Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Living in Reality

Okay, I promised to get back to how a Christian takes that first step away from God. This is the thread started last week as I continue to pray for my friend who may be tempted by a platform mentality, or the desire to be admired by others. It’s a daily struggle for most Christian leaders because so many people look up to them. They have to take those encouraging words you give them and put them through the Holy Spirit processor—all for the sake of the cross and all accomplished through God’s power and might and not our own abilities. To allow a little praise to inflate into something else is a big step away from reality.

1 Corinthians 7 is a treatise on how not to take that first step away from God. There is first a list of types that are not “washed” or made righteous for eternity spent with God. But then Paul discusses those who are washed, the sanctified who, only through Christ, are made just in God’s sight. Then the rest of the text is cautionary. We are not living under legalism now; we’re not made clean by “not” doing something. But that doesn’t give us a license to live for self.

What Paul is saying is that we’re not to be mastered by the things that can drag us back to the starting gate. In the first place, that impedes our maturity. Then he compares those kinds of weights to the person who is “made one” by sleeping with a prostitute. In short, instead of becoming like Christ that person is made like the prostitute.

So as we join our body to Christ’s Body, we are made one with His Spirit. We can’t be one with His Spirit and one with immoral choices. We become like the choices we’ve made. Today I either choose to be one with Christ or one with what is luring me away.

We are a continual work in progress. The easy way in life is to take the first step into the swamp of whatever we want to do, be it cheating in business or cheating with someone’s spouse. Then there are the lesser lures, but just as debilitating, like lacking in discipline or never exercising and developing our spiritual gifts—all a waste of a perfectly good day. Or as I discussed about a friend who is being tempted as a “celebrity” Christian leader, the temptation to be worshiped like a little idol. As believers, we can’t dupe ourselves into thinking that we can do anything we want and not become like that choice. To decide to do that is to purposefully stumble into vulnerability. That is how we become as Paul says, like a man who sins against his own body. It’s like perpetually shooting ourselves in the foot. My husband and I deeply regret the years as a couple we lost so much ground because, even though we claimed to be “Christians”, we chose wrongly.

That is what we’re seeing when we see a Christian leader fall. They’ve practiced making bad choices in secret and it has now been made public as they have become the thing that they chose to do. There is a cure for celebrity preachers. Just do like Jesus told us to do. Be a servant to all. Love others and treat them better than you do yourself. And remember to pray for your leaders and give them the same grace that you need in your own life.