A couple weeks ago someone who was very significant in my past was charged with some very serious accusations; accusations I have no doubt are entirely true. While the depth and severity were shocking, if I’m being honest, they are not surprising. As a result, the last 10 days or so have been filled with a heaviness I have never experienced or had to process. It’s nothing new, just new to me with someone this personally significant.
I have spent much time in reflection and contemplation. I have plumbed the depths of my heart and soul in a way absent before now. I was taken back to the “me” of 30-35 years ago and the context of the life I was living. In many ways, too many ways, it is horrifying to process. I don’t like the “me” I saw and never want to be THAT guy ever again.
I found myself very frustrated that I was allowed to be the person I was. Sure, some of it can be written off to college-age immaturity, but not nearly enough. I was allowed, by the pastor entrusted with my care and training, to act, think, joke, and DO MINISTRY in so many ways foreign to my salvation, my life in Christ, and the Word of God. How different would my life be if this man would have been the shepherd I needed and called me into account all those years ago? Only God knows. Here is one thing I do know, he will be held accountable. I am assured of that. The writer of Hebrews (in 13:17) states plainly that leaders will give an account to those entrusted to their care.
The power of those thoughts have overwhelmed me the last number of days but in all that, a truth keeps bubbling to the surface with the subtlety of an erupting volcano: I will give an account for Dan Smouse well before this man will. I knew better and in areas I may not have, I should have. God has made this truth foundational from the opening words in the Bible. I can’t argue it, I cannot refute it.
In Genesis 3 when the serpent went to Eve, Eve went to Adam, and together Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they each had a good story, a true story, a vindicating story of blame. God’s response was simple, “because YOU have…”
Eve didn’t receive a free pass because the serpent was so cunning and sharp. Adam wasn’t allowed to take a mulligan because his wife was not the sharpest tool in the shed. Each was accountable for their decisions and actions because they knew what God had said. He had given them His Word. It was clear, it was concise, and it was obvious.
The man I followed was a superstar; charismatic, powerful, and larger than life. He may have promoted his own star, but I’m the one who kept him on the pedestal.
Many will blame him for rejecting the faith. Many will say they want nothing to do with Jesus, Christianity, church, or the Bible because of this man’s evil. Many will blame him for lives full of sin and brokenness. They do have a point. He will answer to the Lord on their behalf. All we have to do is read 2nd Peter chapter 2 to know that is true.
When we all stand before the Lord, though (which the Bible unmistakably teaches we will), He will not say, “Oh, you served under Les? You were in his youth group? No worries, it’s all good.”
James records this instruction for us without qualification, in James 1:21-25…
21 Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.
22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror;
24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was.
25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.
I’m not minimizing the evil and treachery which spanned decades. I’m not redacting a man’s accountability. I’m simply elevating my own. While I’m working through the implications on one man’s actions upon others and in my own life, I need to be scrutinizing what’s in the mirror before me.