Have you ever known a Christian leader who was less than perfect? Even if you don’t know one personally, you’ve surely heard of Jim Bakker or Ted Haggard. Sometimes Christians will leave the faith because they are discouraged by the fall of a charismatic leader in the church. Often non-Christians cite the downfall of such leaders as evidence that Christianity is a fraud.
In church last Sunday we had a guest speaker, Jeff Zehnder, spoke on John 3:22-36. This is the story of the transition of power from John the Baptist to Jesus. When his disciples asked him about Jesus baptizing people, John the Baptist said, “He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30. Although he was a charismatic leader and had many disciples, John knew that his role was to point people to Jesus. John couldn’t save anyone or forgive their sins; only Jesus could do that.
Unfortunately, pride and power get the better of some Christian leaders. They are only human, after all. They find they like the attention and forget that their role is to point people to Jesus.
Jeff Zehnder reminded us that we need to always remember who we owe our allegiance to. We need to always look to Jesus alone and not rely on a charismatic leader, or any other Christian for that matter. If we always keep our eye on Jesus then we will not lose faith because another Christian falls. More importantly, if we keep our eye on Jesus, we can help our fellow fallen Christians to get back up again. Jesus is the only one who lived a perfect life and gave up that life to pay for our sins.
Paul warned the Philippian church about this very danger, and that warning is important for us still today:
Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.
Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:3-11.
It is only by the name of Jesus that we are saved. Do not be led astray from the faith because of the actions of any human leader. They need a savior just the same as you and me.