Often we are under the impression that church leaders—especially those of large congregations—are exempt from consequences. We’ve heard stories of preachers who’ve managed to get away with sin for a long time and wonder who else is hiding something.
The truth is, no one truly gets away with sin. Even Moses, as leader of Israel, and Aaron, as high priest, didn’t escape unscathed.
But the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not trust me enough to demonstrate my holiness to the people of Israel, you will not lead them into the land I am giving them!”
Numbers 20:12 (NLT)
Aaron died before Israel made it to the Promised Land and it was Joshua, not Moses who was leading at that time.
But there is hope. There is grace.
Last summer one of the pastors I listened to on a regular basis was removed from his position by his own church. The church he started. The church he watched grow from nothing to thousands. He’d succumbed to alcohol addiction and it was affecting his ability to minister effectively. Rumours flew that he might be cheating on his wife or that old issues with pornography addiction had flared up. The world turned on him. I stopped listening to him.
Until another pastor that I have a great amount of respect for offered this “fallen man” his stage. Not just for a weekday service. Not just one weekend service. But for their anniversary service. My first reaction was shock. How could anyone let this man ever take the stage again?
I realised I had become judge and jury for this man. If another pastor whom I respect would give him room, why couldn’t I? So I listened to that sermon he preached from the stage that was not his own. And on February 5, 2017, Perry Noble stood on the stage at Elevation Church and preached a message on grace and forgiveness from a place only a man who truly knew what it felt like could.
Even though Moses and Aaron failed to obey God, God never failed them. Though they had to suffer the consequences of their sin, God never let go of them.
We all fall. And we all have the opportunity to get back up again. I realised that, if I want a hand to reach out when I’m down, I can’t be the person to deny my hand to the one who is down.
There are consequences. But there is still grace.
Daily Bible reading: Numbers 18-20, Mark 7:1-13