I don’t always do something stupid, but when I do, it’s usually reading comments on blogs.
Seriously. I’m very thankful for the helpful quality and tone of 99.9 per cent of the comments I receive on this blog. But, dang, you all are the anomaly, I think.
That or I’m just reading the wrong websites. (Anyway…)
One time I made this mistake was when I read a blog post talking about some of the blunders and buffoonery coming out of a now defunct megachurch in the Pacific Northwest (I can’t remember the site, which may or may not be a good thing). As I read these comments, some thoughtful, some obvious trolling and attempts at gaining some attention for their own blogs, I stumbled upon a statement I never expected to see:
“I don’t believe any pastor needs to be above reproach.”
I… What do I even do with that besides say: “Well, you should, because the Bible tells you so (1 Tim 3:2)?”
Here’s the funny thing about this blanket character qualification for a pastor/elder: it’s actually not that difficult to meet it when you really think about it. I mean, at a basic level, being above reproach could be summed up simply as being a person of good character—you’re the kind of person who, as Thabiti Anyabwile puts it, “no one suspects of wrongdoing and immorality” (Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons, 57).
This, in a nutshell means you’re someone who is actively pursuing Christ through the power of his Spirit. You’re not perfect, and you’re certainly not sinless. But your character is such that others would be absolutely shocked if you were accused of some wrongdoing or immoral behavior or speech. People would be surprised if you were accused of trolling on a website, swiping from other people’s sermons, letting the kids watch the prequel trilogy first, fudging your taxes, sexually harassing your admin assistant…
You know it’s not that hard, right?
When we no longer believe a basic character requirement—one that, at the lowest possible bar, means adhering to “Wheaton’s Law“—is actually a requirement, it’s kind of pathetic. When we no longer believe it’s attainable, something is dreadfully wrong. It’s a sign that we’ve given up trying, and that we’ve given up loving one another enough to spur build each other up to love and good works.
That we’ve given up on following Christ in favor of some other “god” who won’t be so demanding.
Let this never be said of us, friends. Though it’s tempting at times to let things slide, don’t. If someone trustworthy comes to us and sees something in our lives, pay attention. When the Spirit convicts us of those secret sins we may be harboring, don’t tune him out. Take advantage of opportunities to build up others. Pursue humility with the Spirit’s help. Strive to be the kind of person who is worthy of emulation.
In other words, be faithful and obedient.
Because that’s all God requires of any of us. And that’s something none of us can ever give up on.