As I write this, yet another high-profile Christian leader has resigned in disgrace. Several months ago, a professed Christian author and pastor walked away from his faith – and his family. These events, and many others over the years, are plastered all over the Christian and secular press.
The response regarding these transgressions among other Christians is often embarrassment and disbelief (“How could they do that? I would NEVER do that!”), while non-Christians are often led to believe that Christians are a bunch of hypocrites, not practicing what they preach. The fact that these incidents take place in public, with so many people seeing them, just fuels the fire.
In truth, we all sin, and we won’t stop, sadly, until we are safe in Jesus’ arms. But that does not mean we should stop trying to avoid sin! James 4:7 tells us to “Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” When Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them to pray, He did not talk for hours about how to pray: he prayed a very short prayer that most of us know by heart. One sentence of it is especially relevant here: “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:13). Of all the things Jesus could teach us to pray about, he includes a warning to pray against temptation – so it must be important.
We are told elsewhere (1 Peter 5:8) to “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” While the evil one and his minions want to bring down all Christians, and thus ruin our witness to those around us, wouldn’t it be most profitable to go after high-profile people in order to get the most “bang for the buck”?
Recently, an article entitled “The Slippery Slope: How Small Ethical Transgressions Pave the Way for Larger Future Transgressions” was published in the Journal of Applied Psychology. The research showed that people are likely to justify small ethical indiscretions rather than large ones. Once they have made the small indiscretion, they are comfortable doing something just slightly more unethical the next time. And so on – until, eventually, they have committed a huge indiscretion.
…And that is why we are to pray against temptations – small and large. For ourselves. For our pastors and elders. For our brothers and sisters. For those in high-profile positions. Perhaps if we really commit ourselves to this, we will see a decreasing pattern of sin in our own lives, and that of high-profile people. And perhaps that will lead to an increase in the number of people who seek the only One who can forgive our sins.