Pride was evident long before anyone knew why. His preaching lost its compassionate edge, and was replaced by an angry confrontational one. Something was different, but no one knew what it was. They feared the worst, but hoped for the best. They hung on because of his past track record, but what they were seeing was not the man they called to be their pastor. Then, one day, everyone discovered his deep dark secret. His sin was exposed and he was disgraced. The man who stood in robes of strength and power, stood naked and exposed for the sinner he was. At that moment, he is forced to be what he was not willing to be before; naked. At that moment he does what his forefather, Adam did. He runs and hides to cover that nakedness.
It is at this moment that a precious life will be either lost or salvaged. If everyone treats him with the gasps of horror at seeing his sins exposed, he may never come out of hiding, and not only will his life be adversely affected, but so will the lives of his family. If people accept him for what he always was before his nakedness was exposed, he may step out of hiding so restoration can begin. There are some things we all should remember about the pastor who has been exposed.
1. We are all naked under our clothes. In other words, we are all sinners covered by our fancy clothes of works. Once the clothing of works is stripped away, we see the ugly truth of a man’s sinful humanity. “for there is no difference: For ALL have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”
2. Pastors are often seen as clothed in positional perfection, rather than Christ’s righteousness like the rest of us. The position does not a holy man make. Personal holiness is as much a battle for the pastor as it is for the construction worker.
3. When a pastor’s nakedness is exposed, it is seen by more people than the rest of us, so he is more likely to want to go into hiding. Most people can just stop going to church, but a pastor often feels he must move away and go into hiding.
4. Even pastors sometimes forget they are naked. Like Adam, sin is a reminder. Oh how easy it is for a pastor to believe the accolades of his people. Preaching good sermons does not make you a good Christian any more than listening to them does.
5. There is a covering for fallen pastors that humble restoration can bring. However, the humility must not only come from the pastor but from the members as well. It is the restorer who is called upon to be spiritual in the spirit of meekness.
6. If we don’t love him naked, then we did not love him clothed. If you only loved your pastor because of what you thought he was, then you never really loved him at all. That is an eye opener to a pastor who falls.
7. The garments of a restored preacher are much humbler after his nakedness has been exposed and he has been reclothed by God’s grace. Yet, we shun him when he is now better equipped to serve. Strange, isn’t it?
8. There are no labels on Christ’s garments. There is no scarlet letter or insignia’s to label one with their past sins. Do not label that one after he has been reclothed in Christ’s forgiveness. Praise the Lord, Christ garment has a big “R” on it for righteousness.
9. Finally, and most importantly, you are no better than he, for we are all undeserving sinners saved by the mercy and grace of God.
I have been there. When once I was dressed in the clothing of my eloquence and my abilities, the next day I was exposed, naked in my sins. It is devastating, frightening, humiliating. All I could think to do was to hide my shame. Thank God for those who brought me the robe of God’s mercy, grace, and forgiveness and covered me so that I could find my way back to God. (DH)