This was originally written back when I was group-blogging over at CADRE Comments. But since there's another church scandal brewing, it seemed like a good time to dust it off and re-post it.
What's the next big church scandal? Money-hungry televangelists taking advantage of the devotion of the poor? Pedophile priests taking advantage of the young? The apocalypse industry? Its syndication in the tabloids? Another big-name preacher succumbs to sexual temptation or to egotism? Christian factions involved in name-calling melee? In-house church politics alienating God-loving members?
Even if they sound familiar, I suspect that none of those will become the next big church scandal. I think there are two huge scandals that we do not see clearly enough. First, that we are not tending our own houses well enough to stop many of these others before they become scandals. We see them coming; where is our outcry? Second, we are not living lives of such active mercy and compassion as to completely dwarf the scandals in comparison.
Wait, but aren't there Christians living lives of mercy and compassion? Sure, and there many of them. Are they notable? Sure, all of them. I don't for a minute want to downplay the vast numbers of those devoted to following Christ. Is that enough? Not yet.
"It is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men." (1 Peter 2:15) We're not quite there yet. "Live such good lives among the pagans that, even though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us." (1 Peter 2:12) "If any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words when they see the purity and reverence of your lives." (from 1 Peter 3:1-2) A humble Christian with a pure and reverent life may do more good than any number of evangelists and apologists.
Letting people know that there is true reason for hope -- that is our great calling. Right now, the strength of our answers is belied by the weakness of our lives. When Christian devotion to God becomes more obvious to the casual observer than the transgressions of high-profile and low-profile Christians alike, only then is their confidence likely to be restored enough to trust the answers we give.