In 1956, as a teenager listening to a young evangelist people saw as the next Billy Graham, I gave my life to Christ.
In 1960, as a college student preparing for church ministry, I read that the evangelist was quitting because of Christian leaders and institutions not dealing positively with, in today’s vernacular, “social justice” issues.
Then it was revealed that he had also had an affair with a woman not his wife.
“How could that have happened?” I asked one of my professors.
My teacher’s quick reply: “He believed it could not happen to him.”
Presently, with frequent headlines reporting the fall of leaders and the end of stellar ministries, we ask again: How could it happen?
The reason then and now is often hubris—the mistaken belief that one is above the weaknesses of mere mortals.
“How have the mighty fallen!” David’s lamentation upon the deaths of King Saul and his son Jonathan—David’s best friend—could be sung today. (2 Samuel 1:27)
Power is the fundamental temptation, as King Saul’s attitudes and actions show.
In Eden, the primal temptation was: “you shall be as gods.” The serpent taunted Adam and Eve to shove God off the throne of their lives, and replace Him with the self—a move that actually enthrones the adversary and his demons.
Eden is long gone, but the evil one still prowls like a lion looking for someone to devour.
Hubris draws the demonic like a rotting carcass does vultures. Demons will always cluster around centers of power, from the president’s Oval Office in the White House to a pastor’s office in the church house.
The power-temptation’s intensity is magnified when institutionalism suffocates the life and energy of a vital movement, as Findley Edge detailed in his book, “A Quest for Vitality in Religion.”
A movement arises in fiery passion, then experiences rapid growth. The expansion becomes a threat to the status quo, and its establishments try to squelch the movement, even to the point of persecution. The movement’s popularity, however, continues, along with growth. The status quo establishment realizes it is whipped, and gives grudging tolerance.
With societal acceptance the once-fresh movement now becomes the new status quo. Its preservation becomes more important than the truth that birthed it.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Wallace Henley