Summary: Christians are called to be holy. However, we are not always certain what it means to be holy or how to achieve that status.
AGAINST THE TIDE
(PUSHING BACK AGAINST THE MORAL CLIMATE)
“Preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy.’ And if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.
“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the truth for a sincere brotherly love, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding Word of God; for
‘All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
but the Word of the Lord remains forever.’
And this Word is the Good News that was preached to you.”
s he was leaving office, the well-known Governor of a western state was exposed as having sired a child with a housekeeper ten years previously. The exposure would ultimately lead to divorce from his wife of many years and a court battle over custody of their minor children. A Senator from another western state was exposed for having an affair with a staffer; then he was accused of using campaign funds in a futile attempt to keep the matter from coming to light. A man who ran as a Vice Presidential candidate and then vied for the nomination of his party to run for President of the United States was accused of using campaign funds to cover up an affair with a videographer. He conducted the affair even while his wife was battling terminal cancer. Ultimately, his actions would lead to an indictment by a grand jury and a sensational trial. A powerful Congressman was exposed for sending lewd photos to multiple young women who admired his aggressive opposition to more conservative politicians and their policies. Yet another Congressman was forced to resign because he sexually assaulted the teenage daughter of a campaign worker. All these events were being reported simultaneously within a very short period of only a matter of weeks. By no means do these particular stories exhaust the news accounts of moral or ethical failure by politicians. Nor should Canadians feel smug about moral turpitude within the political class as we have our own sordid stories.
Among the churches of North America, the incidence of moral and ethical failure appears to be as bad—if not worse—than the incidence of such ruinous actions among the powerful and the elite of the nation. Throughout the past several decades, there have been so many accounts of pastoral fraud and moral declension in the pulpit that we are no longer shocked at the announcement of a new scandal among the churches.
While there have always been accounts of individuals who lived as though they need not give an accounting for their actions, one must wonder if this generation is capable of making wise moral or ethical choices. The paragons of morality cluck their tongues at the failure of their opponents and do nothing to clean-up their own lives. What has happened?
I suggest two major contributors to this insidious problem. First, Society as a whole has embraced relativism, abandoning truth and moral certitude. Modern culture has bought into the myth that life is all about us—about fulfilling our desires. Encouraged by educators and the political elite, we have placed “self” at the centre of our existence, dulling conscience and dethroning God. We have abandoned the understanding of right and wrong that once served as the foundation of Western ethics. This situation didn’t just happen; it was the inevitable consequences of a failure of the pulpit in these contemporary times. Let me explain.
Whereas there was a time when preachers would point to the Word of God, holding to the accuracy and the authority of what is written therein, it seems as if many have exchanged the truth of God for the futile imaginations of mortal minds. Contemporary preachers appear more concerned about having a job than they are about pleasing God. I remember an old preacher declaring that the preacher whose little message was “Repent,” had better pledge his head toward heaven. Whereas brashness is evident in the modern pulpit, boldness is a rare commodity. Adherence to the Word of God as truth is witnessed infrequently today. When it is discovered, we know that the brave preacher stands almost alone against the temper of the times.