It’s been said that Christianity is the only army that kills its wounded. My experience has shown that statement to be less than accurate in many cases. In the real world, much of what calls itself Christianity opts to kick, beat, and torture its wounded, and then leaves them to die.
I realize that statement sounds a bit harsh, and perhaps a little venomous. Let me assure you that I make that statement with a genuine note of solemn sadness—as much as I would like to think otherwise, I know from personal experience that in many cases it’s true. Even those who speak strongly of grace, restoration, and healing often put subtle limits on just how far God can go in that process of healing and restoration.
There have been many soldiers in God’s army that have stumbled along the way and been wounded by their enemies—war is like that. Many who have sincerely repented and received great healing and restoration in their lives have found themselves forever banished from further service—considered to be disqualified by their battle scars. For example, the largest protestant denomination in America—representing nearly 25% of all church members in the nation—explicitly forbids individuals who are divorced from career missionary service, regardless of the circumstances of the divorce or current condition of the individual. Other denominations forbid the ordination of divorced people, and some even revoke the credentials of ordained ministers who divorce—again, without consideration of circumstance or individual condition.
I’ve come to understand that many otherwise mature believers haven’t come to a deep, inner understanding of the true nature of grace. Without exception, I’ve found that those with deep convictions regarding God’s ability to completely heal and totally restore wounded soldiers are people whose lives have been personally touched by that restoration and grace. One nationally prominent pastor spent most of his life and ministry standing firmly against allowing divorced people into leadership or ministry positions. One day, his adult daughter appeared on his doorstep with a suitcase in her hand, separated from her husband and about to become a divorcee. Through his experience of ministering to his daughter’s broken, bruised heart, this man of God developed a new and deeper understanding of grace, forgiveness and healing—an understanding that changed his theological position regarding the eligibility of divorced men for ordination and service. To this man’s credit, he stood before his church of many years and publicly confessed that he was wrong in his earlier position in the matter.
It seems that, for some people, such experience is the only way that they can truly understand the awesome power of grace. In fact, those who are the most capable ministers of healing grace are those who have been deeply wounded, and have experienced that healing grace personally. Refusing to allow them to be ministers of that grace is like refusing to let an experienced surgeon into an operating room.
When you really come to a deep, intimate understanding of grace, you will understand that the righteous, faithful saint is just as needy as the foulest and vilest of sinners; “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23,24). That’s what makes grace what it is—it’s freely available whether you deserve it or not. The fact that one man fell into sin and another did not doesn’t make one any more or less eligible for God’s grace than the other; “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8,9).
If a believer has committed the sin of divorce, acknowledged that sin, and repented to the best of his or her ability, that sin is covered by the blood of Christ: “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7). If the blood of Christ is not sufficient to cover that person’s sin of divorce, and to bring him or her to full healing and restoration, then it is not sufficient to cover the sins of the non-divorced, either—and we’re all in a heap of trouble.
God’s Grace is either Grace FOR ALL, or it is not Grace AT ALL.