Christianity and Biblical living have seemingly taken a huge blow today as a well-known “super church” announced the forcible departure of their pastor due to “a sin that has caused him to forfeit his right” to be the internationally-idolized figurehead of the movement. Yet again, I find my blog being driven by a current event. I apologize, but I felt this was too far-reaching to ignore.
Many years ago, I had my own “difficult” experience with the institution in question. This experience caused my family to depart from its ranks. Yes, I’m choosing an intentionally vague description of my personal experience. I truly believe that I would never be the person I am today without the experience/departure, my family would never have been as strong as we are, nor would I have the courage to simply rest in my belief system. I’m able to stand taller, live better, and dare more because of that experience… dare I say, in spite of that experience? The past is the past; I chose to focus on how I live today because it will affect my tomorrows.
This blog will not attack the institution in question, nor will it champion the cause of departure from the movement. I simply want to go on record about what I believe I can do in response to this tragic circumstance.
Salt and Light
Having lived in a foreign country–one that entirely rejects the beliefs of Christianity–I’ve come to realize what being a Christian means to me. It means making a difference. It means personifying the admission of the Apostle Paul in II Corinthians, “I will very gladly spend and be spent for you.” It means being able to give an answer when people ask you how they can persevere through their pain. It is an all-consuming, all-encompassing, daily pursuit of right and honest living. By no means is it perfection; it is striving for grace. It is coming to the end of yourself and fully relying upon the only One who can make a beautiful mosaic of the broken pieces of your life.
Christianity is a calling to be salt and light. Salt changes the flavor of food; therefore, Christians should change the “flavor” of their surroundings. Light gives direction, courage to take the next step, and safety in the dark. Likewise, Christians should be able to assist those who seek to be illuminated by the Light of the World.
“Being salt and light demands two things: we practice purity in the midst of a fallen world and yet we live in proximity to this fallen world. If you don’t hold up both truth in tension, you invariably become useless and separated from the world God loves.” ~David Kinnaman
I believe that I, as a Christian, should make a difference. I should be bold enough to stand up for what I believe, have the courage to explain why I believe it, and the wisdom to know when my actions speak louder than my words. This internationally known pastor has ceased to effectively communicate salt and light. His actions are in direct opposition to his teachings; therefore, he is not a good example of being salt and light.
Being salt and light is a momentary thing. It is a constant battle to consistently portray salt and light characteristics. It is a life-long pursuit, not a once-in-a-while jaunt. Just as one decision has ruined the life of this pastor and his family, a single, solitary moment can define greatness–as seen in the courage of one man’s decision so many times before.
Wading through the Rubble
Adlai Stevenson wrote of Eleanor Roosevelt, “She would rather light candles than curse the darkness, and her glow has warmed the world.”
In response to the as yet undisclosed sin that spurned this blog entry, I say, “Good for you, church. Rather than sweeping this under the rug, you confronted it, brought it to the authorities, and left it in the hands of the justice system. Good for you.” I am of the firm opinion that the justice system was put in place for our protection against people like this. No man is above the law.
As a Christian, I choose to reaffirm my dedication to the quest for grace and the pursuit of a moral life. Yes, I’ve stumbled along the path a bit, we all have, but today I again choose a momentary pursuit of upright living. I choose to make decisions based upon the moral compass instilled in me by my mentors. I choose to let my actions speak louder than my words: to be the “living epistle”, if you will. I choose to live and breathe my faith. I don’t identify with a man, I am a child of the Man who was the Son of God.
Out of the ashes of this circumstance, may we find the courage to stand upon our own principles against the darkness.