else then it doesn't matter what we do. Ah, but those words come from Satan himself because we do not live in a vacuum. We live in relationship to God whom we are all destined to meet one day either as judge or Savior and we are in relationship with one another. Our actions do make a difference.
If you do not believe me, look at the situation in Charleston, SC. The actions of one young man led to destruction of life in nine families and touched the whole community. Shock waves echoed around the nation as well as in the family of this young man. What devastation with the commission of this crime! This young man's life is over as he has known it no matter what the verdict is in the case. It is true what our Pastor preached this past Sunday: "Sin is the agent of death." Dreams die, hope dies, relationships die, and people are forever changed.
At best, we bear the marred image of our Creator. It is only when God, in His mercy, opens our hearts to receive the Good News of redemption in Christ that we can shake off the bondage of sin. Then, God the Holy Spirit goes about the work of sanctifying us and forming us into the image of His dear Son. However, this does not mean that we cannot fall into sin again. On the contrary, we still have the old sin nature clinging to us. The difference is, that now, we can choose to obey God or step into sin. Before this, we were in bondage and could only choose sin.
In his message, our Pastor preached on Hebrews 12:1-3: "Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured from sinners such hostility against Himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted." These words serve to remind all believers that we have many who, through their very lives as recorded in God's Word, have provided for us an encouraging example of how to live. They have gone before us to show us the way. Then, the writer tells us to throw off every weight and sin. This is what holds us back, trips us up and keeps us from looking to Jesus. Cain had the opportunity to turn things around when his sacrifice to God was not accepted. The Lord warned him that sin was crouching at his door (Genesis 4:7) and assured him that he would be accepted if he did what was right. However, we know that he chose to murder his brother in a jealous rage instead. By contrast, Joseph, who had been sold into slavery by his brothers, had the means and opportunity to sin with his master's wife. Yet, he ran from the temptation for he valued his relationship with God. Ultimately, he was the victor as a result of his faithfulness while Cain spent his life running from the Lord as a marked man. So what should our response be when we hear about the moral failure of others?
First, we need to come to grips with the fact that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23). Any one can be fall into sin. The Bible warns us to be on our guard and to flee temptation. Therefore, we need to be careful not to point the finger at others when they fall lest we also fall into the same trap.
Secondly, we need to be a people of prayer. Pray for Pastor Tullian Tchividjian, his family and church. In fact, pray daily for your church and your pastors. These are not easy days to walk in for any believer. Also, pray for your church leaders in any capacity that they may have God's wisdom.
Finally, if we find ourselves caught up in temptation, remember the high price we will pay if we choose to disobey God. We could lose our reputation, our family and hurt many others by an action we may take. Sin separates us from God and others. It is, indeed, an agent of death.
I am a firm believer in a God whose desire is to restore His children when they do fall. However, they must first repent and renounce their sin and turn again to the only One who can satisfy all our desires in this life and the life to come. Let us join together to pray for this situation and our own church bodies that the fire of sin may not tarnish the glory of God. Selah!