Has slandering God’s name become more commonplace? Are we holding our leaders accountable?
Last week, my home Bible Study met to discuss Romans 2. We were asked whether there was a certain text that struck us as we read through the chapter this week. One brother immediately pointed to verse 24. “For, as it is written, ‘The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.’” He expressed his desire that the way he lived his life would never cause non-Christians to mock his God.
Of course, the point of Romans 1-2 is nicely summed up in Romans 3:9. “For we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under sin.” And, Romans 2 shows how easy it is for Jews to claim they, with the law, are the teachers to the foolish. But, says Paul, it is one thing to know the law and quite another to obey it. And, having made the point that many who both believe and teach the law are in fact lawbreakers, he concludes that the sacred name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of the unrighteous behaviour of the Jews.
I have seen both his temper and his disturbing behaviour.
As I write these lines, I am mindful of another series of church scandals. Many of you will now know that a prominent evangelical Christian leader and founder of Harvest Christian Fellowship, has just been fired for behaviour that is unsuited for an elder. I was not surprised, for in my brief dealings with this man, I have seen both his temper and his disturbing behaviour. But, it is not fitting for followers of Jesus to begin kicking a man when he is down. We should remember that all of us, are capable of the very same behaviour. Rather than gloating, I suggest we all do a sober self-evaluation.
Following this disturbing announcement (which became headlines in Chicago) came another announcement regarding at least 300 pastors and leaders in the Southern Baptist denomination who seem to have been involved in sexual abuse. It would seem that this abuse involved some 700 victims. It turns out, that evangelicals do well not to gloat over reprehensible Roman Catholic priests.
How easy it is to gloat and throw rocks when no one examines our sins…
As I read these disturbing accounts, I struggled not to roll my eyes and simply say, “There we go again!” Furthermore, I would counsel God’s people not to quickly make charges against powerful men. Those who do so almost certainly have never known what it is like when the spotlight is turned on to all of our own faults and failures. How easy it is to gloat and throw rocks when no one examines our sins, but we are free to examine the sins of others.
Please don’t read this as an attempt to justify the sins of these leaders. I believe this prominent evangelical Christian leader should have been fired years earlier. I also agree with Al Mohler that the Southern Baptists ought to look for an independent judiciary to investigate the conduct of some of their leaders. It is right and good that these matters are dealt with all the seriousness that this deserves.
The sins of the church are many. And God’s name is blasphemed.
But I weep that the name of our God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of this. And I know that the stories of the abuse of churches are not confined to rogue clergy. Many are the church board that is unaccountable, lies to their congregation, and abuses the vulnerable. The sins of the church are many. And God’s name is blasphemed.
What is to be done in the present hour? I have no counsel to give. But, I think the time is at hand, when God’s people earnestly come before the throne, confess all of our sins, and plead with God for a revival. For if God should withhold his hand from giving us a time of refreshing, what shall become of the glory of the gospel? What shall become of the countless souls of men and women who desperately need to repent of their own sins, and believe?