Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Falwell Receives His Praise

Jerry Falwell passed away today. Right now, he's in heaven, looking into the face of Jesus and seeing the beauty that every single one of us has longed for since our birth. He stands today before His Maker and is giving an account for his life. And today, he receives his perfect reward.

There are many of us who disowned him as a brother, despised him as a fundamentalist and were embarrassed by his witness. There are others who were grateful to have an uncompromising advocate for Christian values in the political arena. I have been strangely both at the same time. At times, I've been frustrated that he and the brand of Christianity he represented was of little help, at times a hindrance, to my unbelieving friends seeing Jesus for who He really is. At other times I've been quietly grateful, because as anyone who is politically center-left or center-right knows (I am center-right, a passionately moderate conservative), it is those who are on the radical extremes of the spectrum who keep the agenda leaning in our favor.

But what I felt or thought about Falwell is useless. I am not his judge. Paul tells us in 1 Cor 4 that no one is his judge, not even himself. He says a scary thing when he says even his conscience is clear, but that it doesn't necessarily make him innocent. Paul exhorts us to judge nothing before the appointed time, but to wait when each will receive his praise from God. But until that time no one can say for sure. Who knows, at this very moment God could be judging Falwell to have done everything God called him to do. At this very moment, he could be hearing, "well done, good and faithful servant, come and share in your Master's happiness." And as you take your next breath, brother Jerry could be basking in the speechless satisfaction of knowing that he pleased God fully with his life. Who knows? My judgments are meaningless.

Today, as I pray for Falwell's family, friends, and church, I also reflect on my own life, and on questions that are hard for a confessing people-pleaser like myself to answer: Am I living to please a lesser judge? Or am I living to please the only Judge that can give me my praise at the appointed time? Could I live with the hatred of the whole world to feel His pleasure? Would I freely trade in the acceptance of my family, friends, other christians, for God's reward?

Wait till the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of men's hearts. At that time each will receive his praise from God. -1 Cor 4:5


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