The News and the Imperishability of God

Recently, web-browsing Christians have been fed a diet of bad news about famous pastors. Just search for "James MacDonald" or "Joshua Harris", and you'll get a taste. My purpose here is not to adjudicate in ignorance and from afar on those particular cases, but to work through a few important truths that Christians must hold to, in the face of such news:

God is imperishable. We know this, but it's good to consider it again. Whatever the bad news is, it can't harm God. In the end, God's reputation will be seen by all - really, ALL, from every place and time - to be what it should be: glorious glory upon glory, glory inexpressible. He will see to that. So really, what happens here and now, in a real sense, can't hurt God.

And we are in Him. This should breed courage in us. We will share in His glory.

And yet . . .

This life is a fight . . . to hold fast to the center - to the gospel. If we don't know that it's a fight - starting inside us, and in others, and in the church - we're not seeing the world and this generation as it really is. We're deluded.

This is Paul's warning to the elders at Ephesus in Acts 20. Paul wanted them to expect that "fierce wolves" would come from within them.[1] So watch yourselves closely. And then "work hard" in love: in protecting the flock; in providing them the gospel; and in leading them toward God. To really live is to be a giver, not a taker. We are all in need of walking in mutually self-correcting community. [2]

Which requires us to be . . .

People who cling submissively and humbly to the gospel. Paul calls the Bereans in Acts 17 “more noble” than the Thessalonians, because they “searched the Scriptures daily” to see if Paul’s message was true. Their nobility came not from being sticklers for precision, but for being humbly submitted under the truth, the gospel, the Word of God. This enabled them, when faced with Paul’s good “news”, to overcome whatever psychological hurdles they naturally felt, and accept it, and change, and repent.

The basis for change – the truth, and the heart for change – humility. And therefore, since the truth is Jesus, also the power for change – the amazing grace that is found in Him. Sufficient grace, for all.[3]

How important are these truths for leaders, and for a church that sometimes worships leadership?



[1] Augustine in Confessions used the phrase “misled misleaders”. Often an apt phrase, in my opinion.

[2] I’m heartened by the fact that, in so many reports of pastoral malfeasance over the last decade, there has been an elder board there doing exactly this. Never perfectly, but there nonetheless, seeking to do its often-messy job.

[3] For those hurt by bad leadership, and for bad or errant leaders.