By now you’ve probably heard the news of another well-known, popular, evangelical pastor and author falling from grace. We’ve all become use to the flood of emotions and frustrations when we read the headlines. Only this time, it wasn’t a pastor having a moral fall, being released from his church because of financial greed, or any other form of necessary church discipline. In the last few days, Joshua Harris, well-known ex-pastor and author, announced he and his wife will be divorcing. This is sad in itself, but it becomes even more shocking when you know that he is the author of the older, but popular book I Kissed Dating Goodbye, which was instrumental for many in the purity movement. Recently he has veered from his stronger stance he first echoed, even apologizing for the things he wrote. The most troubling thing, however, was about a week later, Joshua Harris stated that he no longer considers himself a Christian.
I don’t intend to dive further into his story, or even to speculate on all the reasons why this may have happened. Perhaps we should all wait for him to give more of an explanation as to where he is now in life, before we draw our own conclusions. Our correct response should not be to gossip, or feel better about ourselves, because at least I’m not as far down the line as Joshua Harris is. The Christian community should pray for him and his family.
Pastors, church leaders, all Christians—let this be another of the many wake up calls we should not ignore. We must pray for each other! Why? Because, “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” We are in a spiritual battle. The Bible tells us that. Charles Spurgeon once said, “When you sleep, remember that you are resting on a battlefield; when you travel, suspect an ambush in every hedge.” When the Bible speaks of the spiritual battle, it is not figurative, or metaphorical, but literal! We are in a battle for people’s eternal destinies and for the truth of God’s word to be proclaimed to everyone on the planet. The problem is, which we are repeatedly told in the Bible, is that living as a follower of Jesus is not easy. Jesus said in Matthew 10:22, “You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.”
Attacks may come in the way of physical harm, imprisonments (as Paul endured), or like Joshua Harris and many others today deal with—is the truth in Jesus and the word of God enough, or are we going to cave to the pressures of what society tells us we should believe? Let me offer Paul’s advice on how we should stand. “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” As I think about the context of Paul writing that letter to the Philippians (he was in prison for his unrelenting faith in Jesus and Him crucified), I am invigorated with a sense of passion for the gospel! Yes people will disagree with me sometimes. Yes people will oppose me, solely because I put my faith in Jesus. But what this must do is not cause me to hate anyone, or close off in my own “safe” circle away from the possibility of rejection. What this kind of rejection (that Jesus said clearly would happen) must aggressively push me towards is more of Jesus and less of me. It should break my heart for the souls of everyone. And finally, as I see brothers and sisters consistently turning away, or just loosening up their theology to quiet the roar of world, I know we must take serious the charge in Ephesians 6:10-11 to, “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” We must “Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”