I’ve been contemplating this question for quite awhile. It was probably about 10-15 years ago when my first mentor fell. Let me quickly set the stage and then we’ll dive in:
- First, we’ll look at where I’m coming from
- Second, we’ll look at why that matters
- Third, we’ll look at my past heroes that have fallen
- Fourth, we’ll determine what to do about it
- Fifth, we’ll decide how to move forward
Where am I coming from?
I’m just an average guy. I don’t come from a prominent family, I’m not a millionaire, and I’m not a public figure. Sure, I’ve published a few books, but no one is coming up to me in airports or restaurants asking for my autograph.
I am, however, a dedicated family man. I have a few very close friends, I bust my butt at work, and I enjoy the simple things in life. I’m a follower of Jesus and have been for 17+ years. God got ahold of me at the tail end of high school. Since then, I’ve been to dozens of Bible studies and small groups. I’ve graduated Bible college, attended seminary, and learned Greek. I’ve been to more church services than a person can count. I’ve read the entire Bible through a handful of times and I pray daily. I’ve even taught and led courses for churches and been on the board of a Christian school.
Why does this matter?
I say all of those things above so you know I’m coming from a place of dedication. I’m not someone outside Christendom, pointing the finger and saying, “You all suck.”
I’ve been inside it, full hook-line-and-sinker. To be honest, now, I’m not much of an insider. I haven’t stepped foot in a church for over 3 years. I still love Jesus, but I’m on the fringes with American Christianity.
As a culture or subculture, I think there’s a lot of room for reform. The tables need overturned and we need a new wave.
Here’s what I mean by that.
Past heroes who have fallen
The first person that I saw fall was Bob Coy. He was one of my favorite teachers because he could put you right inside the story of the Bible and help you understand it from the angle of each character. I listened to hundreds of his sermons while driving to and from work. But if I would have known what was going on in his life behind the scenes, I would have puked and quit supporting him immediately. His church at the time was one of the 10 largest in the country, 20K plus people I think. But the sins behind the scenes were unspeakable, disgusting, and traumatic.
Then there was KP Yohannan, reaching the most unreached places in the world with the Gospel. He introduced me to the 60/40 window, taught me to see the world at large and everyone’s need for help. I thought the money I was sending him was going to support local missionaries throughout Asia. Little did I know he was taking that money and spending it on his own luxuries, smuggling it for personal endeavors.
Then there was Ravi Zacharias. Again, everything on the outside appeared so polished. An international ministry with thousands of followers, huge masses of supporters, influence with global leaders and in countries where Christians weren’t usually allowed. He was so intelligent, so well-versed, and man, that voice—absolutely incredible. But if I would have known of how many people he was negatively impacting, mistreating, sexually harassing, I certainly would have stopped supporting.
And it just kept coming— Joshua Duggar, CJ Mahaney, Carl Lentz, Darrin Patrick, and more. I didn’t follow any of those guys. I had heard of them, but I didn’t listen to their sermons, watch their shows, or read their stuff. But the point is still the same:
They each had their own hypocrisies and hidden sins, which eventually became public. And all of those sins revolved around too much power, combined with big money, combined with sexual addictions. Some were deeply perverted. All were harmful, both to others and to themselves.
It makes me wonder… who will fall next? How corrupt is the evangelical church in America? Are true Christians, true followers of Jesus a dying breed?
And it also makes me wonder…what do you do in light of all this?
What to do about it?
First, we can apologize. I do apologize. People claiming to follow Christ shouldn’t act that way. Hurting others is not ok. Sexual sin is a terrible and awful thing. Perversion is inexcusable and unacceptable. Victims of this abuse are right to be upset, right to press charges, right to ask for justice. My wife is a sexual abuse victim and I stand by her side on a daily basis. Her life and the lives of those like her are never the same after those awful events. So, I’m sorry that Christians, especially pastors and leaders, have sucked.
Daniel, from the Bible, lived in times like these. So did many of the other prophets. So did Jesus. The religious and political systems of their day were extremely broken, corrupt, and abusive. So, I guess I’m saying we are in good company if we are trying to live righteously in the thick of it. Based on the historical biblical record, others have faced similar to what we are facing today.
So on one hand, that’s reassuring. But I’m also trying to figure out how we move forward. This stuff is heavy. It weighs on you. It drags you down. It steals your hope. It ruins your joy. It taints your view of the world. It makes you lose trust. But somehow, someway, we have to find a path forward.
We can’t just sit in it. We will be even more miserable if we do.
How do we move forward?
I think the answer is simple. Simple to say, tough to live out on the daily.
- We live with integrity anyway.
- We keep walking in the right path anyway.
- We keep reading the Bible and trying to figure out how Jesus would want us to live in this moment, with these circumstances, anyway.
- We hold leaders accountable, ourselves accountable, and we do what’s right, anyway.
- We treat others with respect anyway.
- We step up as the next generation of leaders anyway.
Anyway. We live out the way of Jesus any way we can.
We live out the golden rule. We treat others as we would want to be treated. We don’t put people on a pedestal, but we put God on a pedestal. By this, the world will know we are His disciples… by what?
I’m writing this because I love you. Believer or nonbeliever. Black or white. Old or young. Rich or poor. I want us to move forward, better tomorrow than we are today. Peace to you.