Judged More Strictly

On television a few days ago, the cameras zoomed in on Governor Clinton as he emerged from a Baptist church. He turned to reporters and told them he is just as religious as the Republicans. I'm sure he's sincere. All four candidates have made clear statements of their religious commitment. The question is, How well informed are their commitments? We get one clue in an extensive interview Governor Clinton gave the Washington Post. In it, Clinton reveals that it was a Baptist minister who first led him to a pro-choice position on abortion. The minister told him that life doesn't begin until birth and therefore abortion is not murder. He told Clinton he should use his own judgment to decide whether it is right or wrong. Thus began a journey that would one day end in a presidential candidate leading his entire party to a pro-abortion platform. What a lesson on the impact pastors and ministers can have on an entire society. The book of James says, "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." The powerful preacher Charles Spurgeon took that verse to heart, and discouraged young men from going into the ministry lightly. He wrote, "We tremble lest we should mistake or misinterpret the Word" of God. Reformation leader Martin Luther, who put his life on the line against the combined might of church and empire, said he actually found it harder to preach a Sunday sermon. The immense responsibility made his knees knock as he stood before the congregation. I remember when I was Marine lieutenant being conscious that I had fifty lives in my hands. And think how it must feel to be a 747 pilot, knowing you are responsible for some 300 lives. Any mistake you made could have drastic effects. That's the attitude a minister ought to have as well. Can there be any greater responsibility than to shepherd the church of God, purchased with Jesus’ own blood? Can there be anything more terrifying than to know you are actually speaking for God--the holy, majestic "I Am"? In Second Corinthians Paul compares Christians to ambassadors. We don't preach a message we've come up with ourselves; we preach a message entrusted to us by the Sovereign Who sent us. And when we fail to preach that message faithfully, the destructive effects ripple all through society. Think of the chain of events set in motion when Bill Clinton's minister told him he was free to make up his own mind about abortion. That unbiblical advice has helped lock a major political party into a pro-abortion position. And if Clinton wins the election, America will have a Southern Baptist, pro-choice president. My purpose here isn't to jump on Bill Clinton; I truly believe he is sincere. My purpose is simply to caution all of us about the seriousness of our responsibility. When we advise or teach others about what God says in Scripture, we'd better keep the words of James in mind: that we who teach will be judged more strictly.


Chuck Colson


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