Abuse, Christians, and…

Many want to deny, hide their heads, or walk away when the topic of abuse arises. But such silence only gives abuse an open door. I wrote about this four years ago on this blog. It might be best to read that post first:

especially-for-men-in-the-church

Thankfully some have begun to bring light to the dark recesses of abuse. Consider

Natalie Greenfield

Danni Moss

And there are more.

Lisa on this issue

My good friend, Lisa Cooper, tweeted these statements about abuse this morning on Twitter. They are so pertinent to the Christian Church. Here are Lisa’s own words about this:

Because of this whole #FreeKesha thing (which I have been tweeting about in brief this morning), I feel the need to make a few comments:

1) There are SO MANY MORE women who have been abused than you will ever hear or know about. This doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

2) For all of us involved in the church, this is a REAL thing that we need to talk about, and a real ministry opportunity.

3) Caring about our neighbor means helping them through abuse, rape, and all of the other horrible sins that have been committed against them.

4) This is not a conservative/liberal issue. Because I care about my neighbor, I care if they have been sinned against. This is so important!

5) When talking about purity prior to marriage, tread lightly because ¼ women have been sexually abused. Most cases aren’t reported. This does not make them “damaged goods” or “unworthy of marriage.”

6) As people who represent Christ, we should be at the forefront offering support to those who have been abused, not the ones questioning.

Watch for more from Lisa and Angela in a podcast in the near future.

What Does This Mean?

For the church in general, let’s be aware of this significant problem confronting the Church. There are many hurting people in our midst and in our community. They need love, help, and hope. Ultimately that is what Jesus offers to all of us. As the Gospel has been proclaimed and taught here, some came to me to explain what they thought would be a critical move in caring for the abused. They didn’t need my permission, but I was delighted and supported their ideas.

Our congregation  located not far from a well traveled interstate. Those who had approached me wanted to do something that they saw was lacking. They made laminated signs with emergency numbers for abuse victims. They took them to every business to post in the women’s restrooms. All but one place allowed them to post. The women who worked at many places were so appreciative, some in tears. We were addressing something that no one wanted to hear or see, but many on the other side welcomed this as one sign that someone cared. And our members have become not only sensitive to this issue, they have provided ministry to victims.

Pastors and seminarians: let’s not let silence and ignorance about abuse become our mode of operating. Any abuse does not reflect the Christian faith. Become aware of all that is involved. Lovingly and patiently minister and care for those abused, for their families and friends. Let the Church be a community of refuge and love.

Paul provides some great encouragement for the Church.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort. (2 Cor. 1:3-7 NAS)

Notice that: 10 times the word “comfort” is used. We are not “comfortable Christians.”

We are comforted Christians who comfort others with the comfort we receive from Christ.

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Righteousness and Temptation

Our midweek Lenten service focuses on the tempations of Jesus in Matthew. The background of the temptation goes all the way back to Genesis 3:1–21. There Satan tempted Eve and Adam to rebel against God and His perfect creation. Likewise, Israel failed in meeting the temptations in the wilderness.

The sad reality is that because of Eve and Adam’s sin, we all have that heritage of sinning, submitting to the temptations of this world. Jesus takes on the human nature, not as corrupted by Eve and Adam, but as originally intended in creation. At His baptism Jesus begins to fulfill all righteousness (Matt. 3:15) now specifically by facing the temptations of unrighteousness. And the Holy Spirit who descended on Jesus is the One who leads (“drove Him” Mark 1:12) Him into the wilderness to be tempted (Matthew 4:1–11).

Jesus does this so that He can face the temptations of being human, very real temptations. But instead of giving in to them, Jesus conquers the temptations. Tonight we look more closely at how He did that and the implications for our own struggles with temptation.

Matthew 4:1-11 (NKJV)

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. And when He had fasted forty days and forty nights, afterward He was hungry. Now when the tempter came to Him, he said, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.’ ”

Then the devil took Him up into the holy city, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down. For it is written:

“He shall give His angels charge over you,’ and,
‘In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.’ ”

Jesus said to him, “It is written again, ‘You shall not tempt the LORD your God.’ ”

Again, the devil took Him up on an exceedingly high mountain, and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to Him, “All these things I will give You if You will fall down and worship me.”

Then Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.’ ”

Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and ministered to Him.

Thus, God’s plan of saving humans is not left to humans’ futile attempts. Rather salvation will be accomplished by Jesus, true God and true Man, who overcomes temptation for us. Not only does Jesus die for our sins (passive obedience), He also lives the perfect life for us (active obedience). And both are credited to our account which faith receives (Gen. 15:6; Romans 3:21–26, 2 Cor. 5:21, etc.)

From C. F. W. Walther

Lord Jesus, how great is Your love toward us who have deserved nothing but wrath! Because we have come short of the glory of God, You, the Lawgiver Himself, put Yourself under the Law, fulfilling it perfectly in our stead, to procure for us the righteousness that avails before God.

With our sins we called down upon ourselves the temporal and eternal punishments of the just and holy God. But You humbled Yourself unto death, even death on the cross; by suffering and dying for us, You bore our punishment to purchase for us grace and pardon for all our sins (Philippians 2:8; Isaiah 53:4)

O Lord Jesus, Who truly “first loved us” (1 John 4:19), indeed unto death, grant us grace not to remain indifferent to such love, but let Your love kindle within us true love for You, so that we will love You not merely “in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18)

Hear us for Your blessed name’s sake. Amen

[For the Life of the Church – C.F.W. Walther, CPH, 2011; thanks Lynda, for sending this]

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If you are in Frazier Park tonight, come to the soup supper at 6 PM and worship at 7 PM.