Hi. I’m in need of some feedback with regard to biblical love and the life of the church. I’m a deacon at a small church in Tokyo, Japan. A couple of months ago, our pastor was upset by something done by church members, and hasn’t come to our church (or any church for that matter) since. Though the church members did it meaning well, our pastor took it as a personal affront. Many agonizing conversations later, the leadership tried to create a roadmap for his return. In the end, however, he declared himself unable to continue, went to a mental clinic (which he referred to as “seeing a counselor”), claimed that he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in that first visit, and claims to have suicidal thoughts because of some harsh words that the leadership had for him.
I was very close to this pastor, and I would confidently say that I was his protege. However, problems had abounded between him and the leadership board. He had begun a side business in which he was seeing a degree of success, while many in the leadership believed his responsibilities to the church were taking a back seat. He was often seen as dodging responsibility and unapologetic about broken promises or obvious mistakes (like arriving late to service repeatedly). Even when confronted by older members of the church about these same issues, he shrugged them off and simply deflected the fire. Since November, I have witnessed the leadership imploring him to move towards reconciliation, mustering up the courage to speak to him about their hurts while risking being hurt even more by his words, and going out of their way to create a smooth return for him even though their consciences told them that certain injustices were going unaddressed.
My question is this. What does it mean to show love to a brother like this? What does that look like? Though I don’t doubt the pain he is going through, my sense of justice cries out when he is able to appeal to mental illness blame others for his hurt - especially after he DEMANDED to be restored to the church as pastor (after clearly declaring himself that he had quit) and CRITICIZED the leadership for moving too slowly. I don’t mean to be insensitive to those who have loved ones who do suffer from mental illness, or have taken their own life - but those in our church who have experience with depression and bipolar disorder have told us that any mental clinic in its right mind would not immediately diagnose a first-time patient with bipolar disorder. This pastor was my mentor and my friend; I know of RZIM because of him. But I have also seen his dishonesty, his hardness of heart, his inability to admit wrongdoing, his lack of interest in the real struggle of others, and his willingness to bend the truth for the sake of his own narrative. We are all sinners, I realize that. But to be perfectly honest, I have grown tired of taking this person seriously. What would be a biblical response to this situation? I realize that all the details and the context of this situation are not given here; however, any thoughts on this would be appreciated. Thank you.