(John 13:15; Hebrews 12:2; 1 Peter 2:21)
One of the major complaints of nonbelievers is that Christians are hypocrites. Those who don’t even know the great stories of the Bible can tell you in great detail the stories of Jim Bakker, Jimmy Swaggart, and the preacher down the street who ran off with his secretary. It is one of the most common objections of an unbeliever, that he would be a Christian, but those who claim to be a Christian don’t act like Christians.
I am sure there were many in the first days of the church who said, “I would be a Christian, but look at what Peter did. This man who claimed to be a follower of Jesus denied him. Not once, but THREE times!!” It is a valid point. The fact is, however, a Christian is nothing more than a sinner who is saved by grace. Even though we are saved, we are still frail, prone-to-sin creatures living in a sin-filled environment. That in no way excuses our sin, but it is the reality we live in.
The quickest way to fall away from your faith is to put too much emphasis on a man or woman of God. God uses human instruments to plant the seeds of salvation. He uses human instruments to disciple us in our new-found faith. He uses human instruments to impact our spiritual lives. In a society that is prone to idolize others, such as entertainers, athletes, and successful people, we take that into our Christian lives as well.
We place on pedestals our spiritual leaders. We normally only see them when they are “on”, when they are doing what God has called them to do. Because of that, we almost tend to forget they are humans, men and women who walk in the same frail clay bodies as we do, prone to the same weaknesses that we are. Since we rarely see these spiritual leaders other than the times they are doing the Lord’s work, we lose sight that it is only a part of their life. They have lives outside of their work for the Lord.
THEY ARE ONLY AS CLOSE TO GOD AS THEIR DAILY WALK WITH THE LORD.
Because they are in the spotlight, when they fail, when they sin, it is often made known to the public. Our first reaction is “how can that be possible?” Nobody is immune to sin. No matter who you are, your life flows from your personal relationship with Christ. A minister, a priest, or a spiritual leader is only as close to God as his or her daily walk. Like anyone, if they neglect their daily time with the Lord, they get farther away from God. It is only possible to minister to others from your own personal walk with Christ. As you neglect that daily time with the Lord, you start to be disconnected. You may have some spiritual gasoline left in your tank, but eventually you will use that up.
Those spiritual leaders who fail, fail because they have neglected their time with God. Someone who is in the Lord’s work has to guard, more than anyone else, against neglecting their daily time with Christ. There is a very real enemy who is out to kill, steal, and destroy. The enemy is very wise in the art of warfare. Why waste time working on taking out people one by one, when if you can take out a leader, you can wipe out many people at once. The enemy knows that to take down a Jim Bakker or the pastor of a local church, he can take out many people at one time.
The key point I want you to understand today is that you must keep focused on THE man, and not A man. Christ was the only one who did it perfect. My personal philosophy is to take the spiritual wisdom from other men and women of God, but never idolize them, never expect them to be more than the man or woman of flesh and blood they are, but realize that God has touched them in a special way and given them something that can benefit my spiritual life.
I have always called it my spiritual filter. Being in full-time ministry for the last 20 years, having been in over 500 churches of every type and denomination, having spoken at hundred of conventions, being involved for many years in the Christian TV world, I have had a unique opportunity to see an incredible number of God’s choicest servants of our day. The list is a who’s who of spiritual giants.
However, no matter who the person was, I always do two things. I always line up what they said with the Word of God. That is test number one. I don’t care who it is. If it is not in line with the Word of God, it is not something I want. Second, I always look at the man or woman of God as an instrument God was using. I never expected them to be supernatural or anything other than a vessel God was using to bring spiritual truths into my life. The only person I ever idolized, or tried to pattern my life after, was the life of Christ. I have always taken what I can from men and women of God, and tried to use that to help me in my quest to be more like Christ each and every day.
I love you, and care about you so much. Today’s word is an important reminder to never get so focused on a man or woman of flesh and blood, that you let it get in the way of your own personal walk with Christ. God has placed men and women of God in our lives to help teach us and show us the truths of His Word. However, no matter how close to the Lord they may be, the only one we should ever try to pattern our lives after is Jesus Christ, because He is the only one who lived this life without sin. He is our example and the one each one of us should strive to be like.
Take time today to pray for those God has placed in spiritual leadership over you, your pastor or priest. Pray for those that God brings into your life to share the truths of His Word and to help you grow spiritually. But never lose sight that they are mere mortals, men and women of flesh and blood like you and me. Never let your eyes focus so much on a man, that you lose sight of THE man. After all, no man could die for your sins. It was THE man who loved you so much, that He willingly bled and died so that you might have everlasting life. Keep your eyes focused on HIM.
In His love and service,
Your friend and brother in Christ,
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