Over the past week or two, I have received emails that reported the (alleged) scandalous sin of a high-profile pastor/Gospel Music artist (or is that Gospel Music artist/pastor?). Then, other emails began to come in, retracting the news reports. I have not searched out to the matter to see which story is true – the report or the retractions. And I don’t intend to. But there is a larger lesson that I think we, as Christians, should consider as a result of this incident. Christian leaders (I’m not sure if that ought to be in quotation marks, in this case) are public figures. However, as brothers in Christ, we have a responsibility to handle news about them in Christian love. If these reports about this brother are false, then his reputation has been injured greatly and many people have been unnecessarily hurt by lies. And, of course, if this news is false, there will not be the same energy put into publishing the retraction that is was in putting out the lies. I believe Christ is dishonored and that our fellowship with one another is despised by such actions. And, even if it is true (and I pray that it is not), I don’t understand how it would edify anyone to receive the emails that link people to such news. I don’t have a alternative to recommend about how to handle news about public Christian figures. But spreading reports of their downfall across the internet doesn’t seem to be the way. Christians should not be doing “tabloid” journalism.
And while I’m on this rant, let me beg us one again: stop making celebrities out of Christian leaders. We are called to be famous celebrities. We are called to be servant-leaders. We are to lead with willing hearts, humble spirits, and God-glorifying motives. The Lord has not called us to make us famous! We who preach, teach, write, sing, lead, etc. should resist any attempt to put too much attention on us and what we do. If people are really blessed by what you do, it’s not because of you. It’s because we are trophies of God’s amazing grace. Give the glory to God. Stop “plagiarism against the Holy Spirit” (I got this phrase from Manuel Scott, Jr.), taking credit for things that only the Lord can perform. And those of you who are blessed by the ministries of others, thank God for the, encourage them, and pray for them. But don’t treat them like celebrities. The fact that I am called to preach does not make me inherently more special than the rest of the saints in the church. We are humans. We are sinners. And we are all unworthy vessels that God sovereignly chooses to use for his glory. So stop treating men and women in the church like we are more than we are. This way, we the news of one’s failures come to light, it won’t be so devestating to people’s faith and the mission of the church. In Christ there is no failure. Let’s make sure that he is the only celebrity in the church (Col. 1:18)!