The Outcast

Posted: September 4, 2010 in Commentary, For pastors

I took a walk on a public path near to where I live; it is a delight to horsemen, ladies with strollers, rollerbladers, and all sorts of diverse people. People ride their bikes, stroll, or have picnics there. There are wild berries to be found (if you know where to look), water fountains, and flowers that are both cultivated and wild. Scout troops maintain the cultivated flower beds. If the breeze is right the smell is intoxicating.

…. I found a man seeking solace there, battered by circumstance; one would not overstate the case to say that, metaphorically, his guts were hanging out. His wife had left and had an affair with a man who was “more spiritual” than he was; and moreover it was one that she had planned and executed in advance, even telling some members of her bitch session — excuse me, fellowship circle — about her plans. Said man found himself an outcast in his own fellowship when this became public; for he was thought “diseased” in some way; he had been accused of all sorts of mis-deeds in a public fashion. His wife thought to bolster her case for infidelity by spreading tales. It so happened he had met other believers on his walk. One of them was quick with a “God Bless” and a happy smile and hurried along; he didn’t really want to pry. It was none of his business, and his own wife was in the bitch session. Excuse me; prayer meeting. Another man — I tell you, this is a popular public walkway in the summertime — came along, this one a pastor. It so happens that this pastor had taken in the adulterous wife and put her on his music ministry, since he needed someone who could play the piano. He stopped to commiserate with the man, and told him to make sure he kept himself connected to people, and explained that he thought it better for the adulterous wife to be in church, at least, rather than out in the world, doing worldly things. Or something like that. Anyway I came upon him after all these strange visitations; and he was still trying to make heads or tails of his situation. The normal Christian universe had become inverted; for things were happening that defined explanation. He even had a Christian marriage counselor from his fellowship — she had a cutesy Holy Spirit dove on her business card — decline to address his wife’s infidelity in a joint counseling session. It would have been “unethical” since the wife did not wish to talk about this; it would have been wrong from the standpoint of her professional credential and the canons of the counselor’s profession to press a matter against a client’s desires.

However, he had met this fellow a few weeks prior – we’ll call him Bob (since that was his name) who had had suchlike things happen to him as well, and also had found disfavor in his local fellowship. It’s so obviously the man’s fault, right? Anyway Bob had committed to pray for him and made himself available. Really available for the all the struggles of a newly divorced man. It was interesting that Bob’s help was all under the radar, since the Pastor at Bob’s church had read a bestselling book in which was revealed (!) that all marriage failures are the fault of the man. But Bob stood by his fellow believer. No fees, no condemnation; rebuke when it was called for, and prayer for and fealty towards his injured brother in the Lord. He made a point of checking up on him from time to time; even feeding him a sandwich once…..

….And then I woke up; I had been zonked out. It had been all a dream.. The exertions of my exercise, the warmth of the day, the smell of the flowers.. it all caught up with me. Of course, it had to be a dream. Such things don’t happen in real life.. do they?


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