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Death and Judgement

Since August I have served as the facilitator for the ISS program at a Georgia Middle School.  It gives me an interesting perspective on a large group of young people and the different dynamics involved in the modern middle school student.  Mostly I get to see what causes them to serve time in my room and counsel them on behavior and things of that nature.  But I also get to see how they react to having to serve time.  Some come in very somber and quiet.  Others complain the entire day about having to serve time and how they don’t agree with it.

The incredible thing is that the students you would never suspect of breaking the major rules, are just as capable if not guilty as the “bad kids” you would expect.  In fact most of the repeat offenders I have are for minor offenses.  The kids who come in and serve long sentences are the quiet kids who never cause any more trouble, yet they are given a second chance without so much as a second thought.  For example one student served time for four days because of bringing an illegal substance to school (yes I know, the ambiguity of that statement is massive, and no don’t Facebook me and ask because I won’t tell you).  yet when he completed his time he was back in the good graces of all the teachers.  Yet when a so called “bad kid” serves one day because of an outburst in a classroom, they don’t receive that same sort of restoration.  they have to deal with a label for however long they are here.

Now one may say that this is because they haven’t learned their lesson, or that they are defiant.  Okay, so be it.  how many times have you made the same mistake?(and be honest its very unhealthy to lie to yourself, trust me on this one).  There are reasons behind everything you do, some may be good valid reasons, some may be poor rationalizations, or in the case of 100% of middle school students a major chemical overload combined with a major necessity to be accepted by everyone of their peers.  Fact is some kids mess up more than others.  Broadening our spectrum a bit more we see that some adults have the same problem.  I have had the honor of being one of them, time will tell if I make it past that stage of life.  This brings me to the purpose of this article.

I was reading up on a Christian artist who within the last couple of years has had a fall from grace and a regeneration of sort.  You can draw your own conclusions on the artist yourself.  His name is Steve Fee.  I love his music.  As a musician and a worship leader I think he has some great stuff and a ton of talent.  That aside, he made a mistake.  Welcome to humanity.  Upon reading the article I was pleased at what the blogger said.  Said basically what I am saying, the man messed up, admitted his mistake, and has asked for forgiveness and sought out reconciliation with his wife and is fixing the problem.

What struck me like a slap in the face was the denouncement of Steve as a servant of God by fellow Christians responding to the blog.  They basically said he was done, never should he be a worship leader again.  Some were even so bold as to claim that based on Scripture he should not be a leader.  Funny, I have two degrees in Religion and fail to find the logic behind that.  They quoted Paul (you know chief of sinner who wrestled with something that we were never actually privy to full knowledge of).  The assumption with that argument was that after Paul was saved he never made a mistake.  I fail to accept that since we are not given a minute by minute account of Paul’s life, just a collection of letters that he wrote to churches and a brief synopsis of his missionary journeys.  You cannot assume that Paul never sinned or made a mistake.  If you do be very careful because my understanding of scripture is that Jesus is the only one to live a sinless life, thus Paul is out of the running on that one.  But by this same logic of casting Steve aside as lost to sin.  We have to look at Peter just as we do Paul.  I think we can all agree Peter made a huge mistake when he denied Jesus.  And yet we see Jesus forgiving Peter.  In fact we see Peter rise the head of the Church in Jerusalem.  So why, when Peter made his mistake is he allowed to be a leader, and Steve Fee not?  It doesn’t sit well with me that we make a hierarchy of sin.  Sin is the actions of our heart and lives that are counter to God’s will for our lives.  Nowhere in the definition of sin is there room for different levels.  And yet I have been in Sunday morning services and heard the “good ole boy” interpretation and the judgement cast down upon people for these so called “great sins”.  Separation from God is simply that.  It is separation from God, meaning you don’t get to be near Him, with Him, in His presence, you are cast out.  One sin doesn’t put your farther away!  The people who view life that way have some serious issues with their own lives that they are trying to cover up.

Here is the attitude required, and thankfully the one I see every Sunday at my home church.  God is good and He forgives.  Not because we deserve it, but because He is able, and loving.  It is not for us to judge, not for us to cast down death upon those who would fall.  Because in reality, we are all born into sin, every single one of us.  God is the only one who is able to judge.  We need to understand that someones past cannot be allowed to hold power in the present if we are truly forgiven people.  I stole something from a convenience store when I was in middle school, does that make me a theif? No, it makes me a sinner.  It proves that I am in need of grace, and praise God I have it anew every morning.

If we were to truly have a view into every church leader’s life, and every dark and deep corner of those that we put on high pedestals in our own minds, I guarantee you that you would find something that you would not like.  It reminds me of what I was told by a hunter one time.  People smell terrible.  So instead of trying to prove your piety by casting someone down for their mistakes, be grateful God has forgiven you, and still has a plan for all of us.  If we didn’t let forgiven people lead us, then we wouldn’t even have a Bible to read because we would have burned all of their letters and sought for someone more perfect (wait…isn’t that the same problem the pharisees had with Jesus?)  Tolkien has a great line in Lord of the Rings, Gandalf tells Frodo, “do not be so quick to deal out death and judgement”  wise words.

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