Sometimes it is difficult for me to get to a place of relation. Really difficult. In this case, it has nothing to do with the positive. I do not struggle to relate to Bishop T.D. Jakes because of his powerful preaching or his obvious business prowess. All those things are inside of me too (yet in development still). It is more humbling than that.
It is hard for me to relate to him as a fallen sinner in need of Jesus.
Not because I don’t see him as one, but today I somehow forgot how sinful I can be. As far along in my journey as I have come, I still have much ground to cover. So does Bishop Jakes. We all do, which is why the Lord’s mercy is new every morning. We have new need of it every morning. My bout of pride, mixed with a little fervor for the holiness of the church, made for an interesting sequence of events.
I greatly admire Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation church. Last night I watched a live broadcast of his conversation with Bishop T.D. Jakes. There was some useful wisdom in there of what I could catch between running up and down stairs trying to put my daughter to bed (that child never sleeps!), and I was taking in all that I could.
I’ve never favored Bishop Jakes per se, but he’s got a lot of knowledge in some areas that I do not, so I listened carefully. My open-mindedness came to a screeching halt as I watched the end of the broadcast, when The Bishop led the congregation in singing “I Beleieve I Can Fly” by R Kelly.
I immediately set about formulating how to best make people hear that this is not ok. I thought of all the pictures from social media recently of church members marching against human trafficking for the A-21 Foundation. And here these two greats in the church are singing songs written by a child molesting, abusive misogynist who is currently under investigation for, guess what? Sex trafficking.
Talk about fire in my bones!
I could feel it welling up from the deepest parts of me and I had zero qualms about telling the world what had just happened. In a single zealous moment, I turned from a woman passionate about grace to a woman passionate about justice… forgetting that the two work hand-in-hand in the Kingdom of God.
I forgot that my God is already aware and working on this problem in the church. And I took to my soapbox to fill in for what I thought He wasn’t doing fast enough.
I started slamming Bishop Jakes on social media (not realizing this is what I was doing at the time because, well… righteous indignation, right?). Soon after, a friend confronted me publicly with her disapproval of what I was doing. I didn’t care. I was right.
The funny thing about being right is that, absent grace… we cease to be right.
Justification of my own righteous anger ends at the place where it turns to love, and declares, “I got this. I no longer need you.” It ends at the place where I start demonizing people in order to assign blame, which is only for my selfish desire of wanting the problem to be solved faster.
People turn to problems when grace departs from judgement, and no amount of me being “right” would ever justify dehumanizing anyone.
I know this in the pit of me and yet, being still a sinner on even my best day, I am prone to wander from truth. If I don’t intentionally remind myself that Bishop Jakes is not only a leader, but also a human being who makes mistakes and sins just like me, just like the rest of us, I can become a great tool of division against the very church I love so much.
I believe we are at a turning point in the church where grace is replacing judgement in our outreach to the world. Thank the Lord!
Lets not stop there. Let’s extend our leaders that same attitude of grace they have been praying for us to have for so long. I’m not saying they are always right, that’s why they need grace too. But I am saying that God will judge them in a way appropriate for what they have been entrusted with and we cannot assume the role of judge and remain graceful. By all means, speak out against injustice. But don’t do what I did today and stoop to throwing your brother or sister in Christ under the bus because of pride or impatience.
In the presence of the Lord we all fall short. We become Christians because we know this, and we know that grace is the solution. Not judgement.
Its not the end of the world because one of my favorite preachers did something I don’t agree with. It’s not even my job to argue that there might be some sinning mixed into this situation. I’m not in that room. Maybe someday I will be blessed with the opportunity to influence some of our promenant leaders. Today, I have you all.
That is not a lesser thing to me.
So now I ask forgiveness for failing to lead you well today. I ask you to stay with me. I might stumble but I still know where I’m going. I can only pray that, should I ever have such a great platform and responsibility as T.D. Jakes or Steven Furtick, you all will remember this moment and continue to extend me the same grace when I fall… as I hope you do now.
Grace to all of you. Thank you once again for being a part of my journey and letting me be a part of yours.