When the Jack Schaap story first broke, we all had initial reactions. For me it was a feeling of great sadness. Over the past few days I have contemplated a few things.
First, this could be you. Yes, it could. While it could be legitimately argued that poor theology, abused polity, and a distorted philosophy of ministry set the stage for this kind of tragedy, there is more to it, and if we don’t see “the more to it” then we are all in trouble. “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall” (Corinthians 10:12). “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). We must face the fact that every man has the same rotten flesh, lives in the same fallen world, and has the same common enemy (Satan) who is out to destroy. We should beware, lest in our criticism and evaluation we fail to see our own vulnerability.
Second, it is more hurtful than we realize. There is no getting around it. It is difficult to comprehend how much carnage has been brought about by one man’s sin. The destruction is so widespread and the pain so deep. People’s lives are shattered, families ripped apart, innocent children victimized, the name of Christ dragged through the mud, and now not a few will turn from God in disillusionment and anger. It is lose-lose. Everyone loses—the victims, the families, the perpetrator, the cause of Christ, and anyone who calls himself a “Christian.” It is initially so hopeless. We hear again the desperate cries of the psalmist, “My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?” (Psalm 6:3).
Finally, there is hope. It will be hard for a lot of people to get to the place of hope, but it is true. The good news is that our sovereign God still reigns supreme. He is all powerful, all wise, and good in all that He does. He will bring all things to justice and reconciliation through the work of His Son, the Lord Jesus, to the praise of His glorious grace. He is working toward eternity where all of us will have the opportunity to live with Him in peace and joy forever. That is the truth. That is the reality. But, for so many people it will be a struggle to believe this. Yet… “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:36-39).
It is time to bow down in brokenness and humility and cry out for His grace. All of us.