Recently, I read an article about a youth pastor from New Orleans who was arrested for sexually abusing one of the 14-year-old girls in his youth group. Naturally, I felt sad for those involved. How could a youth pastor do such a thing? Oh, the poor girl. That church. What a tragedy.
And then I kept reading. I read about the plans the pastor of the church had made, how to address the students of the youth group + their parents, and how he assured everyone that the safety of the children of their church was of utmost importance. Finally, it listed the name of the youth pastor.
Oh. I know him.
Not well, but I know him. We went on a mission trip together in 2008. A friend of mine has seen him a couple of times at conferences since our mission trip. We’re facebook friends. Immediately, I thought of this guy that I know who loves to run, who made us all laugh when we were in San Diego, and who has a wife and little girl. He wasn’t just this malicious person who committed a sin; he was a person I’d shared meals with, a person I’d prayed with, a person with a family.
A person in need of grace just like you and me.
Our world is quick to demand justice. The people who did wrong should pay! My 5th graders say this all the time–the second someone does something to them that’s wrong, they are right beside me to tell me about it. But, the second they misbehave? Oh, no. They don’t want to face the consequences at all. I think this is an accurate attitude of our world as a whole.
Part of me agrees wholeheartedly. You break the rules–you should suffer the consequences. No questions asked! But, that’s not what the Gospel is. What makes the Gospel so different is that, “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Oh, the grace. The grace He has bestowed upon us, and will continue to do so until the day He returns for us, is just that–grace. How undeserving are we.
Yes, there are consequences of sin. Yes, God is also a just God. Yes, this youth pastor broke the law and there will be a punishment. But, God. Oh, the grace. Oh, how bountiful it is and how He lavishes it upon us. What a privilege.
Oh, how I pray I would always remember to live in light of the grace He’s given.