I posted this on my Facebook a while back. The response of a friend was to tell me (actually I knew by wasn't reflecting on the fact at the time) that MLK Jr had been an adulterer. It made me reflect upon a couple of passages I'd heard in sermons on 1 Peter. In particular chapter 4 (NASB)
15 Make sure that none of you suffers as a murderer, or thief, or evildoer, or a troublesome meddler; 16 but if anyone suffers as a Christian, he is not to be ashamed, but is to glorify God in this name. 17 For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And if it is with difficulty that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?
This also brings with it echoes of what Paul says in 1 Corinthians about being saved but through fire, with works not based on the gospel being burnt up.
It raises a few issues I'll briefly summarise.
- How sinful is too sinful to be useful? For example, was MLK Jr's entire ministry undone to his adultery? More pointedly, what about you or my own sin? What disqualifies us from being of value, particularly in leadership roles?
- Given we all sin and fall short of God's glory, and Paul says elsewhere (2 Cor 4:7) that the gospel is a treasure in a jay of clay, then obviously sinless perfectionism is not the goal before we speak or act (but is the goal)
- Don't be paranoid, be assured of salvation and faithful. And be confident in your gifting by the Spirit.
- Being tempted is not the same as falling, though thinking and doing are equated, doing is full blown sin
- The tongue is particularly damaging (see much of James), so keeping a reign on that will avoid undercutting your ministry.
So back to the starting image. Although MLK Jr should have kept his own lusts in check, and adultery destroys lives, his comments on militarism and spiritual death are still true today with interventions, drones and spying on a countries own citizens as it was during the Vietnam warm with agent orange, napalm and the very war itself.
So to my own thoughts, words and actions I tend. But do they silence my tongue in public? By no means!