Post from Pastor Tim Dillmuth – Truth be told, I’d much rather be cleaning a bathroom or delivering a Thanksgiving food basket than reigning. Reigning could certainly encompass the above activities, but the practical work of reigning is looking very different for me this month.
You see, a little less than two years ago, I experienced a defining moment of my life as I was convicted of “failure to report child abuse”–read here for all the details.
I always like to point to the fact that my wife and I learned a great deal through this situation, and God used those circumstances to draw us much closer to him. What I don’t like to point out, is how I still have unresolved feelings of anger towards the press pertaining to how they wrote about that case.
This all came to a head last week, when one local newspaper mistakenly referred to me as a child molester in a front page article written about a candidate for county attorney. It was simply a careless error on the part of the newspaper, certainly not a grand conspiracy to destroy my reputation. Realizing their error, they printed a small retraction–on page 18–and fixed the online version by removing my name from the article.
So . . . what now? How should I respond, if at all? Ultimately, how do I reign in this situation? Should I simply do nothing and internalize my feelings? Should I pursue legal action against the paper, as so many friends and family, worried for me and angry at the paper’s error, have urged?
Interestingly enough, Rev. Foley wrote his last blog post before he knew about the latest developments of my situation. And yet, the example of Francis of Assisi and how he handled disparaging comments have enabled me to think more deeply about my own situation.
The Apostle Paul also acted in a similar manner to that of Francis of Assisi. Paul was always quick to point out that he blasphemed the Lord and persecuted Christians. He even went as far as to say that he was the foremost of sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), and the least of all the apostles (1 Cor. 15:9)!
So for me to complain about the mistakes of the press would be to ignore the far more accurate reckoning of sins I must confess daily to my God, my wife, my children, and my accountability partners. These sins may never hit the front page, but that is not because they are not significant but rather precisely because the acts of wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy, and gluttony I commit are so unremarkable and frequent that no reporter would think they deserve mention. The newspaper listed the wrong sin but did not wrongly identify me as a sinner. For that identification no retraction is possible: I simply have no high ground to stand on before the Cross. The bottom line is, “that Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the foremost.”
I’m still working on my “reigning response” but I know that it must encompass contacting the paper and individuals related to the article–not to offer them my forgiveness from a
sanctimonious perch but rather to serve them as the embodiment of my forgiveness. I plan to write a letter to the editor in which, taking my cue from Francis of Assisi, I do not seek to exonerate myself but rather to make even more clear the grace of God in which I live. Recognizing that transparency is a key piece of reigning, I’ll look forward to
sharing the letter–and further updates on this situation–with you as it all unfolds.