A Truly Awesome Charge

  Recently, I was at the Wheaton College Commencement. Person after person I met said they listen to BreakPoint each day. I was pleased, of course, that the program is so well received, but I was also humbled that so many depend on me to bring them this message. It's an awesome responsibility. And the thought of that caused me to find a quiet place on the campus that day, and to pray -- to acknowledge my utter dependence on God, and to pray that I would continue to be faithful to him. It's a holy trust to be called to ministry, and one that should strike fear in anyone's heart. Charles Haddon Spurgeon, perhaps the greatest preacher of the 19th century, said, "To preach the whole truth is an awful charge." Even Martin Luther, who had the courage to stand alone against the powers of his day, said that whenever he preached, his knees knocked. The great men of the Scriptures -- Moses, Solomon, Jeremiah, and others -- were reluctant when they were called, and I can see why. I have lived in holy fear for twenty-five years that I might do or say something that could turn someone away from God. Some people, after all, will decide what they believe about God by what they see in you and me, and that's a sobering thought.
This calling is made all the more difficult by the recognition and adulation and authority that some of us in Christian ministry receive. Power of any kind can be a heady experience, as I know well from my time in the White House, sitting in the office next to the President of the United States, having admirals and generals salute as I boarded Air Force One. It affects a person's ego. And it can affect Christians the same way. And that's why I believe Christian leaders must have a group of people to whom they are accountable. Chuck Swindoll wrote about this years ago, and I took his counsel to heart. I have such a group, and I listen when they speak. There have been some things -- many of them -- that I have wanted to do and my accountability group has said no. And I followed that. Leaders, in particular, must be in submission to one another, as the Scripture says, out of reverence for Christ. Furthermore, sometimes we have to confront one another. And this is never easy. Recently I did a broadcast urging a prominent Christian leader to step down because of his publicized divorce. I did so only after much prayer and soul-searching -- and it's only the second time in twenty-four years I've felt called to do anything like this. But I believed it my solemn duty because the witness of the whole Church is at stake. Distressed by that broadcast, and I understand why, the leader called me. He corrected me on one point: his wife, not he, sought the divorce -- on that I stand corrected. He also complained that I had not consulted him first, and he was right about that as well. So I apologized. But while we had a good conversation, I explained that I could not withdraw my remarks, for I believe we must hold one another to account. I would urge all Christians listening today to take this seriously, to hold one another accountable, in love. For whether we're in a Bible study, in an idle conversation with friends, or preaching in a pulpit, we must be faithful to Christ's call. For there are those -- many -- who will judge our God by how you and I behave -- and that is a truly awesome charge.


Chuck Colson



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