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The Message and Not the Messenger
by Shakera Reid-Stewart
9/07/2009 / Devotionals
How many times have we heard about various ministers and devoted servants of God who have fallen short in the public eye? How many of these leaders lead alternate lives that are not exemplary to those that follow them and depend on them for Pastoral care or spiritual guidance? How many of them lead ridiculously lavish and extravagant lifestyles, while so many in their congregations suffer silently in poverty? How many people treat them as if they themselves were God and not the servants of God, putting them up on pedestals as if they could do no wrong? These were the issues that bothered me at an earlier stage in my Christian walk. So much so, that after a while, I absolutely refused to accept any teachings from the people who I deemed unworthy or to be charlatan. I would even judge them before even hearing from them. I would just see how people talked about them and "worshipped" them and then rejected them because I didn't want to become a mindless drone, conforming like the rest, because it would be disobedient to God. I got into some very heated debates about "big name" preachers who I believed were insincere. Even though many times it could just be a small thing that I criticized, people responded as if I had blasphemed. How could I? How dare I even speak about these people in such a manner or even question the motives, actions, or deeds of these people?
A pastor at my home church preached a sermon that gave me a totally different perspective on this situation. Yet another fallen servant of God was in the news for some scandal of the sort and he was addressing it. He acknowledged that they as pastors were to lead a life that is exemplary, but he also noted that they were human. To err is human. He continued on to say that we do put these leaders on pedestals, so far up that if and when they do fall, it is so devastating and it causes some Christians to become discouraged and go back into the world. I was still stuck on the part where he said they were human. I was now conflicted. On one hand, he was proving my point, but on the other hand, I was guilty as well. I realized that instead of becoming dependent upon God, we as Christians often tend to become dependent on the man bringing His message. The sad part is that when our earthly crutch is out of commission our faith is shot. We do put them on a pedestal. I also was putting them on a pedestal by expecting them to a perfect example of what God wanted them to be at all times.
Some time later at Bible Study we engaged in a discussion about Saul and his conversion in Acts 9. What if I applied my earlier judgment to Saul (Paul)? Here is this man who openly and enthusiastically persecuted Christians, who took pleasure in ridding the world of us, but yet God saw fit to use him. In one moment He changed Saul on the road to Damascus and the transformation still amazes me when I read his letters of encouragement and his willingness to serve God despite the trials and tribulations that came his way. The light had come on: "God can use ANYONE!" Imagine how many people judged Paul after his conversion. I wonder how many people questioned his motives, and turned away from God's message because of the messenger? I realized at that point that if the message that is given lines up with the Word of God, I should receive it. The important thing is to pray for discernment. God can use anyone to provide encouragement. I matured as a Christian that day.
Years later, I sit here in my bed doing my devotions and I come across a quote that is so profound to me. I use it as a part of my signature for my email. As usual, I get background information about the person who said it in order to be informed just in case someone asks, or to make sure that this person is someone who I would like to represent daily. Much to my dismay, my googling turns up some things about this person that I completely disagree with. I immediately go back in and erase it and start searching for a new quote. Suddenly, a voice in my head says, "Why does that matter?" I read the quote and knew that it would be a blessing to someone as it was to me and then I realized that I had almost regressed to my earlier days. It's not my place to judge the messenger. My job is to receive and apply the message.
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Shakera Reid was born in Kingston, Jamaica and raised in Miramar, Florida. Her passion in life is counseling and educating youth. Hobbies include reading, writing and watching movies. Her hope is to encourage others through her writing and to help them in their Christian walk.
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