There is much to lament in the church today. While God’s commands remain steadfast and true, we have looked away long enough to have been conformed to the world. This ought to be anathema.
In moments of honesty, we must confess we have become a generation of Christians far from God. We have strayed.
But that’s not the end.
Last Thursday reminded me—and many others—of that. Over 750 people attended our Reflections GC2 Summit on Responding to Sexual Harassment, Abuse, and Violence. Nearly 50 livestream sites and hundreds of individuals participated with us remotely.
It was a good, hard day. The admonitions of all of our speakers, including Max Lucado, Beth Moore, Christine Caine, York Moore, Laurel Bunker, Lindsay Olesberg, Kelly Rosati, Nancy Beach, Eugene Cho, and others were a powerful reminder of how far we slipped and how far we have to go. You can read a good recap of the day here.
But, really, what breaks me is this: all of the speakers weaved in this truism—God hears and heals. He HEARS the cries of all, and wants to HEAL the pain of all. No amount of work on our end, without the power of the Holy Spirit, is sufficient for the healing that must take place. As a survivor myself, I have discovered this to be so very true in my own journey to healing as well.
Every survivor who spoke did so with the proverbial finger pointed upwards. It is God divinely working through his word, his people, and his Spirit to straighten what is out of joint, to care for the flickering wick.
But how is that reflected in us, his people?
Let me share just a few thoughts as I reflect on the summit, and they revolve around one word and one concept: heroes—those with great courage that compel us to do more and do better.
First, the true heroes are all those who bear the scars of pain and break their silence.
I am immensely grateful to both Max Lucado and Kelli Rosati for breaking their silence yesterday. And I am convicted that for every Max there are 10 more stories of heartbreak and for every Kelli there are 20 more stories of silence. Those who have endured violence at the hands of others—whether verbal, physical, or psychological—hold a special place in God’s heart. The reminder in Matthew 20 that “the last shall be first and the first last” bears heavily on me today.
It takes tremendous courage to keep pressing forward when you have been beaten down. I am amazed by you.
To all those who have been hurt at the hands of others and yet keep moving forward, we honor you. To God and to us, you are a hero.
Second, the true heroes are those who take the long hard journey to walk with those who have suffered.
It’s easy to tweet out 140 or however many characters. It’s easy to mutter “I’m sorry” to those who have been wounded. What isn’t easy is sacrificially walking with others as long as they need a friend. There’s a word for this—discipleship—and we are all called to do it. Christ’s love must compel us to pick up the crosses of those in our care (whether congregants, family, friends, or anyone else) and walk the road with those who need us.
It takes tremendous courage to love another when is costs you something. I am amazed by all those walking the long and broken road with those who have been wounded.
To all those who have been journeying with those who have been hurt, we honor you. To God and to us, you are a hero.
Finally, the true heroes are those in positions of leadership who will say, “No more. Not under our watch.”
This is no easy task and involves nothing less than the servant leadership Christ compels us to display. Jesus’ act of washing the feet of his disciples isn’t just a good story that lends itself to wonderful artistic renditions in various forms. It’s our guide and is the very imagery we must always have in our mind’s eye as leaders in Christ’s church.
Saying “no more” requires humility, accountability, integrity, and the foregoing of all rights of power that will corrupt or silence. The power that all leaders in the church are called to hold models the power of God, which is founded in love for all.
It takes tremendous courage to be the leader Christ calls you to be. I am amazed by all those who deny the fame and attention of others for the sake of our true mission.
To all leaders who cling to a servant leadership that honors and cares for the hurt and wounded above all else, we honor you. To God and to us, you are a hero.
It is my dream that tomorrow will bring a day when #metoonomore and #churchtoonomore become our reality. This will not be without lots of spiritual warfare and push back and hard conversations. It won’t happen without continual tears and repentance and a daily infusion of God’s Spirit.
But here’s the thing: we have heroes among us. Lots of them. Those who have great courage to break the silence when they are told to be quiet; those who put down the things of this world to gain something far greater; those who take seriously Christ’s call to care for his flock.
Yes, there is a lot to lament in the church right now. But today I honor these heroes. And I ask tomorrow’s heroes: Is today the day? Is today that day when we can finally do as Jesus commands and lay down all we have for the sake of this world that he loves?
I think it can be if we allow ourselves to become the heroes God is asking us to be.
Laurie Nichols, a survivor herself, is the Director of Communications and Marketing at the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College. She was an organizer of the GC2 Summit.