The other night I was sitting with a friend on a porch swing that has been in our backyard for many years. In my arms I held my youngest grandson in my lap and I was leaning him down in front of me and then pulling him back up to make him laugh. We were having a grand old time when, quite suddenly and without any warning at all, the swing pulled away from its anchor and we landed on the ground.
Other than a jolt to my back, we were all okay. I was so very thankful that, in God’s Providence, the swing had crashed when my grandson was up and not down. It could have ended much worse.
I rubbed my back a bit and my friend and I went on with our evening, but there was lesson in what happened and it did not elude me for very long.
Swings break. Chairs break. Things we have trusted to hold us sometimes don’t hold us. They may break quite suddenly, like what happened to me on Saturday night. Or they may slowly start to erode away in the elements until one day you realize the chair is no long trustworthy.
This same thing can happen with people. Leaders. Singers. Authors. Preachers. Pastors. Churches.
Just because they have been trustworthy for a million years does not mean that they are incapable of slipping or changing direction. We need to understand that just because someone has had a wonderful ministry for many years does not automatically keep them immune from making a bad decision or falling away completely.
I have especially noticed undying, passionate loyalty among certain camps within evangelicalism. There is a seriously unhealthy idolization of these men and women that breeds a serious lack of discernment.
Currently, the joining of the true teachers with the false teachers is taking place in all circles and camps. I can’t think of one that has not been compromised in this way.
While I have been watching this kind of thing happening in overdrive over the past few years from most corners of modern day evangelicalism, it’s now also happening with teachers I’ve trusted for many years to stand firm to the end.
What is going on? And why are they doing this? There is just no possible way to answer these questions.
Just like we need to realize that sometimes we need to stop trusting the chair that holds us, so, too, we need to understand that men we have trusted for years are capable of leading us down a wrong road. When someone makes a really bad choice to partner with a false teacher or to say something that isn’t biblical or to promote a new age author, this should raise red flags– no matter who they are. It should lead us to be just a bit more cautious and a lot more watchful. Is this a one-time bad decision or is this a direction they are going? Only time will tell. But if we close our eyes to it, we are making ourselves so very vulnerable.
The fall I took when that swing dropped was a hard one and it could have been so much worse. It could have been avoided had we realized the swing was in need of repair. Sometimes we can’t see things coming and we are caught off-guard. But sometimes we can. If God opens our eyes to an inconsistency or false teaching or a bad choice by someone we have trusted, then we must be willing to face that fact bravely and without rationalizing it away.
Does this mean you never use the chair again? Not necessarily. Some chairs must be cast aside because they are beyond repair. But sometimes chairs can be fixed. Occasionally, someone will recognize their error and return to truth. This doesn’t happen often but it does happen. One bad choice or one partnership with darkness does not make a heretic. We don’t want to be head hunters.
The main point of this post is to challenge you to only be perfectly loyal to God and His Word. No man or woman deserves our loyalty to the point where we rationalize unwise and even sinful choices. No human deserves this kind of loyalty. (If they are truly following Jesus Christ, they don’t even want this kind of loyalty). I’ve said this often but I see this as a really big problem as we navigate this confusing time of compromise and wrong choices made by people we have trusted for so many years.
I am growing less and less enamored with anyone that has a platform. I see a huge level of joining together with false teachers across the board. Ecumenism is worming its way into all areas of evangelicalism. I can’t think of one that has not been affected.
So if you don’t take anything else away from this post, I beg you to remember this–
Sometimes chairs break. We trust them but sometimes they break.
This is a very important thing to keep in mind as we navigate the strange synthesis of those who have a history of adhering to biblical doctrine joining with those that clearly don’t.
Just in case you think I am a little over-the-top, I remind you of these important verses–
I Timothy 6:3-5 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the [a]doctrine which accords with godliness, 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, 5 [b]useless wranglings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. [c]From such withdraw yourself.
Please Note: We are to withdraw from false teachers–not invite them to conferences.
Ephesians 5:11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather [c]expose them.
Please Note: We are to expose false doctrines–not pretend like they don’t exist.
2 Timothy 3:5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
Please Note: We are to turn away from those that pretend to be godly but don’t do things according to God’s Word–not join with them at conferences.
Romans 16:17 Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them.
Please Note: We are to avoid them–not quote them in our books.
Look, let me say one more time–I am not judging motives or hearts. But I think if we are going to be honest, we have to say there is something wrong here. Men and women who have taught that it is not right to join with false teachers are turning around and doing what they have preached against. It doesn’t Make. Any. Sense.
Get frustrated with me. Or call me negative. Or cancel your subscription to Growing4Life. None of those things changes the facts. Chairs are breaking and eroding all over the place and the only people that get ridiculed and bullied are the ones who actually acknowledge that it is happening and venture to ask a couple of questions.
There is no way to know who is making an innocent mistake and who knows exactly what they are doing and we can’t even begin to guess. But we should acknowledge that, for whatever reason, it is happening.
So stay in the Word and give your loyalty to God alone. Don’t rationalize away a bad choice. Acknowledge it and stay watchful. God is faithful and will keep us on the narrow path, if we but trust in Him alone to lead us.