In the past week or two, some pretty visible inidividuals have fallen from grace. I wont go into what the issues are, or who they were, as thats really a secondary concern. A bigger issue I think is that the tendency to tie in the message with the messenger… When such happens, the message gets compromised in a huge way, and secondly, it elevates leaders to a spot where they ought not to be.
First, the message, if aligned with the scriptures will stand on its own. It does not need a dynamic leader, a cool presentation, cool music etc. Certainly all of those things can be very helpful, but they really are secondary. The compromised message occurs, not by the message in and of itself, but by diminishing its relevance based upon the messengers actions. There is a tendency to do the toss the baby out with the bathwater deal, if the messenger hoses up, and all messengers sooner or later are going to hose up. Some obviously much more than others. The message however can and should stand on its own, provided of course that it is backed with scripture.
This errant dependency has a very long history associated with it, going all the way back to Moses, and yet God used him. Saul persecuted Christians, yet God chose him to reach out… Imagine the trepidation when Paul came to preach, as his reputation no doubt long preceded him. Yet, it is God’s word which was presented,it can and does stand alone. I think the message tie in with the messenger is human nature, likely going back to the whole original sin deal. In other words, pretty much anything which can be used to diminish God’s word will be used by the enemy. In this case though, its the recievers of the word who share the responsibility of proper discernment. Both in verifying the message does align with scripture, but also that if it does, it is of God, and the messengers actions or lack there of should have no effect on the message.
The second issue, is the proverbial sphere of perfection that seems to propagate leadership, putting them in spots where they ought not to be. A number of things are wrong with such a scenario, ranging from pride, to overconfidence in righteousness, to the inability of one another to bear one anothers burdens, to sheeple, who do not question and verify the message to see whether it is true, and what it has to say.
None of this is meant to diminish Pauls admonitions to Timothy as concerns a leader. Those are all things to strive for, and errors in such are a very serious matter indeed. Yet this issue also transcends way beyond the leader to the average Joe, and that average Joe guy best be prepared to take on responsibility, and let the Holy Spirit guide him, rather than putting a ton of his trust in a fallable leader. Non of us our righteous, all of us fall short, but God is there. We need to base our faith upon His word, not upon some leader guy, no matter how eloguent, dynamic, or righteous, as a fall at some point is going to occur, and if that shakes our foundations… then maybe the leader guy didnt go such a great job afterall. Not so much his falling from grace, but from not teaching the responsibiliy of discernment and listening to the Holy Spirit. And that also applies to those new in faith… stumbling by message messenger errancy is one thing, stumbling via hosed up or totally lacking discipleship is much worse. And for those very new in the faith, this is where the community must take on a role… discipleship is not Baptize and forget, the community of faith must be there to uplift and disciple one another. It is a major major deal.