When Our Champions Become Our Idols
UPDATE Sept 2021: I have come to believe that Jeff Crippen does not practise what he preaches. He vilely persecuted an abuse victim and spiritually abused many other people in the Tillamook congregation. Go here to read the evidence. Jeff has not gone to the people that he spiritually and emotionally abused. He has not apologised to them, let alone asked for their forgiveness.
1 Samuel 17:47-51, “and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD’s, and he will give you into our hand.” (48) When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. (49) And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground. (50) So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. (51) Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.”
David’s notoriety in Israel began that day he defeated the giant. Could anyone have set up a more dramatic, virtually “Hollywood” script? Insurmountable odds. A young shepherd boy with a, what? Slingshot? All eyes of both sides looking on. And the giant goes down. Incredible. David became a champion in Israel. Of him they would one day be singing, “Saul has killed his thousands, and David his tens of thousands!”
But champions can become idols. We know they have been idolized by us when they can do wrong, and still be followed. It happened to David –
2 Samuel 11:2-7, “It happened, late one afternoon, when David arose from his couch and was walking on the roof of the king’s house, that he saw from the roof a woman bathing; and the woman was very beautiful. (3) And David sent and inquired about the woman. And one said, “Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite?” (4) So David sent messengers and took her, and she came to him, and he lay with her. (Now she had been purifying herself from her uncleanness.) Then she returned to her house. (5) And the woman conceived, and she sent and told David, “I am pregnant.” (6) So David sent word to Joab, “Send me Uriah the Hittite.” And Joab sent Uriah to David. (7) When Uriah came to him, David asked how Joab was doing and how the people were doing and how the war was going.”
The champion David had become an adulterer and a murderer. Did he really think he could get away with it? To what degree had the worship of his people played into all of this?
The Bible-believing, conservative Christian church is guilty of worshiping champions. I am guilty of it, and so are you. Men and women have been raised up by the Lord and used in some very good ways among us. They have been zealous for truth in the face of its denial. They have been courageous. We have been thankful for them. We have listened to their sermons. We have gone to their seminars. We have purchased their books and been blessed.
And we have worshiped them.
Our champions have become our idols, and as fallible men they are destined to err. When they do, those who worship them are loathe to acknowledge it. We make excuses for them. Their image falls over and the hands bust off. We super glue them back on and set them back upright. We cover for them. When the world points out their errors, we still stand with our champions. “What cracks?” we ask in our denial.
And when they fall, we fall with them. The name of Christ is slurred.
We must repent of this celebrity worship. We desperately need to heed the angel’s words to Joshua (this angel was actually probably the pre-incarnate Christ) –
Joshua 5:13-15, “When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” (14) And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” (15) And the commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.”
Whose side is the Lord on? Is He a democrat or a republican, a Baptist or a Presbyterian? Those are the wrong questions to ask. The Almighty need not take sides, and He will not be subject to our interrogation. The question is, are we on HIS side? It is well past time for us all to take off our sandals, bow down, repent of our man-worship, and realize we stand in the presence of the Holy One.
Lord, tell us what to do. Perhaps some of your people are just starting to listen to You.