“How do you feel?”
My wife was asking for my input.
We were both reflecting upon hearing news that one among our social circles that a pastor was recently arrested for several accounts of sexual abuse and molestation for people in his youth group years ago. Some at the church, and some even at the homes where these girls lived. Several women have come forward since the allegation to testify.
It’s a horrifying experience that no one should have to experience.
We were both wrestling in that moment how it impacted people we personally knew. We were shocked as people who knew him could only recall that they had no idea it was going on and that he could live a seemingly normal life and hide the demons at the same time.
“So how do you feel?”, she asked me. I thought long and hard about what to say next.
Understandably, most people on hearing the news are absolutely disgusted by the monstrosities that occurred.
I too felt disgust and pain. But something else was stirring inside of me.
After my silence, like being awakened from a dream, she asked again, “How do you feel about this?”
I came to my senses and finally confessed how I felt:
I felt humbled.
I felt humbled because as most people wonder how someone degrades to such levels of demonic behaviors, it wasn’t a mystery to me.
It’s quite simple actually…
A look becomes a thought,
A thought becomes a fantasy,
A fantasy becomes a plan,
A plan becomes an action,
An action becomes a behavior,
A behavior becomes a pattern,
A pattern becomes your character.
And your character becomes your destiny.
I assure you this man’s destiny, though now forever tarnished, didn’t start with those ambitions. There’s a reason the Bible calls sin a seed–a seed that when given time and the right circumstances to grow, matures into death.
The reason I was humbled is because these paths are available to everyone. Me as a male, in varying positions of authority, with equal potential of depravity in my thought and fantasy life, given the same circumstances, I was wrecked with how quickly a seed could turn into a tree.
Therein lies the golden question: “What’s the difference between the molester and me?”
If not by the grace of God, I wouldn’t have had the courage to dig deep into my heart and life to tackle these depravities. If not by the grace of God, I wouldn’t have had the wisdom to surround myself with good honest men who seek to honor women. If not by the grace of God, I wouldn’t have had the wisdom of having practices of never being in compromising situations. If not by the grace of God, I wouldn’t have learned to never trust myself or even my desires.
If not by the grace of God, who’s to say I or you wouldn’t be in the same position?
Sometimes people don’t have a choice of what depravity they wrestle with in their life. No one aspires to be a molester when they were asked who they wanted to be when they grow up. The same goes with murderers, adulterers, fornicators, oppressors, and the list goes on.
All these, I assure you start their journey from the heart. The very same heart you and I are equipped with. The very same heart, apart from the grace of God, could grow trees that lead us and others into death.
It is appropriate to cast judgment and to exact punishment.
But equally so, we should be humbled because the same de-evolution can quickly happen to any of us.
Lord, let justice be made on that wickedness and the million others in our world. Yet also, grant us humble knees to see that, apart from you, alas, we are not different. Apart from the transforming work of the Holy Spirit within us, we would be lost and without hope in the world. Help us, therefore, to come to table of your presence that we may be made new.