FAITHFULNESS And INTEGRITY
By William R. Cunningham
I have recently reached my limit in dealing with the way churches and religious organizations operate. What am I talking about you may ask? I do computer contract work on the side by helping people setup systems, network their computers, design and implement web sites, and more. Recently I have had two incidences with religious organizations that were very frustrating to say the least. On one occasion I was supposed to meet the owner of a Christian bookstore to discuss the possibility of designing a web site. Upon arriving, I was told that the owner was not present and that he was at a funeral. I somewhat understood that something had come up and at the last minute he could not keep his appointment. However, the appointment was made over a week prior and funerals are usually not a last minute thing. To make things worse, I not received a phone call since.
There was another church that requested that I help them with their web site on two separate projects. One was a basic update to the website and the other was to implement an online store. I met with the representative of the church to discuss the online store and I corresponded with a representative regarding the basic updates. These were two separate projects. I have not heard from the church regarding the online store and I found out that the church decided to use someone in-house for the basic web site updates, which was OK except that I was never contacted and I was poised ready to tackle their project. The interesting thing was that I had already decided to do it for free. To cut a long story short, I repeatedly encounter such lack of integrity and faithfulness with religious organizations and churches. However, there is a church that I have done work for that demonstrated a high degree of integrity. That church is the Abundant Life Christian Center where Reverend Robert Randolph-Davis is the pastor. The other non-integrity (at least with me) organizations will remain nameless.
I have found that Christian organizations demonstrate a severe lack of integrity and faithfulness. It is no wonder why non-Christians do not respect the church as it once did. It is no wonder that the church seems to look more and more like the rest of the world. The church organization, more precisely its people, demonstrates less and less of the true attributes of the Spirit of God. When the world looks at Christians it should see Christ. Instead, the church demonstrates the attributes of a typical worldly organization and its sinful people.
Where has integrity gone in the church? Why are churches, religious organizations, and professed Christians so faithless (undependable, unreliable) and lack integrity? I want to talk about this in this lesson so that we can be aware that people are looking at us (Christians) and we should demonstrate the attributes of Christ for all to see. Perhaps I am also venting a little bit as well.
The Light of the World
The light that Christians emanate should reveal the good works that originate from a Christ-like lifestyle. What do we typically see from the church community (not that all churches are bad)? We normally see bickering, power struggles, hype, greed, and the like. There is a church in the news now where there is a struggle for someone to become the pastor. The police was called on some occasions and now the matter is in the local courts. This is what the world sees of the church today. However, we must consider that the perception of the church by the world is due to its perception of the people in the church. In other words, the people make up the church. So it is the people within the church that demonstrate a lack of integrity and faithfulness. The light is definitely not shining, at least not the light of Christ.
The church (the body of Christ) is becoming less and less a force in the world because the church organization has shown the world a false Christ-like operation. The light is not out though. There are many Christians that are pursuing the truth in Gods word. There are still many Christians and church organizations that are truly lights for Christ. However, with so much negative press and so much rampart demonstration of dishonesty, it is no wonder why the world could care less about the church.
I have dealt with church organizations for a very long time and in most cases I was extremely frustrated. I gave up on church at one point and wanted nothing to do with it. This did not affect my relationship with God, however. I was tired of the lies, power struggles, dishonesty, lack of integrity, and an absence of faithfulness. I was tired of the pastor saying one thing and doing another. I was tired of the pastor and church leaders pretending that they cared when all along people were simply pawns used to build the great church kingdom. Who needs the aggravation? Who needs the pain and frustration? Why bother? Im sure many in the world have very similar questions. Why go to church when the church "aint doin nothin"
The Light That Shines
How does the world perceive the church? Consider a comedy act. Many times a comedian will mock the church by imitating a preacher. Im sure you have seen one of those routines or skits. Well that is how they perceive the church. It isnt an organization that is about doing good. It isnt a faith that promotes truth. It is a greedy monster taking your money so that it can have whatever it wants, the leaders that is. That is the light of the church that people outside of the church see.
The True Light
We already read where Jesus Christ said that we are the light of the world and that we should let that light shine before men. What is this light? Consider the following scripture.
This light source is Jesus Christ or at least it should be. Christ fuels the light that we shine. The Christian should demonstrate certain attributes that are becoming of a Christian. The world should be able to look at us and know that we are Christians whether they believe in Christ or not. They should at least categorize us as those who are of the WAY as was done in the early church period. The true light is Jesus Christ and that light is what we should shine so that the whole world can see Christ.
Consider another scripture given to us by Paul the Apostle.
A Christian should demonstrate the attributes that are associated or originate from the Spirit of God. The greatest of these is love. However, I want to focus on the aspect of integrity and faithfulness in this lesson. So lets begin.
What is integrity? The word integrity means to have a firm adherence to a code of moral or artistic values: incorruptibility. It means to be sound and to posses honesty. Integrity implies honesty and soundness. It also implies an adherence to godly values. Going back to my experiences with the church as described in the Introduction, you will note that a church that had integrity would have not done what was done to me. A church with integrity would have informed me of their plans instead of leaving me hanging wondering what was going on. A church with integrity would have been honest and frank with me instead of going behind my back to do something that they had asked me to do.
Integrity is a very important attribute for an organization and therefore its people. The integrity of an institution or organization is only as great as the leaders of that organization and the overall people of that organization. We will talk more about this later.
