At one time, it seemed that the scandals came weekly. Ministers of the gospel, usually on the television, seemed to be falling to sin that completely destroyed their ministries. Many in the Christian world were not happy with their theology at their height, and many of these men involved in the scandal often were caught in sins that seemed to reflect an emphasis in their ministry. Their scandals are still a blot on the ministry in general and even today, years later, people use those scandals as a way to mock the Christian Church.
I don’t believe that these people began their ministry to be false teachers. I think that they sincerely wanted to proclaim the truth. Eventually, though, they ended up in situations where they were accountable to no one, in their own minds, and appeared to act as if they could do whatever they wanted. They were sure that they could get away with their transgressions with no one noticing. “But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them—bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their depraved conduct and will bring the way of truth into disrepute.” (2 Peter 2:1-2)
The destruction for these televangelists and megachurch pastors came about because while outwardly proclaiming the need to follow the Lord, they began to deny His lordship in their own lives. They began to believe that they were better than others; they began to act as if the “rules” didn’t apply to them. “Rules? I thought we lived by grace?” you might ask. While it is true that we live by grace, the grace of God doesn’t give anyone an excuse for deliberately sinning. Those folks caught in those scandals will receive forgiveness from God because of His grace; but by proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ while living as if what they did wasn’t important, they lived as if grace didn’t matter and the whole problem of sin was absolved if you didn’t get caught. Once caught in their sin, in their grace-defying lives, they brought destruction on themselves and brought the way of truth, the gospel, into disrepute. Their lack of accountability before God has hurt Christians all over the world.
I point that out because these people had much. They had great influence. Their fall was even greater in the eyes of men. While God can grant them grace, we live in a world that doesn’t grant grace. We live in a world that attributes the sins of one person to the whole belief system they support. I look at my life and realize that my influence is not as wide as theirs was, but I still have influence over others; I am still a model for what the gospel should look like. That drives me to come before God every day and ask Him to make me the kind of person I need to be. God forbid that I begin to think that I am so important that I can do what I want and be the kind of person who claims to follow Christ and yet lives a life that shows I really don’t care about His lordship. God forbid that anyone who knows me be able to say that my failure to be true to Christ was the reason they left the faith. This is why I am accountable. I am accountable to my wife and children; I am accountable to my church; I am accountable to every person I meet; I am accountable to God. I live each day in the grace of God, so I don’t fear that I’ll do something to cause God to stop loving me, but I seek to live each day joyfully as He would have me live.
Oh Lord, it is so easy to forget that You really are Lord! So often I work on “autopilot” and get through the day without worrying about things and people around me. It is so easy to give in to temptation. Remind me each day that I am Your child, and then help me live that day as a child of the King.