Bella Vista Church of Christ

LIFELINES

07/11/2018

Randall Caselman

 

Integrity - Credibility

 

  Before a car could be removed from the assembly line, it was sprayed with twenty-two pounds of water pressure to detect any leaks. The line crew discovered that too many cars were leaking at twenty-two pounds, so they reduced the water pressure to eighteen pounds and most of the leaks disappeared. However, management told them to calibrate the pressure gauge to read “twenty-two” pounds. Sound familiar? Car manufactures cheat on gas mileage estimates, Volkswagen rigged the calibration on emissions, Wells Fargo was repeatedly fined millions for creating false accounts and loan abuses.

 

  Indeed! Our world has agreed to a twenty-two pound reading even though it is a lie. One only has to read the paper, listen to the news, to know that there is a real credibility gap in our nation. Integrity is out. Lying is in. Perhaps no place can this be seen more than in our politicians. We've recently seen our Arkansas Representatives convicted of taking bribes and kickbacks. They say what we want to hear instead of truth.They have ulterior motives. Partisan politics is destroying our nation. It's a lack of integrity!

 

  But the tragic truth is that this is invading our religion. We are guilty! We're losing our credibility. We preach high ideals. We safeguard church orthodoxy. But we've reduced the pressure on ourselves to practice what we preach and what we demand be preached. Edwin White in his book, “A Sense Of His Presence,” says it well: “We’ll drive 20 miles to hear a sermon, but will not spend five minutes making its truths a part of our lives.” The Sunday morning gauge reads twenty-two pounds, but Monday through Saturday the real pressure is less than eighteen. The sad truth is that our children, our neighbors, people at work, the world, see the lie we live and they're saying “no thanks, I’m not interested in your religion, your Jesus.” What do we do? How can we restore credibility, regain our integrity?

 

Stop tampering with the gauge.

  Through Divine Revelation,God has calibrated the gauge. It's called inspiration: “Holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit” 2 Peter 1.21.All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for any good work" 2 Timothy 3.16-17. Read it. Believe it. Accept it as truth. Live it. Don’t tamper with the calibration. Amazing isn't it, that we've made the Bible say what we want it to say. Manipulation of God’s word, misuse of the Book, has caused denominationalism. Like Paul in Romans chapter four, in his argument on faith versus works, he asked the question: "What does the Scripture say?" Romans 4.3. Indeed, it's not what some preacher says, how some catechism reads, not what my church doctrine says, or some confession of faith. "What does Scripture say?" Stop fooling with the text, stop re-calibrating. Amen? 

 

Start confessing our sins.

  David said: “I have sinned against theLord” 2 Samuel 12.13. James says: “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” James 5.16.  John writes: "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" 1 John 1.9. Amazing isn't it that we no longer hear Paul say: "Do not think more highly of ourselves than we ought to–but be honest in our own evaluation" Romans 12.3. Genuine New Testament confession is humility at work. It's an admission that we see ourselves as God sees us; admitting what we are in view of God’s Word. Some of us have lost our credibility because we’re unwilling to acknowledge our sin fault. Biblical Integrity admits sin.

 

We must accept responsibility for our own behavior.

  Alcohol and drug abuse are not diseases. Sexual preferences and behavior are within our ability to control. We behave as we do because of the choices we make. God created us free moral agents. He gave us a will. We have the power to overcome our human tendencies and desires. Sin is a choice. Drunkenness, pornography, spouse and child abuse, bigotry, hate, lying, theft, gossip, jealousy, greed, etc., are choices. Close the gap. Take responsibility for who and what we are: Solomon said: "As a man thinks in his heart, so is he" Proverbs 23.7. It was Jesus who said: "From the heart the mouth speaks... Out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander" Matthew 15.18-19. James tells us that "sin is a result of our being drawn away by our own lustful thinking" James 1.14 & 15.

 

Obedience.

  Nothing speaks of religious integrity anymore than having an attitude of “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” 1 Samuel 3.9. James puts it so simply: “We must be doers of the Word, not hearers only. Faith without works is dead… Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” James 1.22 & 2.17-18. Our children and neighbors know Biblical principles, and they’re watching to see if we live Bible, if we live out what we know. When we do, that’s credibility! Integrity! It's interesting to note that Solomon said: "A truly righteous man walks in integrity... Blessed are his children who walk after him!" Proverbs 20.7.

 

  The gauge reads twenty-two pounds. Do we change the calibration or adjust our life? It’s up to each of us individually. We must calibrate life to the Word, confess our faults, take the responsibility for who and what we are, and be obedient, only then will Jesus truly be seen in us. Amen?

 

—Randall Caselman