Pregnant? Someone’s got little Estelle pregnant? No! Who would have thought it?”
The college/career Bible study had just ended with the hymn, “Jesus the Very Thought of Thee.” Now it was time to socialize.
“She’s really wrecked her Christian testimony,” said Lex Pharis. “It sure won’t help our Bible study group either!”
Jean van Dort expressed her opinion: “I suspect she was never really saved. All that makeup and jewelry! And the trashy TV shows she watches. And now this! I wonder if she will get an abortion?”
Gracie Chrestienne, the petite Canadian from Montreal responded, “Of course not! She’s made a big mistake, but she’d never take a human life–certainly not her own unborn baby!”
“Personally, I do think Estelle was saved” put in Harmen Falle.” “But this kind of fall shows she lost it. I know most of you here hold that `once-saved-always-saved’ stuff, but this just shows the fallacy of your view.”
“Don’t be silly, Harmen!” said Ian Clarke, a seminary student. “A real Christian can have a big fall. That doesn’t `unsave her,’ for Pete’s sake!”
“Or,” put in Gracie, “if I may say it reverently, for Christ’s sake.”
There was a slight, embarrassed pause in the discussion.
Lex Pharis said, “I think she ought to be booted out of our group. Even if she’s repentant and does what her church counsels, she still will damage our reputation.”
“People don’t care about these things that much nowadays. Anything goes!” So said Bob Welt.
“Well, we care! said Lex.
Gracie spoke up quietly but firmly: “Do any of you ever think about the words when we sing those grand Christian songs and hymns? Did you notice the third stanza of that last hymn?” Taking the hymnal she read from #136:
“`To those who fall how kind Thou art . . .’ Aren’t we supposed to be kind, too, like Jesus? When people fell into sin He was kind and forgiving.”
“How about when He blasted the Pharisees?” asked Lex.
“They were hypocrites. They weren’t `contrite’ or `meek’ as the hymn says.”
“I’m not sure Estelle is contrite,” said Jeanne, “and I know she’s not meek!
“Well,” put in Vera Femme, “who’s the father? He’s more than half to blame! It’s the same old story as in John 8. A man gets a woman in trouble and she gets blamed and he goes scot-free.”
“But our Lord forgave her for her immorality,” Gracie said, “and told her to go and sin no more.”
“That text isn’t even authentic,” Al Lande said vehemently. Al was also a seminary student. “The best manuscripts don’t even contain it.”
“But,” countered Ian, “there are 900 Greek manuscripts of John that do contain it!”
“I read in the Scofield Bible,” said Gracie, trying to support Ian, whom she liked a lot, “that Augustine blamed the omission of that story from many early manuscripts on legalists who were afraid that free and gracious forgiveness without penance or other promise of change would foster immorality.”
“That’s always a real danger,” said Lex Pharis, frowning. Jeanne van Dort nodded in agreement.
At that point there was a clearing of someone’s throat from the open doorway at the back of the classroom where the Bible study met. It was old Mr. Lundgren, the school janitor.
“You were all talking so loud I couldn’t help but hear–I wasn’t trying to eavesdrop; that would have been rude. Personally, I’ve always found your friend Estelle very courteous and friendly to me, even though she’s from a rich family and I’m an immigrant without much education. Could I say a few words about all this?”
“Sure,” said several of the well-dressed young people.
“I heard a message years ago up Chicago way called `Pouncers or Pray-ers.”‘
“What a bizarre title,” said Jeanne.
“Ja. The preacher said that a scandal, or a moral fall, among believers gives us an opportunity to find out our own spiritual state–he used the word diagnostic, like an M.D.”
“What did he mean?” asked Ian.
“Well, some people are secretly pleased when a popular, rich, talented, or famous Christian falls–though they would never admit it in a million years, of course. But the way they pounce like a panther when the news arrives is very revealing!”
“Oh, that’s `the Pouncers’!”
“Ja, sure. But the right Christian response is to pray for the erring one, not to gossip. Miss Estelle needs your forgiveness and prayers now more than ever if she’s going to get back on track spiritually.”
Gracie suggested, “Maybe we could have a short time of prayer for her–and the fellow, whom we all probably have at least met–right now.”
A couple of the young people agreed. Lex, Harmen, and Jeanne started to file out, saying they had commitments they had to attend to. In leaving Al grumbled, “Who is he to preach to us? He doesn’t even have a high school diploma!”
Gracie thought–but didn’t verbalize–“To those who fall how kind Thou art . . .”
Ian said, “Let’s pray. We all need it. Each one of us is capable of falling into major sin if we aren’t careful. . . Heavenly Father, we come to You today to intercede for our sister in Christ, Estelle Adams . . . ”
Gracie was thinking: “I’m so glad Ian is a pray-er and not a pouncer!”