That there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.—1 Corinthians 12:25-27 (ESV)
At some point along here, I’ve probably mentioned at least one pastor you’re familiar with… maybe even one that you listen to his teaching from time to time.
News flash: they’re all sinners.
Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of things people have passed along through Twitter or blogs about one or more of these “celebrity pastors”. I’m not going to repeat the gossip here, and I encourage you not to seek it out as well.
Some of the “news” items that I’ve seen brought up happened years ago, and yet people still dredge it up.
Where is the grace that follows repentance?
Better yet… how do we appear as representatives for Christ to a world that sees us as bickering with our brothers, intolerant of sinners, hypocritical in our words and deeds, and unwilling to freely dispense grace to those who don’t know Jesus as their savior?
All these men have done great things for God. They’ve pastored churches, taught thousands, and probably have had to deal with more burdens in just their own church (let alone their home and families) than you or I probably will bear in our lifetimes.
But yet, they’ve all sinned, and because of their notoriety, it seems some are unwilling to be mindful about not speaking when they don’t know the facts and get their information off Christian “gossip rag” sites. Some may feel that the anonymity of the internet gives them license to complain about out-of-state church leaders who they will never meet and whose congregations they have labeled as “cults” that they will never serve in.
There was a very notorious sinner in the New Testament. His name was Paul. I’m pretty sure that many people knew back then who he was as Saul, because he was so zealous about killing so many Christians.
Likewise, I’m pretty sure that he was a celebrity for the time as Paul, because he was so zealous about planting churches and preaching the word of God wherever he went.
Did people visit with Paul while he was in jail to tell him what a murderer he had been all those years before? Before Paul died as a martyr, did people cry out in the streets about his butchery of the young church? No, in fact, it was acknowledged that his defense of Christ was what put Paul in jail, not what he had done as Saul.
Dogs often chase their tails out of boredom. If we’re too involved with controversies and dirty laundry at other churches, maybe that is a sign that we are not doing enough work to bring Jesus’ kingdom here.
When dogs catch their tails and bite them, it hurts, and sometimes they continue to bite their tails until it leads to injury. In the same way, maybe some are right about the facts of a particular church scandal or sin, but when a brother or sister loses a struggle against sin, we all lose.
I pray that we as a church stop chasing and biting our tails, stop indulging others in gossip, and stop hiding behind the computer screens and get out into the mission fields of our own lives. There is a place to stand up for the defense of the Gospel and against false teachers, but when we attack brothers and sisters through gossip and a general lack of forgiveness, we weaken them for an enemy who is much more cunning.