This has been a difficult month for the American Church. On Sunday, Feb. 10, the Houston Chronicle published part one of a three-part investigative series on sexual abuse within SBC churches over a 20-year period of time.
Then, on Wednesday, Feb. 13, Harvest Bible Chapel announced Pastor James MacDonald had been fired after a recording of MacDonald making “inappropriate” comments was leaked to a Chicago radio talk show host. MacDonald’s firing was the latest revelation in a leadership crisis at HBC that has played out in public and in the courts for more than five years.
MacDonald was just the latest in a growing list of big name celebrity pastors who have fallen in the last five years. The most prominent of these include Mark Driscoll, Perry Noble, Bill Hybles, and James MacDonald.
In many ways, each of these men defined and shaped the American Church over the last 30 years. I could not help but remember David’s tribute song following the death of King Saul recorded in 2 Samuel 1–“How the mighty have fallen!”
Here are some thoughts that came to mind as I reflected on all of this:
- Be thankful for the humble, unknown pastors who toil week-after-week to faithfully shepherd the church of Jesus Christ.
- We are all sinners and are broken, fallen men and women; be thankful for God’s grace that covers a multitude of sins.
- God is doing something in the American Church. There is a cleansing and exposing that is happening. We need to humble ourselves and pray, “Father, not my will but thy will be done.”
There is much to be concerned about not only in the American Church, but also in the country where this church is planted. The United States has all the appearances of a nation that is experiencing a Romans 1 judgment, where God abandons people to the evil intentions of their heart.
As I hear the words of David ringing in my ear, “how the mighty have fallen,” so I hear the words of Thomas Jefferson who warned, “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just; that his justice cannot sleep forever.”
If judgment is beginning to fall on America, then we should not be surprised that the cleansing would begin in the church. As Peter warned, “For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17)
When Jesus warned Peter to be on guard against the attack of Satan, He encouraged Peter to “watch and pray” (Matthew 26:41).
Let this be a call for the house of God to fall on its knees in prayer. Let us humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God.
It is as if the Lord is saying to His church in America, “Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers.”
Watch and pray, for the hour of judgment is near.