elephant in the room

Posted: August 24th, 2009 | Filed under: God, life | Tags: | 9 Comments »

The other day I heard a preacher illustrate a point in his sermon by bringing up the past failure of another popular preacher. His message needed to be heard and his point was valid. However, he never followed the damning comment up with the torrent of grace he’s experienced since the tragedy. This pastor’s voice is a tool that God uses. However, the minute he uses his mouth to speak of an instance, of which God has no recollection, is the very moment that God’s words are removed.

If a paralyzed man is healed, but is never allowed to walk, then he is still paralyzed. If a woman never leaves her home because she’s afraid of being victimized again, then she is still her attacker’s victim. If the sin is forgiven, but you still treat him like a sinner, then sin still wins.

If we are really in a spiritual battle, as I believe we are, then the stories of men and women of God being wounded by the enemy will not end. If you’re fighting, then you will get hurt. The front line is the most dangerous place to be and those who are not there should be the nurses and doctors dragging them into the tent and nursing them back to health. The enemy is trying to sabotage us and turn us on each other and it’s working. Christians are supposed to be to the body of Christ, what white blood cells are to the physical body.

We are fighting a battle of which we have very limited perspective. We mistakenly make decisions based on what we can see, feel and touch. We forget that the battle is not of flesh and blood. It’s the sin that you must fight against, not the man. It’s the sin that must be cut out. If you surgically remove the flesh and blood from the sin, the sin remains. If you remove the sin, the man remains.

If you really understood the role that sin plays in the fight, you would know that sin is the enemy, not the sinner. A man got cocky and left himself vulnerable. The enemy took aim and hit a bulls eye. That is not where the enemy wins. Where the enemy makes his score is in the place where the sin of his target rivets through the church and makes people doubt. It’s your faith in the implication of sin that gives sin its power. You can remove the man, but his sin is still there. It is still there because you removed the man. Sin gets it’s life from the space in the empty seat. Sin is the elephant in the room.  If sin is witnessed, then grace must be witnessed also. Otherwise, grace does not exist to those watching.

If you believe that Christians don’t sin, then you separate the man from the cross when he does. If Christians don’t sin, then he must not have been a Christian. If he was not a Christian, then all of the flowers he planted in his life are marked and dug up. If he was not a Christian, but said he was, then you cannot believe him when he says he has been forgiven. Every seed the man plants for the remainder of his life must be tainted. In order to avoid the risk of any man forgetting, there is an army of properly accredited people who will remind them.

Who wants a man to be separated from the cross? Who wants a Christian artist’s songs of praise removed from the shelves or an anointed pastor’s words removed from his flock? Who wants an entire world to see that if you fall, you can’t get back up?

Don’t use the platform that you have and the title you earned to be a hired hand for the enemy. Be careful with your gift. If you have to use the failure of another to make an illustration, make sure it illustrates the finished work of Jesus.


9 Comments on “elephant in the room”

  1. 1 Kelly Langner Sauer said at 1:52 am on August 24th, 2009:

    However, the minute he uses his mouth to speak of an instance, of which God has no recollection, is the very moment that God’s words are removed.

    If you have to use the failure of another to make an illustration, make sure it illustrates the finished work of Jesus.

    Serena, I'm sitting here, open-mouthed over this post. I know your story; I read some over on "Like A Warm Cup of Coffee" last week. I am absolutely amazed at the perspective you offer here. Amazed at your grasp of grace, your unabashed willingness to live (and expect others to live) in light of what Jesus accomplished at the Cross.

    It is Him, I know. Wow. Thank you.

  2. 2 Sarah Mae said at 3:19 am on August 24th, 2009:

    Serena, your words are filled with the spirit of grace – thank you for reminding me.

  3. 3 Melissa Multitasking said at 3:34 am on August 24th, 2009:

    I needed this today! Thank you for your insight and boldness.

  4. 4 Sisterlisa said at 3:40 am on August 24th, 2009:

    Excellent article Serena. Too many times I've seen those wolves use illustrations of people currently suffering, many times they're sitting in the same room under that 'sermon'.

  5. 5 Traylor Lovvorn said at 4:51 am on August 24th, 2009:


    I am in the process of writing a blog post about John 21 where Jesus restores Peter that contrasts the way Jesus dealt with sinners and the way most churches deal with sinners. I was just looking over my notes this morning and then found your post. Thanks for the timely reminder that our enemy is not fellow strugglers.

    I have found that so often judgementalism is present because at our core we struggle to believe that the Gospel is a scandal. Passing judgement on someone else's sin allows me to feel better by comparison. The more I can feel like I'm a pretty decent guy, the less scandalous the Gospel is. The more I see my desperate need for Christ and the more I am honest with my struggle with sin, the more amazing grace becomes. For so many years, grace was not amazing to me because I thought God had pretty good taste for saving me and that He was super glad that I was on His team.

    Thank you for your fresh words of grace. May the church embrace them and bring the true message of the scandalous Gospel to a world desperately in need of it.

    A Fellow Ragamuffin,


  6. 6 Debbi said at 5:24 am on August 24th, 2009:

    "…make sure it illustrates the finished work of Jesus." After all, it is all about Him. What a shame to belittle the work of Christ in anyway…espescially by neglecting to praise him for his grace. I wonder how many people listen to sermons and already know they have blown it but are in torment wondering…"now what?" Needing to hear "Jesus!"

  7. 7 Bianca said at 5:30 am on August 24th, 2009:

    I'm slack-jawed and convicted.

    Seriously, friend, no amount of ministry training can prepare us for the grace needed when people sin. Your words pierced, but did not puncture. Thank you 🙂

  8. 8 mandie said at 7:18 am on August 24th, 2009:

    There such a truth to this, Serena. Thanks for the reminder to have grace and respect.

  9. 9 Sandee said at 9:29 am on August 24th, 2009:

    So true….I have heard this too. 🙁 Thinking I can I share this with those I have heard it from


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