Over the years there have been some ministers of the Gospel who have fallen in disgrace.
Now I can understand that some of these leaders are very charismatic and that they gather quite a following…people naturally place them up on a pedistool and hang on their every word. Especially when their teachings are supported by God through great signs, wonders and miracles. The focus quickly moves from that which they are teaching to the leader themselves. And some leaders encourage this, or more correctly, don’t discourage it.
But even the best of leaders can succumb to temptation and sin – usually through the 3 G’s – Glory (pride), Gold (money) or Girls (sexual immorality). Ah, there go I, but for the Grace of God!
So when these leaders do fall, why do so many people fall away from God as a result?
It is at these times we see that it wasn’t in whom they were taught about (e.g. Jesus) that the people believed in, but the teacher. And while I understand that the credibility of the teaching is at risk when a leader falls, the teaching, if the truth, still stands – but only if the people truly believed in the teaching and not necessarily the teacher.
Paul had a similar problem (although he didn’t fall into sin) in that his tremendous success led some people to superstitious practices thinking that there was power in Paul’s person.
God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them. Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, “In the name of the Jesus whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out.” Acts 19:11-13
But it took an encounter with a demonic force to challenge that assumption:
Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, “Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding. When this became known to the Jews and Greeks living in Ephesus, they were all seized with fear, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. Acts 19:14-17
And the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor. Paul they respected, but now they believed in the Jesus that Paul preached. So when Paul even moved on from this location, the believers who remained behind continued to follow Jesus.
So whether it is a leader we respect falls, an encounter with evil forces, or even if a leader moves on to another location, will it affect what or in whom we believe in?
Maybe it is a good time to ask, “What do I believe in?” or more specifically, “In whom do I believe in?”
Prayer: Lord, help me to respect those leaders around me, but to keep my focus on You. It is You in whom I put my trust. In Jesus Name I proclaim it. Amen.