Much of last week’s national news focused on an Atlanta GA. pastor who was accused of sexual improprieties by four different young men. While all four stories were similar, detailed, and convincing, Pastor Eddie Long firmly denies the accusations.
Law suits have been filed, attorneys have been procured, clergy who have fallen in the past have come forward to give “expert” advice to the public, and talk show host are salivating.
Where things will land for this pastor of 25,000 people remains to be seen. But one thing is for sure, the church of Jesus Christ has taken another hit.
With what seems to be regular announcements of new scandals and salacious involvements of church leaders and parishioners alike, one can’t help but feel for the unbelieving person who only knows to evaluate the concept of God and Christianity by what he or she sees in the church today. Thus, the disregard and lack of respect for God’s house and its leaders is pervasive and contagious. From an outsider’s point of view, it must be confusing and offensive. A group of religious people who promote and argue for a standard of morality that they themselves can’t figure out how to live.
In a recent sermon I mentioned the need to take a second look at the biblical concept of judging one another. I encouraged the congregation to pursue judgment in relationships (people loving one another enough to tell each other the truth in gentleness and care) rather than run from it. Simply put, all of us need to be in transparent relationships with other Christians who will hold us accountable while we do the same for them. We need to have people in our lives who we will give permission to go beyond the normal greetings and cordialities of life and ask us personal questions about our devotional lives, weaknesses, struggles, and victories. We all need to be a part of a small group that meets regularly, prays fervently, encourages faithfully, holds one another accountable respectfully, and celebrates each others’ victories passionately. Christianity was not designed to be a private matter, only.
For the next few weeks I want to write about the church that we see in America today, and compare it to what we see in the New Testament. As we compare the two, my prayer is that we will be able to make adjustments together in the journey of becoming more and more like Christ. The Apostle Paul, writing to the church of Philippi said it like this: But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. 8What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. 10I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Philippians 3:7-11
Pray for the church in Atlanta. And pray for those who are stumbling and struggling regarding God and His love for them because of the failures of God’s people.
Laboring With You,