Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Last Words on the Bishop Eddie Long
If you've been under a rock the past two days you might have missed the banter over the latest allegations to befall a man of the cloth. Bishop Eddie Long (a megachurch pastor out of Atlanta) is being accused of doing some God awful things with some of his congregants. You can check the story on CNN here. Every time a man of the cloth is involved in a scandal it hurts my heart. I grew up in Atlanta, I knew tons of people that went to the Bishop's chuch.
When I first started to discover faith on my own, I used to go to World Changers, Creflo Dollar's church. It was ginormous, basically like attending a concert for the Lord. There were always people who talked about how he always preached about money or how he lived a lavish lifestyle. I can't say that these comments didn't affect my experiences at the church. Afterall I couldn't understand in my 14 year old mind why a pastor would need jets or a Rolls Royce. Eventually I stopped attending. When I got to college I was able to witness a small church grow into a megachurch of sorts. The pastor (Pastor Andy Thompson) RARELY preached about giving, he only accepted "love offerings" at New Year's Eve service. I don't doubt that he lived nicely but I never felt like I was in service with a charlatan. My current pastor is only 4 years older than me, but due to the intimate nature of our church, I know him far better than my old pastor. He's genuine and doesn't live an extravagant lifestyle. Both of these men are very gifted in delivering the messages God has placed on their heart. One thing these men have in common is that they don't pretned like they are without fault, or that being saved is like a magic trick that changest you instantly. They talk about the beauty of the process, which makes them very easy to relate to and follow as guides on this spiritual journey.
I bring this up because in the wake of yet another prominent preacher involved in a scandal people everywhere are on the "that's why I don't go to church" train harder than ever. Part of me understands their sentiments, after all i was skeptical of the church at some point. Then the rejuvenated Christian in me feels really sad. It's true that church alone won't get you into heaven but I truly feel that Church is vital to your spiritual growth. The thing that I think most people don't realize is that they're picking churches for the wrong reasons. Just because the church is popular doesn't make it the church for you. Just because the choir is awesome, doesn't make it the church for you. Just because it's where the well-to-do people attend doesnt make it the church for you. Picking your church should be about your ability to grow spiritually and use your gifts to help do the work of the Kingdom.
Bishop Eddie Long may or may not have done anything with these young men, that's between him, them, and God. Would I be surprised if he did do the things he's accused of? Nope. After all he's merely a man. I don't put my faith in the pastor, I put my faith in God. I have a tremendous amount of respect for my previous two pastors. I have faith that GOD put them in my life for a reason. If they were to be involved in a scandal, surely I'd be disappointed and even hurt. They're people who I've trusted to help guide me on my spiritual journey. But I'd just pray for them, forgive them, and move on in my journey. No sin, save blasphemy, is greater than the other. Sure we want our pastors to be as infallible as possible, but often times they're very flawed. That's the beauty of God's grace, we're forgiven! If we had to be perfect to go to church, there wouldn't be a single church in existence. If we had to be perfect to get to Heaven, hell would be more crowded than a walmart on black friday hosting a Justin Bieber concert with Michael Jackson and Beyonce.
Some people will stop going to the Bishop's church, that's their decision. Some people will ride with the bishop and not learn a thing, and some folks will stay and learn the beauty of God's grace. I really hope the Bishop can recover and if he has any iniquities in his life he's able to pray and be delivered. I truly hope people can use these unfortunate circumstances for the good in there life. To see that all are welcomed who call on the Lord, that you don't have to be perfect for salvation. And for those clergymen out in the world, they can use the Bishop as motivation to be more careful in their walks, that they avoid even the appearance of sin, so that they can better lead their flocks.