Restoration in a Transformational Community 8: Learning from Jesus How to Be a Safe Person
Another truth that Apostle John’s story shows us about being safe is that you cannot be put off by the nature of the sin the person committed. Shocking though it may seem to you, believers are more than capable of doing every destructive act in the book. The young disciple John chased (told about in a previous blog, Learning How to Be a Safe Person from John) had not merely given himself over to stealing from people. To be a robber in that day meant you killed people for their goods. You left no witnesses. This is why John kissed his right hand, a hand that had been bloodied by the deaths of his victims. If John was certain of anything, it was that Jesus would forgive even this sin.
Just as you have to challenge your hierarchy for valuing people in the church, you also have to face off any tendency to make a hierarchy of sin. All sin that has people caught in its clutches is forgivable if repentance happens. They can be restored. Engaged in homosexuality? A three-some? Murdered a child? Violence against a spouse? Incest? Robbed the elderly of their life savings and left them destitute, perhaps dying impoverished? Think of any shocking sin that you can add to this list and ask yourself, “Is anything too hard for God?”
I know. Some of you already are asking whether or not this person we are talking about is even a Christian. I’ve heard that many times before. And the answer is: “I don’t know.” BUT I do know that you have to chase that person, if for no other reason than to proclaim the gospel into his or her life. If for no other reason than to love them and fulfill the law of Christ. Even if that person walks away instead of being restored, you have acted out righteousness.
Maybe from this distance Peter’s denial of Jesus doesn’t shock you enough for you to put his sin into this category. But Jesus had taught his disciples that if they denied him before men, he would deny them in turn before the Father. For this reason, Peter’s three-time denial of Jesus at Pilate’s courtyard was a jumping-into-the-pit of the highest order. So ask yourself, what was Jesus’ first priority after his resurrection? That’s right—Peter’s restoration. And you also know who was present when Jesus was finishing Peter’s restoration—John (John 21:20-23). Can you wonder at why an aging John was not willing to let the young disciple go? John learned from the master. And if you are a disciple, you do as the master does. That is what makes you safe.