When the Mighty Fall

High level ministry debacles are nothing new, but they’re always confusing. 

Over time, a regrettable number of ministerial personalities have fallen into moral failures, invocation of progressivism, or voluntary deconversions.  Others who are currently in this lineup will not experience their supernova moment for a few years yet, but one thing is for sure:  when they flame out,  they’ll be taking souls with them.  Those sucked into their departure will be folks who have been following them for years, using their workbooks, watching their videos, eagerly retweeting all the clever things they’ve said. 

And then it’s over.  Celebrity St. Elmo leaves the building, but not before he or she tries to help you leave, too.

Thankfully, God gave instructions for the rest of us when an influential servant fails. 

In Leviticus chapter 10, He judged Nadab and Abihu for their unholy attitudes.  Immediately following the event, Moses reiterated to their father Aaron, and their brothers the command to eat the holy offerings.  Following a negative departure, nothing is more important than what you are feeding on, what you are allowing into your heart and soul.   

Lev. 10:12 Moses spoke to Aaron and to Eleazar and Ithamar, his surviving sons: “Take the grain offering that is left of the Lord’s food offerings, and eat it unleavened beside the altar, for it is most holy. 13 You shall eat it in a holy place, because it is your due and your sons’ due, from the Lord’s food offerings, for so I am commanded. 14 But the breast that is waved and the thigh that is contributed you shall eat in a clean place, you and your sons and your daughters with you, for they are given as your due and your sons’ due from the sacrifices of the peace offerings of the people of Israel. 15 The thigh that is contributed and the breast that is waved they shall bring with the food offerings of the fat pieces to wave for a wave offering before the Lord, and it shall be yours and your sons’ with you as a due forever, as the Lord has commanded.

By eating these sacrifices, the stunned remaining servants would maintain internal contact with the sacrificial breast (signifying the love of Christ), because in the wake of someone’s departure, some of us are quick to the gun.  We hate easily, judge easily, love to uncover every bit of filth we can find, and call it righteousness and justice.  The love of Christ does not descend into such places, but conforms to the description in 1 Corinthians 13.  

The sacrificial thigh (signifying the power of Christ’s walk), once eaten, would empower the priest, at least symbolically,  to continue a faithful, holy lifestyle.  Many of us are overly sympathetic with the failure of others, even to the point that we sync up with their sin.  “What’s so wrong with them? we ask, indignantly.  And so we turn perpetrators into victims, and their lies into truth.   But no such perversion exists in Christ, “the Holy One of God” (John 6:69). 

Hence, the necessity of both breast and thigh in the offerings.

The dramatic supernova judgment of Nadab and Abihu left a black hole in its wake.  And like it, today’s failures generate a pull that few can escape, least of all naive, unprepared observers.

I am a big fan of ministries in general, because I believe that according to Ephesians 4, these are gifts given by God.  It’s a good thing when the children of God delight in the grace stewarded to them through others.  But the stewards themselves are fragile, prone to fail.  They often dance too close to the fire on a number of issues, like “the seven deadly sins”  (pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, and sloth). They also have a habit of disengaging their ministries from the actual life of a congregation, opting instead for a more rootless platform where accountability is low, but celebrity culture is high.  

I’m disappointed when they fall, but certainly not devastated.  My primary food source has always been the Spirit and the Word.  No human ministry could ever top what I get there.  

Various chefs might come and go, but the food must always remain the same.

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