Perhaps the greatest paradox in Christianity is the realization that the Lord sovereignly chose to use imperfect people to preach a perfect gospel and lead people to a saving knowledge of the one true perfect God. Besides the one flawless example of Jesus, every man and woman charged with speaking or acting on behalf of God throughout history has been flawed. Abraham was a chronic liar. David couldn’t keep his zipper up. Moses needed anger management. Jeremiah could use some Prozac. An arrogant Peter sounded a lot like Donald Trump. Paul was quick to write people off at times. Despite the flaws and failures, the Lord did amazing things through them and so many others because the anointing is God on flesh doing what flesh can’t do.
Though a preacher of righteousness and recipient of the revelation to build a vessel to rescue God’s creation and his own family before the flood, Noah was found in a compromising position after partaking of wine from the grapes he grew after the great flood waters receded. The behavior of his sons upon the discovery of their naked and drunk father reflects two contrasting attitudes found readily in the Church today.
In Genesis 9, Ham discovered his father’s nakedness and couldn’t wait to tell his brothers. When Ham’s brothers, Shem and Japheth were told they placed a blanket between them and walked backwards into the tent to cover their father’s shame making sure they did not so much as turn their head in the direction of Noah. Notice the different reaction when the humanity of the preacher was discovered and observed. Ham saw Noah’s humanity and broadcasted that humanity to others. Shem and Japheth saw the same humanity and chose instead to cover the humanity because “love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
So that I am not misunderstood here, Christians and particularly Christian leaders must have accountability in their lives. But there is a difference between accountability to specific brothers and sisters who, in keeping with Paul’s command, restore the fallen and flawed with gentleness (Galatians 6:1) and others who observe the humanity and work to expose or broadcast the error with no heart for the restoration of the fallen. Why is it we all want cover for ourselves and exposure for others?
There seems to be an unwritten rule some cynical believers follow that says if they witness the humanity of a Christian leader they do not have to respond in mercy, respect, or discretion, and they no longer have to receive from that leader. That “Ham” spirit, as in the days of Noah who was personally responsible for saving representatives of all of God’s created life on earth, forgets and diminishes the contribution that leader has had in his or her life and the lives of others choosing to focus instead on the imperfection of the leader.
Of course when Noah found out from Shem and Japheth what Ham had done (and understand emphatically here that just like Shem and Japheth, a godly believer does not hold confidences against the leader, but good or bad, keeps the leader informed) he was of course disappointed and prophesied a very different future for Ham in comparison to his brothers. A simple reading of this story in Genesis reveals a powerful truth that all Christians can and should learn from. The Hams in the body of Christ witness leadership humanity, broadcast that humanity to others, and end up cursed or empowered to fail. In contrast, the Shems and Japheths in the Church are not blind to leadership imperfections, but in observing the humanity, choose to cover it with a garment of love and mercy and end up receiving the blessing or the empowerment to succeed.
If we spend any time around Christians and Christian leaders, we will observe imperfections, flaws, and their humanity (and they will observe our humanity). Make a quality decision to be a blessed Shem or Japheth in the Church who sees, covers, and works to restore the humanity of others rather than a cursed Ham who sees, exposes, and cares little about restoration. Remember that without love and mercy for others when they fail, we become more susceptible to temptation and failure ourselves (Galatians 6:1). Without grace for others, we set ourselves up to reap the same when our humanity is observed (and sooner or later our humanity too will come out).