Getting Caught

Time for a soapbox moment...

I was talking recently to a young man who was caught in an affair, subsequently fired from his church, and is wrestling with his next steps.  He wants to do the right thing and is seeking reconciliation with his wife.  He served on staff at a fairly large church.

I asked him how his lead pastor responded to the situation and his reply came as no surprise.  The pastor was harsh, chastised him, and then proceeded to inform him that the only reason he was coming clean was because he got caught.  Let's be clear: that statement is TRUE.  If he had not been caught, he did not plan to come clean.  He was not overwhelmed with guilt and confess his sin without first getting caught.  For this reason, the pastor felt justified in his less than gracious response.

"If you had not been caught..."

This preface to whatever words follows it drives me crazy.  It is a statement I heard repeatedly when I went through a similar situation over 3 years ago. Here's why it bothers me...

Repentance often follows exposure. There is not time for me to list the biblical characters who "got caught" before repenting and turning from their sin.  King David is a classic example.  David was an adulterer and murderer and there is NO indication he had any plan of coming clean before being called out by Nathan the prophet.  He was caught in his sin which eventually led to his repentance and restoration. 

I can name dozens of others from Adam & Eve to Paul to Abraham to Moses to Noah.  The list is endless. 

* I will not even begin to discuss the reality that many of the big dogs in the Bible commit blatant sins and the Bible subsequently provides NO record of their repentance.

Here's a truth: God often uses exposure to lead people to repentance. 

There are very few examples in the Bible of people reaching a place of repentance without first being caught at some level.

And by the way, there is no clear cut time frame provided by which a person must reach that place of repentance. For this particular young man, thankfully his repentance happened quickly.  For others, it takes weeks, months, even years!  It took me a window of time to reach a place of true repentance. I made more sinful and poor decisions in the process.  However, God never stopped pursuing me. He was relentless.  He exposed more sin. He brought more deception to light.  And in the process, His exposure of my sin eventually led to my full repentance and potential restoration.

Sin is deceptive.  It is often difficult to think clearly and rightly during a time of exposure. You scramble. You hide. You lie.  And yet God never gives up.  He exposes so that He might heal and redeem

We love to talk about grace, forgiveness, reconciliation, and healing.  But applying and living it gets messy and complicated.

Getting caught is tough.  It is less than ideal. And yet it happens more often than not.  It is clearly a method that God employs to lead His children to repentance and redemption.

Jesus died for those who get caught.  He died for the guilty.  He died for the exposed. 

We actually have an example in the New Testament of how Jesus responded to a woman who was actually "caught in the act of adultery" (John 8:4).  Sound familiar?  Maybe a re-read of that particular passage (John 8:1-11) would help remind us how to respond when we are faced with someone who has been caught in the very act

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