What is faithfulness? The word faithfulness means to be steadfast in affection or allegiance: Loyal. It means to be firm in adherence to promises or in observance of duty: conscientious. A faithful person is one that keeps his or her word. People tend to rely upon, believe, and trust someone that they know is faithful. For example, if a faithful person says that he or she will pick you up at 7:00 then you will be ready at that time because you know that he or she is faithful to his or her word. If a faithless person tells you the same thing then you already know in advance that he or she will probably be late. We already saw that faithfulness is one of the attributes of the Spirit.
Consider the following scripture, which relates both faithfulness and integrity.
The simple message that Jesus relays here is that we should be as good as our word. It shouldnt be necessary to swear on this or that. It should only be necessary to say the word and have that to be reliable enough. However, since people tend to lack integrity and faithfulness, they turn to swearing in order to boost the reliability of their words in your mind. How many times have someone said, "I promise. I swear Ill do it." That is an indication that first, the person is not reliable and normally does not keep their word and second, the person knows that you dont believe what he or she said because he or she has already demonstrated that their words are not reliable.
Many To One
One very important thing to remember is that a church organization is only as faithful as its leaders and its members. It is only as faithful as the leaders because they administer the organization and set the standards, morals, and ethics of that organization. It is only as faithful as the people of the organization because the leaders will tend to cater to what the people want or expect. People of integrity usually demand leadership of integrity. Faithful people will tend not to tolerate faithless leaders and will either find another church (or organization) or demand new leadership.
Here is the million-dollar question. Are you a person of integrity and faithfulness? Do people tend to believe what you say? Here are some things that you can use to discern your own level of integrity.
What if all Christians generally demonstrated a level of integrity and faithfulness? What if Christians generally had a reputation of being truthful and people of their word instead of "goody two shoes" or "Jesus freaks?" Christians, and therefore the church organization, do not have this reputation, which is disturbing. If you find that you are not a faithful person or a person of integrity then you are indeed part of the problem. If you find that you are a reliable person and one with integrity then you are part of the true standard.
Is Jesus faithful? Did Jesus Christ demonstrate integrity? Yes he did. Arent we supposed to be ambassadors for Christ? Arent we supposed to be developing into the image of Christ? What happened then? The problem is that Christians are not faithful and lack integrity so the church organization is faithless and have little integrity at least as perceived by the world (and rightly so).
The problem is people. People lack integrity and faithfulness and therefore so does the church. It is not uncommon to assume that a church service will start late. It is not uncommon to assume that people will show up for church late. Yet these same people will get to work early. Why? It is due to lack of true built-in integrity and faithfulness. If they are late for work consistently then they could eventually lose their job. They have something to lose. However, arriving at church on time is not a priority. A person of true integrity would be ashamed to be late or feel very uncomfortable being late. However, I have found that many people see nothing peculiar about arriving thirty minutes late for something, even if they specified a time that they would arrive. I tend to use tardiness in my examples a lot because I find that most people tend to be late. It is unusual to meet a person that respects other peoples time enough to be prompt.
The solution is simple! Let your light shine. Thats all that we have to do. However, we must have this light before we can let it shine. This means that we must possess the Spirit of God before that Spirit can shine from within. A person with true godly character is one to admire. Unfortunately they are far and few in between. We have to first realize that what we do and how we live has an impact on others. The world is constantly watching us and passing judgment. Let them see us as people of integrity and faithfulness. At the very least we should indeed be people of integrity and faithfulness. Only then will the churches and church organizations have integrity and faithfulness. Only then can churches and religious organizations be true lights to the world. The light that they emanate is due to the light coming from the individual constituents. Be a part of the solution. Live a lifestyle that is indeed Christ-like and not just in word. Let your life shine that people will see Christ. Let the church organization be an institution that people want to be a part of so that they can experience the aura of trust and faith. Faith is in deeds and not in lip service. Consider the following scripture.
Being a Christian is more than just going to church and repeating all of the nice clich s. It is a lifestyle. The Christian faith necessitates people of integrity and faithfulness because God has integrity and is faithful. God, as a matter of fact, is the standard of integrity and the utmost example of faithfulness. God does what he says he will do and his attributes are consistent and good according to his own word.
Paul gave a profound statement, which follows.
Paul says to follow his example as he follows the example of Christ. However, in order for us to do this we must know the example that Christ gave us so that we know that Paul is following it. Therefore, we too must follow the example of Christ so that we can live in Him.
Integrity and faithfulness starts with the individual. You may have to break old habits, such as tardiness, however it is part of the growing experience in Christ. Repent now and live according to the lifestyle that is demanded by the Christian faith. We are not to live like everyone else. We are a peculiar people who belong to God.
The Failed Church
I have heard people say that the church organization, not to be confused with the body of Christ, has failed. I am one of them. I believe that the church organization has failed in its mission. However, there are still people of the Body of Christ, the true church, that stand for integrity and faithfulness. There are still people that stand for truth and promote such. There are still beacons of light in the world showing the world the way to Christ. The church is not the example that the world has to see Christ. The example must come from you and me if indeed we are part of the solution. The example that the world needs to see must come from the true disciples of Christ (those who are seeking truth).
The church organization is obsessed with riches, power, and control. The word of God is becoming increasingly absent within it. The church has become an institution of functions, services, and events and little for the spread of the word of God even to those who are already born again. The church is not the light, though there are still great churches in existence today.
Churches have little integrity because the people have little integrity. Therefore, in order for the failed church to be revived, the people must be revived. This doesnt imply a revival service. I am talking about changed lives. People that decide to live with integrity and faithfulness so that the world will see the church as being one with integrity and faithfulness.
Are you a person of integrity and faithfulness? If not then all you have to do is repent and live in faith and integrity according to the fruits of the Spirit.
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