The other day we drove past a bunch of flowers set up in memorial by a light post at an intersection. One of our kids remarked that someone had died there. I remember seeing a show, but I forget where, that indicated that such displays are actually illegal. They break some city bylaw or other, but many times officials are lenient and allow the memorials to remain, at least for a time.
I am glad they do. Not only is it honoring to those who have lost their lives, for me as a driver it is a stark reminder to be careful. Such displays serve as a sign warning of the dangers inherent in driving. Undoubtedly there are some on whom the impact of the memorial is lost. Self- assured and perhaps cocky, they are convinced that such a tragedy won't happen to them. They put their faith in their ability to drive perhaps thinking that they are able to avoid situations that others haven't.
The Christian life is not without its own tragic and sobering signposts. It occurred to me that people's responses to Christian leaders who "fall" as a result of some public sin are much like people's reactions to memorials set up along the roadway. Either it is a sober reminder of the dangers that are inherent in a sinful world and they set their resolve to be careful, or they look down on those Christians as being weak, confident that such tragedy won’t happen to them. There are those as well who approach such tragedies with indifference.
Like roadway memorials, the fall of a Christian (leader or not) should shake us to the core. If we think we stand, we need to take heed lest we too fall. The fact that these temptations are common to man is a comfort that we are facing what many others have also faced, but it is also a warning. Such temptations are common so watch out and take heed (1 Cor. 10:12-13).
Of course, God doesn't allow us to be tempted beyond our ability to resist. Rather, out of his faithfulness he provides a way of escape (1 Cor. 10:13). Our ability to resist isn't reliant solely (and probably not much) on our willpower, but on how we respond to God's faithfulness. Do we desire a way out? Is the alternative of obedience to God sufficiently motivating for us? In essence do we love God and trust his faithful promises more than the immediate gratification of sin?
The next time you see a Christian brother or sister fall because of their sin, read it for the sign it is. Think of that brother or sister with sorrow, recognizing the evils of your own heart and flee to God begging him for more of his transforming work in your heart, his grace, and his keeping power.