He is Just the Nicest Man I’ve Ever Met — Beware the Abuser’s Charm
UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.
The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them to judgment, but the sins of others appear later. So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden. (1 Timothy 5:24-25)
One of the important things we do here at ACFJ is to keep saying certain fundamentals over and over. Repetition is vital for all of us, and that is exactly what I am doing in this post.
Recently I was talking to someone who has regular contact with an abuser. I do not know the person I was speaking with well at all, but I do know the abuser through and through. This lady said to me, “Isn’t he just the nicest person you have ever met?” I did not respond. People like this never listen anyway.
Most all of us can look back into the past and think of a time when we met a person who seemed “like the nicest person” you could ever ask for. The finest example of a Christian. We just knew it was so.
But it wasn’t.
The Apostle Paul wrote to the young pastor Timothy to be on guard. He said that there are people whose sins are right out there and easy to see. We get that part. What we don’t get hold of is the second category Paul warned of — “the sins of others appear later.” And Paul told Timothy this right after he said —
Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, nor take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure. (1 Timothy 5:22)
As I look back on my own life, I realize that I used to be way, way too trusting. Especially when it came to meeting people who claimed to be Christians. Oh, I understood and firmly believed that no one could be a Christian and yet live an unchanged life, habitually and characteristically walking in sin as they always had. But what I did not understand was that second category. Those evil ones whose sins “appear later.” And I certainly did not understand that there are many of these kind working their abusive quest for power and control in virtually every single local church.
As we grow in wisdom, this naivete changes. We understand that someone can appear strikingly “holy” and yet be incredibly evil. But as we grow in the Lord, we put away childish things. Childhood is a dangerous state to remain in.
So slow down. When you meet someone who seems soooo “Christian” and sooooo “warm” and “kind,” remind yourself that the verdict is still out on what they really are. Don’t let yourself get swept off your feet by someone’s charm, no matter how good it might feel to do so. If you permit yourself to be “charmed” and come under their spell, it is highly unlikely that anyone is going to be able to warn you, and you will have to learn the hard, hard way as most all of us have had to. In the same way as time will show the genuineness of a real Christian’s heart, so, in time, the wicked deceptive person will be revealed for what they really are.