Over the last few days I have had the privilege of hearing and discussing the issue of grace and restoration; especially how it applies to Christian leaders who have “fallen” and how the larger christian community responds to these leaders.
Specifically Ted Haggard.
This conference was called the Grace Initiative Roundtable. Honestly, that’s exactly what it was. It was a full on conversation about grace, forgiveness, and restoration. We were pushed to the edge about what we believed and had been taught about the topics of grace, restoration, and forgiveness, and encouraged to push back to what the moderators were saying.
I had only met Ted once before, I had received his number from a mutual friend, and so I began to reach out to him for lunch. We live in the same city so it made it easy for us to meet.
I had heard of all the stuff that he had been through, but at the time I lived 1800 miles away, so I made my judgements like most of the other main stream public, and figured he got what he deserved. Just like the majority of the Christian public, I had the stones in my hand, ready to pronounce judgement on the church superstar.
I don’t remember having a lot of conversations about Ted, until we moved to Colorado to plant a church. Then for some reason I felt I needed to reach out to him and honor him as a leader in our community.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when we met, would he be on guard? Fake? Could I connect with him?
After our initial meeting, I thought it was a little odd. I am just being honest. I guess I expected him to walk in the restaurant with his head held down and covered with a newspaper. Not the case. He was outgoing, bold, loud, and confident. At first I was a little taken aback at his forwardness with me and the staff at the restaurant, but I soon realized that this was the Ted Haggard I had heard about. Friendly, outgoing, and especially not afraid to talk about his scandal. Our time together flew by, as he told me about our city, his family, his journey to healing, and his current church plant. This was not the man I had pre-judged. Because he was so confident and outgoing, I mistook it as, “well, he isn’t really healed, because he would be soft spoken and humble if he were.” Yes, those were my thoughts…like I said, I am a recovering pharisee. After having spent even more time with him, I have realized that this is how healed people should act! When someone is truly restored, they operate in their gifts as they should! How should he of acted? In hind sight, I can say that if Ted came in quiet and unassuming I would have responded with the pharisaical, “That’s more like it.” But that’s not who he is! He is restored back to the gifts that God has given him and that’s the way he should be!
This week at the Grace Initiative was life changing, it revealed in me that inner pharisee that wants to jump back to the law when I think that someone deserve justice. BUT we don’t live under the law!! We live under the new covenant that says we are no longer subject to the law, but now live by Grace.
As a guy who grew up in church, I have been to hundreds of conferences, meetings, revivals, and seminars. I can honestly say I have never been to such an incredible life changing event such as the Grace Initiative.
I will tell more of my growing friendship with Ted as this blog continues. But for today, I want you all to know that this recovering pharisee is learning to receive grace, and just as important, to extend grace to those I believe deserve it least of all! And yes, Ted Haggard is my friend!