"You have to work hard to offend Christians. By nature, Christians are the most forgiving, understanding, and thoughtful group of people I've ever dealt with. They never assume the worst. They appreciate the importance of having different perspectives. They're slow to anger, quick to forgive, and almost never make rash judgments or act in anything less than a spirit of total love . . . No, wait--I'm thinking of Labrador retrievers!" David Learn, 1998

Monday, December 19, 2011

Grace under Siege 28: Bear

     At the kangaroo court, the elders announced the kind of wrath they were wreaking on the man I call Bear had not been done often in our church. We would venture to say it has NEVER been done in our church. What had Bear done that was so scandalous?
     Two months ago emails were flying thick and fast. We had sent some of the first. We received a few, others we only heard about. Two anonymous senders signed themselves only "Average Joe" and "Crusader Wabbit." We had no idea who they were.
     On October 9, Bear mailed out "Shedding Light on the Darkness" (Oct. 9), blasting the secrecy and deception of the elders. It was bristling with attachments: firsthand accounts of verbal abuse on the part of the elders against members who had chosen to leave the uncomfortable environment of the church. 
     Bear is a former chairman of the Executive Board of Elders, the man who, when one of his successors ordered every elder to present a decision to the congregation as "unanimous," told him, "It wasn't unanimous and I won't lie for you. I quit."
     Bear is a big, lovable, brusque, shoot-from-the-hip guy with a black belt. His in-depth study of Scripture contributes to the teaching and discussions in our Agape Bible class at church and his perceptive wit keeps Agape from getting too serious. He has a deep sense of justice which may be why he chose to become an attorney and is aggressively protective of God's word and His people. And you don't want to mess with anyone or anything he has chosen to protect.
     The day before my first husband went in for brain surgery, he called to have Bear update his will and trust. Bear brought the papers to our house in person that night for him to sign. He told my husband, "Don't worry about Jessica. If anything happens, I'll see she is taken care of." 
     Eighteen months later, when my husband passed on, I went to Bear's office and he was faithful to his word. He explained everything, walked me through the red tape. Although he must be a bit behind me in age, his protection felt fatherly. After walking me from his huge desk to his office door with his hand on my shoulder, he gave me a little kiss on the top of my head (you will recall I am only five feet tall) and assured me again that he would keep his promise to take care of me. 
     And he has.

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