This week on the blog, I’ve been talking about the recent news of the awful failure of Ravi Zacharias. He is one in a long line of abusive leaders, and started with the first post here I’ve attempted to tell his story and how we might respond to it. As I mentioned in some of those posts, it is not just leaders. Any of us can live a double life, unaccountable, isolated. We might even look real good on Sunday mornings, wearing our Sunday clothes and smiling, as we worship in our church worship services. But there is another side to our lives. It might not be as awful as Ravi Zacharias. It doesn’t have to be, though. Hear me again: I am not saying that, in order to be genuine followers of Jesus, we have to be perfect. Absolutely not. What I am saying is that we should be living highly consistent lives. The choices and actions of our lives should be significantly in line with what we say we believe about Jesus. The Fruit of the Spirit should be evident.
To build a culture of goodness, we need to live lives of goodness, and that means we need to be humble, teachable, accountable to others. Surround yourself with a few people you know you can trust and who you know have your best in their heart. I know that during this time of less contact that can seem difficult. But, I suggest to you, in love, that you do it anyway. Maybe it is by Facetime or email or text instead of as many coffee dates as you used to be able to have. It is important to stay in relationships where goodness is the culture that is being created.
Confess your sins to another.
Confront sin in one another.
Speak the truth in love.
Pursue the Fruit of the Spirit.
In McKnight and Barringer’s book, A Church Called Tov, they told the story about a person that was accused of wrongdoing in their life. They chose to respond to it exactly the opposite of Ravi Zacharias. You know what they said? They said this: “I say let the stories come. Let them all come out. Let every attempt to deflect or defend come to an end, and let us listen and learn from the courage of the abused. They, the abused, are our prophets now…Indeed the overdue purge has begun, and may it not relent until every hidden darkness faces the light of justice.”
We need to be especially concerned and empathetic about the vulnerable. About women, about those on the margins. About injustice, about truth, about abuse of power. We need to build a culture of goodness. I encourage to read McKnight and Barringer’s book.
Work to intentionally build a culture of goodness in your life. Jesus promises that in him life is abundant. This culture of goodness is a key part of that abundant life. Living in honest community with one another, pursuing a culture of goodness, letting our light shine and as we read in 1 Peter, “that we may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. For, once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. That people may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”