Do not take part in the sins of others; keep yourself pure.
The sins of some people are conspicuous, going before them into judgment, but the sins of others appear later.
So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.
1 Timothy 5:22; 24&25 (ESV)
Recently unsavory revelations have come to light about a pastor in our community. This individual was trusted and now many are broken-hearted at what has been revealed. How does this type of thing happen? How did this individual get so far off track?
A healthy Christian community provides affirmation and accountability—both of which are needed to stay on course in life. Perhaps you have noticed that without affirmation it is easy to lose hope and without accountability it is difficult to maintain purity.
The word person (persona in Latin) comes from the Greek word prosopon, which can be translated “face to face.” In other words, each human is a person as he or she stands face to face, turned toward another person, engaged in dialogue, involved in relationship. In contrast, the word individual, developed centuries after the word person, comes from the Latin word individuus, meaning “not divisible.”
These are important clues to understand how I can stay pure. I stay on track when I embrace the fact that I am a person, face to face, in community, not a separated individual. I stay on track when I embrace a community that helps bring me to spiritual maturity when I humbly listen to other points of view—even those who disagree with me.
When a leader dictates through force of personality—instead of honestly engaging with community—bad things happen. Arrogance is not a virtue in Proverbs. This is underscored by Proverbs 12:15, The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice. Isolation is also not a virtue in Proverbs. When a fool withdraws from community he is asking for trouble. Proverbs 18:1 says, Whoever isolates himself seeks his own desire; he breaks out against all sound judgment.
The Bible speaks clearly about my need to embrace the wisdom found in community. Wisdom places me in a position to be blessed, a fact especially evident when contrasted with the arrogance and isolation that characterize the fool. O Lord, help me receive the affirmation and accountability You offer through community!