It has been a rollercoaster month for many in the Christian community with the news of the abuse within the Southern Baptist Convention—along with the firing of a well-known evangelical leader whom I have admired for many years. It makes a person wonder, “What is going on in the church and how does the world perceive it?” As I am trying to process all of this, and as it grieves my heart that all of this has been going on for some time, I must readjust my thinking and focus on what really matters.
Psalm 118:8 tells us, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.” A phrase that has stayed with me is found in 1 Corinthians 10:13 which says, “But God is faithful.” Man will fail you every time, but God is incapable of failing. He is the personification of faithfulness!
As believers in Jesus Christ, we know these truths because we are familiar with his word. However, the question I am asking myself is, How do I tell those who are not part of the church that this is not normal behavior; that it is not a blanket statement for all who identify with Christ? Are they beginning to group evangelicals with Catholic priests who have abused their victims for years?
Many of those who are changing channels on the television are already turned off by the ostentatious behavior of some who call themselves “pastors.” I get it! As a pastor myself, I always want to be careful that I conduct myself in a way that points to the blessings of God, not any success I may have thought I had on my own. I certainly do not want to come across as being attached to this temporal world when eternity in heaven awaits.
I am drawn to the faithfulness of God because it is inherent to his divine character. The more I think of the unfaithfulness of mankind and the propensity toward chasing emptiness at the expense of reputation, God’s faithfulness is magnified and his mercy is more apparent. As a child, I remember singing a simple, yet profound truth set to a clever melody: “God can do anything, anything, anything; God can do anything but fail.”
Denominations are led by flawed humans, just as companies are susceptible to failure. Pastors are people who deal with pressures much greater than most people know, and while that is not an excuse for failure, it does give us an explanation as to why failure happens.
Perhaps these events will help us to be introspective and alert. We can look within to make sure we are not living in secret sin, because we know that the light will one day expose the darkness. If we are living with godly character and integrity, we must be aware of the danger of falling into sin and making a mess of our lives. We can also use this opportunity to look up—to remember that the church was not made by men, rather it was instituted by Jesus Christ himself who is the chief Cornerstone. Matthew 16:18 tells us that even the gates of hell cannot prevail against the church, but as for humanity, we are sometimes duped into handing the reins over to the enemy.
If you have friends or family who are doubting the validity of the church and the integrity of such an institution, try to change their focus by pointing to a faithful, eternal God, not flawed, mortal men. I will continue holding on to these three words as I see what will become of organizations and individuals through all of these chaotic times: “God is faithful.”