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The things that he has been accused of are certainly troubling but I am not going to speculate on what has or hasn't happened. Ultimately, God knows what happened and the truth will eventually be brought into the light. Whatever ends up happening, it is apparent that the name of Christ has once again been soiled. Whether it has been tarnished by young men that are lying or by an unrighteous preacher, the stereotype of hypocritical Christian ministers that are out for financial gain and sexual conquests is played out again before a watching public.
For those that are not of the faith, it is very easy to believe that all pastors are insincere and only out for personal gain. Sadly, there is a small segment of clergy where this is absolutely true but my hope is that Eddie Long does not fall into this category. But what of the untold number of pastors leading small congregations who faithfully and humbly serve their members and their community year after year, often unnoticed and under appreciated?
There are countless men and women of God who entered into the ministry because they loved God and what to see their lives be used by God to make a difference in the lives of others. I would like to think I am one of them. We don't lead mega-churches, we don't drive very nice cars and don't live in opulent homes. But we do faithfully serve God and live lives of integrity.
Very simply, pastors are human. We like to think of our spiritual leaders as being a cut above the rest of us and that they don't have the same kinds of struggles as the average man or woman. The reality is that not only do clergy deal with the same kinds of temptations as everyone else, but often they have no one to turn to when dealing with the internal conflicts of the heart.
Spiritual leaders are commonly placed on a platform in the eyes of their followers and viewed as being capable of doing no wrong. When taken to the extreme, I believe the reverence and awe that is demonstrated towards some pastors is akin to idol worship where the spiritually immature have replaced their worship of God with the man or woman that teaches them the Word on Sunday mornings.
When we have an improper view of our spiritual leaders, we are only setting ourselves up for disappointment when we learn that they are imperfect. At times, we experience this when they don't meet certain expectations we have of them; at other times it comes when we learn that they have been living a secret lifestyle. I say none of this to excuse unrighteous, sinful and, in certain cases, unlawful behavior. When clergy sin they should be disciplined by their church and when they break the law, they should be prosecuted (whether they feel like God has forgiven them or not) and make appropriate restitution to their victims.
Spiritual leadership is a privilege. It is not a right. Through sin and disobedience, we can become disqualified from leading spiritually. Just because someone we may possess certain oratorical skills or leadership gifts does not mean that character doesn't count. It does. When a person in a trusted position of spiritual leadership betrays that trust and does untold damage to others, it is not to be taken lightly. Over time, restoration can take place but it doesn't happen over night nor should the same level of ministry responsibilities in the future just be assumed.
A sincere man or woman of God will point people to Jesus and not to themselves. They will walk in humility and extend the same type of grace to others that they have received from God. They will lead with the gifts God has given them but will also admit when they are wrong. They will not be in the ministry for themselves but for God and others.
There are a lot of really great ministers out there. Please don't let the public failings of a few (or allegations based in falsehoods) cause you to walk away from God. Our eternal hope should be in Christ and not in man. The gospel is for sinners and, yes, even clergy need the gospel every day. I pray that in some way God will be glorified and more people will be drawn to him through this very unfortunate and unsettling situation.