The intensely sad and extremely disappointing specter of another Christian leader failing in the public spotlight is on display currently with the recent revelation that the Rev. Ted Haggard (President of the National Association of Evangelicals) has admitted to buying drugs and receiving inappropriate touching from a gay acquaintance. This admission by Mr. Haggard came amid charges by the acquaintance that Mr. Haggard has been involved in a three-year sexual relationship with the man - charges that Mr. Haggard denies.
Whenever Christian leaders fall victim to such sin the damage to fellow Christians (especially those over whom they lead) is devastating. Though these leaders are fallible human beings like all men, the Bible clearly calls them to a higher standard of conduct befitting the symbolic position of headship afforded by their position: Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach; He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil's trap. (1 Timothy 3:1-2; 7 NIV) When the leader falls into “the devil’s trap” (as the Bible puts it), weak Christians become disillusioned by what it means to live a life in service to Christ; wavering Christians tend to see such behavior as license for them to give in to similar temptations that they too may be facing; non-Christians are left to point fingers at the "hypocrisy" of the entire faith.
As Christians we need to ask ourselves a serious question in the face of such a public failing on the part of a Christian leader: how diligent are we in praying for this man or any other leader of God's people? The Bible says: Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective (James 5:13-16 NIV) The Lord warns us repeatedly about the need to pray against the attacks of the devil. But do we pray consistently? Do you? Do you pray for the leaders in your church or the leaders on TV or in the public square who helps you to grow in your Christian walk? Believe me, I'm asking this same question of myself.
Here is our Lord Jesus Christ's example to us of how and why we should pray to God the Father consistently for each other: I (Jesus) have given them (the disciples) your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that You protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified. "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (John 17:14-2 NIV parenthesis mine)
The devil's goal is to bring down every Christian leader and individual that he can, as the Bible warns us: Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8 NIV) The secular non-Christian world are pawns in the devil's hand. He has no shortage of unwitting accomplices to assist in his plan to destroy all human beings. He already has those who do not believe in Jesus Christ in his camp of death, as evidence by this verse of scripture: Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. (Ephesians 2:1-3 NLT). Remember, the devil's plan is for death to all living beings, however he does not have Christians unless they walk away from Jesus Christ. Here is how Jesus says it in John 15:6 - If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
As a Christian if you are tempted to judge Mr. Haggard, please resist and instead pray for him, his family and the church over which he was a leader. Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted. (Galatians 6:1 NIV)
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