To quote the first Mission Impossible (the best one in my opinion), “The list is in the open!”
That’s right; unless you have completely unplugged in the last couple of months, then you have heard about this website called "Ashley Madison" that caters to people who want to have an affair, and now hackers have exposed the names, email addresses, physical addresses, and amounts of money spent by its users.
This was a tragic and heartbreaking revelation to see not only the amount of people on the list but also to see the amount of ministry leaders on that list. Families are left in the wake of this revelation and many of them left with wounds that won’t be healed on this side of eternity.
But the congregations of these leaders are also left to try and heal as they learn to try and trust again. These wounds and consequences are the real results of sin and must be felt and dealt with. And from the outside, it can be really easy to point fingers at those who have fallen and either say or feel these words, “Oh wow! I didn’t think he would ever do something like that!”
But I had a good friend of mine growing up that would always tell me, “When you point a finger at someone else, you have three fingers pointing right back at you.” It was the Southern translation of the following text: “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye” (Matthew 7:5).
So here lies the tension I have felt in the general sentiment of people towards the Ashley Madison list: while what was done is in fact horrible and has deeply wounded families, apart from the grace of God, you and I are not any different. And we are always about ten feet from the edge of that moral failure cliff and could at any moment fall as well if we let our guard down (1 Corinthians 15:10).
I am not trying to downplay the sinfulness of the people on the Ashley Madison list. I am instead saying that many others are downplaying their own sinfulness.
It is unhelpful to see great acts of sin and think that we are somehow beyond that. Do you remember that guy who was a man after God’s own heart? That David guy who wrote most of the Psalms? That guy who is a hero of the Old Testament and a giant of the faith? Yeah, he was on the Old Testament version of the Ashley Madison list with the whole Bathsheba situation. But guess what? God still used him.
The grace of God is far greater than the greatest sin of the greatest sinner. No amount of money spent on Ashley Madison was greater than the price Christ paid on the cross. And if you weren’t on that list, take heed and know that you could have been had it not been for the grace of God in your life. And know that you are far closer to that list than you realize.
So fight for holiness and train yourself unto godliness. And may we remember that if you were on that list, that Jesus has done something that is worth calling his grace amazing “by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross” (Colossians 2:14).
Christ printed off the entire list of every name on Ashley Madison and then added some other names as well [“But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28)], and he nailed that list to the cross.
So may we stop pointing fingers and acting shocked as if we could never do something like that, because if you have ever lusted, then your name was on that list as well. So stop speaking in judgment and condescension and start singing in worship and confession:
My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!