Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Big sins, little sins ...

Keyboards have been blazing with new blog posts and tweets have been flying about the latest pastor who had an affair.

Yes, it's a terrible thing. Not something I'm going to specifically get into here.

But maybe there were some signs. Perhaps some things that so many pastors not only don't notice, but practice with regularity.

You see, when we marginalize the "smaller" things about obedience to God's Word, it makes it so much easier to violate the "larger" things.

For example, how many times have I heard a pastor joke from the pulpit that he has a "led foot"? And just recently I had an elder of a church cause me to swerve because of his dangerous, speeding maneuver to pass me on the road.

What about some of the language that comes out of the mouths of pastors, not just in private settings but also from the pulpit? (see my post, "You said what?!?" for thoughts about this).

What about some of the heavy social drinking habits of a number of pastors?

Doesn't scripture teach us to obey the laws of the government that oversees us (including speed limits)? Doesn't scripture talk about not letting any unwholesome word come out of our mouths? Doesn't scripture talk about not being drunk with wine, but suggest something much better?

It seems to me we allow a lot of "little things" as acceptable parts of our lives ... even blatantly from the pulpit. So as we begin to chip away at excusing all the "little" stuff, we make the "big" stuff not so big, and more within our reach.

So where is the outrage of the pastor who speeds to a bar and cusses at the guy who is driving too slow while he swerves around him and speeds on?

You don't think that matters?

It only matters when the "big guys" with "big congregations" cheat on their wives ... then the righteous indignation flows? Then all the talk about accountability pours forth?

There's a book called, "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff" and a saying of "it's all small stuff."

In my experience, real achievement comes by sweating the small stuff because that's where the details are, and without attention to detail, you have failure.

Without attention to our daily life in Jesus Christ we have failure ... and that starts with the small stuff!

Maybe if church leaders start sobering up, cleaning up their mouths, and stop dismissing the "little things," we'll see fewer moral failures of the "big" type. I would suggest that those who have fallen hard didn't start with an affair. It started by telling their kids to say they weren't at home when they were; it started when they thought nothing of establishing in front of their congregation that they regularly speed (and laughing about it); it started when they consistently use some of the same language the world uses in their sermons; it started when we participated in the gossip along with others; it started when one "little" thing, upon another "little" thing, slowly ate away at the person's character like erosion slowly destroys a mighty rock. Our character isn't just about the "grand things" we do for God, it's about all the little, seemingly insignificant steps of obedience together that begin to reflect Christ in us.

Instead of thinking we have to build fortresses of accountability around "giant" sins, maybe we need to think about how to get all sin out of our lives. NO! I'm not saying become perfect, none of us will while wrapped in this flesh. But perhaps it's high time we took God's Word a little more seriously with regard to our moral behavior overall.

It's a harsh thing to a whole community when a pastor falls. But don't marginalize the effects on that teenager --- or adult --- sitting listening to the pastor he thinks is cool because he cusses, speeds, and drinks (by the way, I'm not picking on those three issues, they're just simplistic examples, so don't get hung up on them). What kind of "disciple" are we making in that situation?!

To me, the issue is bigger than the whirlwind around adultery. It's about genuinely letting the Holy Spirit renew our minds. In Christ, the old has passed, and we have become new. Let's live that way, today, tomorrow, and as long as the Lord gives us, through His power, to His glory!

Let's hear from Paul through his writing in Ephesians 4:17-32, "17 With the Lord’s authority I say this: Live no longer as the Gentiles do, for they are hopelessly confused. 18 Their minds are full of darkness; they wander far from the life God gives because they have closed their minds and hardened their hearts against him. 19 They have no sense of shame. They live for lustful pleasure and eagerly practice every kind of impurity. 20 But that isn’t what you learned about Christ. 21 Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, 22 throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. 25 So stop telling lies. Let us tell our neighbors the truth, for we are all parts of the same body. 26 And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.” Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 for anger gives a foothold to the devil. 28 If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. 29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. 30 And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. 32 Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you."


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