I read a story recently about a guy who had been in ministry nearly all of his life. At one instance, he gathered a major crowd (composed of fans and foes) to see him perform a great "miracle". He was only a teenager at the time. Later in his life, as he had moved up in ministry and it seemed that God had "promoted him", he was garnering all sorts of attention from not only his words, but also his fortune and fame. He was "God's man", yet living a very lavish lifestyle, and it would seem that it all went to his head. My heart was broken as I read the lurid details of his affair and the murder and cover-up that followed. How could anyone trust this guy ever again? How could he ever be considered as "leadership material" after such a scandal?
What a fraud!
He must have been ministering with bad intentions the whole time!
Yet, David was called, "A man after God's own heart."
During my time away from the blog, I have completed the first rough draft of my book and one of the reviews I received last night was extremely thorough and even included a "This book is comparable to these other titles" category, where similar books were listed. Those of you who know me well know that I have not ever been much of a fan of Joel Osteen (to say the least), but God gave me a big glass of "shut up juice" last night as I saw that an Osteen book was at the very top of the list of "comparable books". I have been talking to a friend/mentor lately, who asked me about my feelings toward Joel Osteen. I really had no good reason why I disliked him so strongly, other than "he's too perfect", with his curly black hair, Texas drawl, and chiclet teeth. My friend asked, "But have you ever listened to one of his sermons? Have you ever read one of his books?" Of course I haven't--why would I watch or read a guy I don't like? He's obviously a phony! Right?
I was wrong.
"But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice." --Philippians 1:18
Paul wrote this, while in chains, in prison, to those who were complaining about a certain group of people they believed to be preaching with bad motives. Paul was in prison. Rejoicing over the fact that, no matter who was preaching it, the Gospel of Jesus Christ was being preached. Others were taking the time to devour their neighbors instead of preaching the Gospel. The Gospel of love that is unconditional, grace that knows no bounds, acceptance for the outcasts, and peace in the midst of strife. Yea, remember that Gospel?
So, in taking the time to judge Joel Osteen for the past several years, I have been WRONG. Whether YOU personally like him or not, I was wrong. Whether he lives what may appear to be too lavish of a lifestyle or not, I was wrong.
I was wrong.
I was a fraud.
I think back to the days when I was a teenage youth leader, hooked on porn.
Or when I was living in sexual immorality during my time in ministry school.
Yea. I was.
I was a fraud.
So you argue, "The difference in David and Joel Osteen is that David came before the Lord with a contrite heart..." and "Your examples of your own sin, Steve, are from the past, and this is about a lifestyle change, not a one-time deal..."
How about now, when I have just one drink too many and go from doing "everything in moderation" to tipsy. Does it mean the work we have done here with Grace is Messy is worthless and fraudulent?
- Did my sin nullify Christ's work on the Cross?
- Did my mistake(s) cancel out the Truth of the Gospel?
- Did God's grace end there, at my failure, since there were other more perfect people standing in line, waiting to preach the Good News?
The World runs from Christians most often, because we are so quick to devour one another.
Here's the Good News: God isn't looking for a perfect person, He's just looking for someone who's available!
Question: When my book is published, will people then say that the only reason I ever had this blog in the first place was in hopes of becoming famous? I pray not.
Remind me, Gracious God, of the words David wrote in the 19th Psalm:
But who can discern their own errors? Forgive my hidden faults. Keep your servant also from willful sins; may they not rule over me. Then I will be blameless, innocent of great transgression.
May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.