Another “celebrity pastor/author” fell recently, leaving his family, and even renouncing Christianity. This produced, as it usually does, a great deal of hand-wringing and nervous comments, a great deal of out-loud wonderings like “what does this mean for Christianity?”
In short, very little.
My family and I have always lived in the country, and I like it that way. I am not belittling those who choose to live in crowded cities; having easy walking access to restaurants and shops and jobs has an understandable allure for some, I am sure. But what living in the city misses is things like clear views of meteor showers that we so often enjoy “out in the sticks.”
It is dark out where we live. We do not have street lights or high rises. What we do have is a very black sky with very bright stars. And we never, ever fail to stop and look up each night when a meteor shower is visible in our area. There is something truly magnificent about those “shooting stars” racing across the sky like heavenly fireworks. But what many people do not realize is just how very tiny, on average, they actually are. Most are so small that they burn up entirely as they race through the atmosphere and never even make it to the ground. They produce a very bright and very short lived light; but they and their “flash” are quickly gone.
And what is left after they are gone are the countless trillions of actual stars, still firmly in place, still faithfully shining their light.
And the God who put them all in place.
I have been a born-again child of God for 40 years now, preaching for 37 years, married to the same woman for 25 years, and pastoring the church I founded for 22 years. And yet I preached at a big jubilee meeting last week with scores of other preachers there, and my “numbers” paled in comparison to almost all of them. I am still a “rookie” to those faithful, seasoned, godly men!
Not many people even know their names. They are not trying to become the next celebrity pastor; they are just faithfully shining the light, year after year after year.
Nearly 3,000 years ago a man noted for wisdom in his youth became very jaded in his later years. Where he formerly had his eyes fixed on the heavens, and the God who put them in place, somewhere along the line he cast his eyes downward and became fixated on all that was happening “under the sun.” He saw men in all of their failings, and here is the conclusion he came to:
Ecclesiastes 1:14: I have seen all the works that are done under the sun; and, behold, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.
Solomon got hopeless. Life became meaningless to him, where in earlier years he had awakened each day with the wonder of it all. And that is the risk that people take when they pin their hopes on a single “star” that flames out and crashes to the ground. But for those with the sense to cast their eyes to all of the faithful, nameless stars still firmly fixed in place and faithfully shining the light, and to the God who put them all in place, it is a different story. A shooting star is the bright light of an utterly tiny moment in time; the stars that remain are the exact same ones that Abraham himself looked up at in wonder 4,000 years ago as God challenged him to try and count them.
I pray for this latest example of a “star preacher” flaming out and falling to the ground. I pray for his family that will be left to pick up the pieces. I pray for his followers who have been hurt by his decisions. But I do not worry about Christianity for even a single second.
God never wrings His hands or frets over the effects of a single shooting star, nor should we.