Clean Your Room — The Wine Patch
I have waited an entire year to write this. At the time, I sensed it was too easy to hop on the wagon and parrot back what everyone was already thinking. But as is often the case, the passage of time begins to gently reveal the depths of a matter, patterns of brokenness, and pathways to grace few dares to consider. Wisdom is the revelation of truth over time.
In late 2020, during the fog bank of elections, fraud, the virus, and riots, the mainstream Christian church was quietly but seismically rocked once again by another moral failure.
A fairly local-to-me yet international Mega-church pastor was forced to relinquish his position after an extended foray into marital infidelity became public.
The first question in cases like this is; did he confess out of true remorse or was he caught? It turned out to be the latter, but I’m sure that didn’t matter much to his shattered wife and wrecked kids.
And second, is “moral failure” too vague a term ascribed to a Pastor who not only cheated on his wife and betrayed his children, but also carried on with his spiritual duties, counseling, television hits and preaching engagements while embroiled in an affair with another woman for months on end?
A church leader must be blameless, the husband of one wife, and with faithful children… ~The Apostle Paul to Titus
It’s basically in the job description.
Recently, his wife gave her first interview since her family imploded. It was heartbreaking to hear her speak of this trauma in terms of PTSD; but of course, it precisely captures what she was innocently subjected to.
I attended this particular pastor’s services many times and even brought my family to attend weekend-long conferences. Heck, we still have a once-cherished picture of my oldest son posing with him after an event.
While his sermons carried more hip than holy, the worship music and atmosphere made for a deeply enjoyable experience where one could wholeheartedly engage with God.
But I did often wonder, as he do-si-do’d around the most basic doctrines of sin and repentance while vociferously acclaiming the secular tenets of social justice: Why does he carry more cool than Christ?
“He’s pitching a larger tent”, some would say. Others would defend, “He’s reaching celebrities none of us ever could.” Fair enough. But, as he spun up a highly entertaining church in this post-Christian culture, one thing is now quite apparent; Christ doesn’t need cool to sow His seeds.
The way to transform culture is not to spit-shine what we already have. The preacher’s role is to present the transcendence of Christ in a manner that lifts the gaze of the hearer to see there is an entirely superior kingdom at the ready
Hear Jesus’ words, T he Kingdom of God is like…
Three Yeasts Be Like
Jesus taught about the power of yeast as described in three distinct systems. It is a powerful object lesson because we all know how the slightest bit of yeast allowed into the kitchen will quickly spread through the whole lump of dough.
For two of them, he told us to beware:
Watch out! Beware the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod! ~ Jesus in the Gospel of Mark
When Jesus uses exclamation points, I pay close attention.
Quickly said, the yeast of the Pharisees is the religious spirit. This is a hypocritical, fundamentalist form of religion that is devoid of the power and presence of God and is hosted and spread by leaders in the church. This type of yeast attacks and infects the church from the inside out.
The yeast of Herod is the political spirit. This spirit is also devoid of the power and presence of God, but is hosted and spread primarily by governmental systems and leaders. Some of the tentacles of this spirit are corruption, control, and an intentional stirring of anger that keeps people at odds with one another. This type of yeast attacks and infects the church from the outside in.
Over the past few years, I’ve been carefully watching the infiltration of progressivism permeate through the church and render her supernatural battery far weaker than it has been in decades. Of course, we have tragically seen a cavalcade of fundamentalist preachers fall to similar exploits. In fact, around the same last year, an internationally renowned intellectual apologist of the faith was found guilty of sexual misconduct — post-mortem.
Notwithstanding, the tsunami I see outpacing church culture today is not fundamentalism, but progressivism. And I believe much of what progressivism carries is, by nature, a political spirit.
Clean Your Room Before you set out to reorder the world, it’s best to clean your own room first. ~Dr. Jordan B. Peterson
Many of the progressive, social justice movements today are highly effective at highlighting what’s wrong, who’s wrong, why it’s wrong, and where it’s wrong. Unfortunately, through an utter lack of humility and avoidance of self-reflection, these activists rarely aim their keenly honed gift of diagnosis at the most important patient of all; themselves.
Consider an all too common phenomenon today. Those screaming the loudest about supposed injustices remain conveniently blind to their own prejudices. And those incessantly decrying which structures need to be torn to the ground remain aptly resistant to any sense of personal repentance.
The good doctor was circling quite closely to an eternal charge found in ancient Hebrew scripture;
Become holy, as your Lord is holy. ~ God, as spoken through Moses in Leviticus
I remember when I was a church planter and was called upon to preach from time to time. In the week leading up, my internal meter which controlled my tolerance for personal sin would remain vigilantly pegged.
I had a heightened awareness that if God should be expected to breathe upon my sermon (every preacher’s hope), I needed to keep the tailings out of the sluice box. Even today as I lead worship in several prayer rooms, I am always in some interior, spiritual practice of panning the gold and discarding tailings.
I try to imagine that famous pastor. Week in and week out, he preached to countless thousands with a bevy of cameras on him. All the while, he was fully aware that he was cheating on his wife. I don’t say this to sling insult — it’s a serious question.
Only a hotly seared conscience can stand the hypocritical dichotomy of such an existence.
I’ll jump straight to a conclusion to consider: As fundamentalism breeds legalism, I believe progressivism breeds permissiveness. And, once permissiveness is allowed to pitch its ever-widening tent, the tripwires for moral failure are inches away at every subsequent step.
It should have been a flapping red flag that this pastor quoted more headlines than bible verses, and regularly twisted himself into contorted calisthenics trying to avoid speaking plainly about sin.
I am in no way saying that sin is the centerpiece of the Good News. Jesus is the Centerpiece of all creation. But, once sin has been deflated as a threat and relegated with a wink and a nod, progressivism has completed its work and has spread through the dough.
So while the volume knob is cranked up on the progressive bullhorns bellowing the various social justice initiatives that identify the oppressed and the oppressors, no one notices that the sin button was muted quite some time ago.
Find a bible and learn what Jesus taught about the Kingdom and you may be surprised. For it’s not a city in the clouds run by a ruler resembling Gandalf. No, you will hear captivating parables that speak of here and now: Merciful forgiveness, elaborate generosity, extravagant seed-sowers, spectacular banquets, and magnificent weddings.
And, he also said;
Repent, for the Kingdom of God is here
Cleaning your room matters.
Similarly, as the religious and political spirits try to infect the church, She has already been fully equipped and endued with superior yeast to bite back. Because when we reverse the flow and the yeast of the eternal kingdom is injected into the temporal religious and political systems — the inherent nature of the everlasting kingdom redeems, restores, and renews the whole lump.
Indeed, the Kingdom of God is in you and around you. ~ Jesus in Luke’s Gospel
Originally published at https://www.winepatch.org on November 26, 2021.