A Crippling Lie

A widely held belief is crippling efforts in the Christian community in evangelism, teaching, and in the general life of the church. By extension, it also cripples efforts of the Church to have a beneficial effect on the world around it. Devastating in its implications, this belief makes innocent people complicit in great evil, and in fact, allows less competent and spiritually mature people access to leadership positions while at the same time denying those same positions to those who should have them. This belief is very old, and is summed up in the sentence: Whatever is is right.

Whatever is is right. Translated into Christian terms, this means that anything that happens, whatever it is, whoever does it, is according to the Will of God and must not be opposed. For example, when the church bus ran out of gas, the bus driver said, "I wonder what the Lord is trying to teach us." Another man on the bus had already called the driverís attention to the low gas gauge reading. A wise response would have been to purchase gas ahead, or to realize that the other man was right when the gas ran out. Instead, the driver rationalized that the Lord had some great lesson in mind when the natural consequence occurred. This is not to say that the Lord is not in control of the universe. But He has designed a world that works according to natural and knowable laws, and men should pay attention to them and not look for supernatural meanings in the workings of natural law.

The same is true of human interactions. Men do evil things whether God is willing for them to do so or not. He does not stop them, nor does He alter the outworkings of the natural results of such acts. Good men are called upon by Him to state that what other men have done is evil. When good men instead look for some spiritual rationalization for the results of such evil acts, then the men cease to be good and have instead become accomplices of the evil men. The statement that a man who is dismayed when tricked out of a position which he had been promised is by his reaction proving that he should not have had it in the first place is such a rationalization. His reaction of dismay or even outrage is reasonable. Promises had been made that were not honored; his is not the angered frustration of a sinful man who has been denied a position he coveted for his own advancement. The machinations of those who lied to him and tricked him are sinful and should be condemned, not his righteous anger.

God wants men to do good, but He will not force them to. Sometimes the failure of men to do good will adversely affect good people as well as sinful people. How many innocent children every year are killed by those who drive while high on alcohol or drugs? A less dramatic example would be a situation I am in a present. I owe money to several people, but I am unable to pay them because a man who owes money to me is unable to pay me because someone who owes money to him refuses to pay him. I would gladly pay those I owe, if I had it. The man who owes me money would gladly pay me, if he had it. The person ultimately responsible for our failure to pay our debts is someone I donít even know personally, but this person is the one who is refusing to acknowledge a debt. Thus, this personís failure to act right affects me and affects my behavior. In the same way, every sinful act a person does impacts those around him in some way or another, at the same time starting a chain reaction of further sin or adaptation. However, if a person in a leadership position, whose actions can have far reaching consequences, is told at the very beginning that he cannot continue in his sinful behavior, or if others will be willing to recognize such sinful behavior for what it is and call him on it, then the impact will be diminished.

Unfortunately, this does not happen. Acting on the erroneous belief that if the man was able to get into office that whatever he did was sanctioned by God, other members of the church no longer challenge his actions. Sometimes this leads to the embarrassing spectacle of ministers being led away by police to answer for real crimes that the church people have turned a blind eye to. Other times this has led to men whose very actions are an abomination to the Lord being promoted to higher positions rather than being disciplined as they should be. And the worst aspect of the crimes these men sometimes commit is what happens to the few hardy souls who do stand up and say that what they have done is wrong, sinful, and dishonoring to God. Quite often, they are silenced by being removed from or denied positions of service. After all, no sinful person likes a whistle-blower. "The wicked flee when no man pursues, but the righteous are bold as a lion." (Proverbs 28:1) Unfortunately, the wicked flee in this type of case by vilifying their righteous accusers. And because whatever is is right, they succeed.

The Church must go back to the objective standard of the Bible to judge the actions of every member. Leadership brings with it responsibility, not license. If an action is not right, it is not right. The fact that someone did it or succeeded in it is irrelevant. If it is wrong, though it might be in operation, it must be recognized as wrong. Only what is Godly is right.

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MaryAlice B. Kelly
E-mail: kelly@kcaccess.com