Newsletter, Spotlight

An Invitation to the Light

Something weird happens to you when you’re a pastor. When you’re around people, they swear less, they apologize for saying vulgar things, they try to hide sin so they appear like saints. And it’s not just so that they appear like better people. It’s as if they want to protect me. As if I went into ministry to hide from sin and the world. Like I’ll feel violated if I hear something less than saintly. Like I’m a monk. You could call it funny. You could call it cute.

But I call it the work of Satan.

Satan wants you to hide your darkness. There’s a huge difference between a monk and a pastor. While the monk might be trying to hide from the world and all its ugliness, a pastor is trying to be exposed to the world and all its ugliness. While a monk tries himself to be closer to God, the pastor is trying to help you be closer to God. While a monk condemns sin when he sees it, the pastor forgives it.

God’s forgiveness is God’s forgiveness no matter who delivers it. What’s different about a pastor is that it’s my job to provide forgiveness, hope, and healing. Anyone can provide it, but a pastor is present so that you know there is always someone who can provide forgiveness and healing in your community, no matter what you bring to them. You may question whether you can safely admit your guilt to your spouse. You may wonder whether you can trust your friend with the news you’ve been sexually abused. You may wonder who would really care about the depression or suffering that won’t go away.

The truth is that God provides many wonderful people in our lives to bring things to; in fact that’s the point of a Christian community (also known as the church)! But to absolutely know that your darkness will be met with warm light, God provides someone whose job it is to give you that forgiveness and gospel healing: the pastor.

Here’s the thing: I’ve seen it all before. In my ministry, I’ve dealt with heinous sin, horrifying abuse, horrible suffering. I’ve experienced a lot of that personally. Satan wants you to hide it, to keep it all in, as if the gospel is dangerous. No one wants to unhide their sin. Our culture is working to help victims come forward exposing past abuse. Satan tries to convince us that abuse we have been victims of is somehow our sin. We tell ourselves that it’s selfish to include others in our personal suffering. But here’s my invitation: expose it.

Out culture is seeing a radical revolution of exposing sexual abuse right now. For all the fear that some accusations may be false, I rejoice that we are starting to see a culture where victims are not expected to hide the abuse they suffered. The truth is, Jesus cares about your suffering. He doesn’t want to you to suffer alone. Jesus provides restoration, dignity, and healing. Satan isolates, buries, and shames. Jesus draws close, exposes, and redeems.

If you bring your sin, your abuse, or your suffering to me, I promise you three things: forgiveness, confidentiality, help. It’s my job to give you the gospel. As a called and ordained servant of Christ, when you bring me your sin and desire forgiveness, I don’t have a choice — I have to forgive it.

My invitation is for all: pornography addicts, victims of sexual abuse, sexual abusers, adulures, couples who are contemplating divorce, divorcees, drug addicts, alcoholics, thieves, murderers, lonely widows, orphans, atheists, doubting Christians, anyone angry at God, people who have never been to church, people who think church is boring, people who have been hurt by the church. Fill in the blank. No matter what it is Jesus loves you, Jesus cares about whatever you bring to him. It’s my job to be here for you. Again, I promise you three things: forgiveness, confidentiality, help.

As a pastor, my job is to bring the light of the gospel into dark situations. I provide forgiveness for confession, hope for suffering, help for addiction, an ally for abuse victims, counseling for troubled marriages, an ear for complaint against God or his church. Whatever your need is, my invitation is open to you.

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