People fall.

I don’t even think of it as falling any more. We screw up, it’s what we do. The measure of our faithfulness isn’t in how many times we fall down (or how creatively, because believe me, some days it feels like I have an entire Research & Development wing devoted to finding new ways for me to screw up), but in our ability to get up, dust ourselves off, and keep going.

Yet too often, the Church eats its own. It’s like we make a sport of trampling over the fallen as if that’s part of their punishment and our holy duty to do so. We assume the authority to judge whether another is doing ministry the way God wants, living lifestyles in line with how “Christians should act” (because there’s only one mold apparently), and being spiritual the way we should (again, back to that one mold).

No wonder so many niche ministries have such a defensive posture when talking to their brethren. They recognize that it’s easier to think ill of our neighbor, that they don’t do ministry right, rather than credit them with not only wanting to do ministry, but appreciating their ability to do things you can’t and reach people you couldn’t. There’s lots of room to be the body of Christ, yet too many folks want everyone to be a toe. Listen to how different church people treat each other when they disagree. We can’t have a generous orthodoxy, where one party doesn’t have the sole key to how things are interpreted, but rather we not only slander but dehumanize our brothers and sisters.

Heaven help you if you actually sin. Again, love and forgiveness should be our calling cards, but we can be a murderously intolerant lot. I’d daresay there is a hatred in how we treat folks sometimes, especially those we’ve deemed fallen/sinners. The thing about fallen folks is that now their façade is gone. There’s no longer that need for pretense, you are what you are, it’s been revealed to all (and in truth, it now makes you … no different than the rest of us). Our treatment of “the fallen” should be where we shine most, being a hospital for the sick, demonstrating the grace, the redemption, the inclusion, and the power to transform and heal as a community comes along side them.

Basically people, I know I’m going to “fall” (we’ll just my regular lifestyle hiccups as mere stumbles). I know I’m going to let people down. I know that I will struggle. And when I do, I want a community to come alongside me, allow me to be broken, and then help restore me in love and grace. That’s what I’d like to see out of a spiritual community.

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