This puts the call on every well-known pastor, every high-demand conference speaker, every bestselling author, to see their popularity as sacred, to see their integrity as essential, to know the importance of battling hard against the first stirrings of the least sin. For they must know that the destruction that would come with their fall would be far greater than all the good they ever did in their rise.
It happens often—too often—in the Christian world. Another celebrity preacher, celebrity author, celebrity speaker, is exposed as a hypocrite, as one who takes advantage of position and prominence to pursue not heavenly rewards, but fleshly lusts, fading treasures, or fleeting power. When yet another one is exposed, it is like a huge boulder is dropped into an otherwise still pond. There is a great splash, a great disturbance, a great series of ripples that flow outward, until the whole body of water has been disturbed.
At the very center, in the place of greatest disruption, greatest danger, and greatest pain, are the people who were harmed most seriously and most directly—victims who were taken advantage of, marks who were defrauded, followers who were trampled underfoot. Unless family members served as accessories to the crimes or misdeeds, they too are victims of the celebrity’s lust, greed, or god complex. It is these people who feel the greatest wave of disbelieving pain and sorrow, who are most harmed, most hurt, most damaged, most worthy of our sincere sympathy.
But, tragically, the harm does not end with them, for the ripples flow always outward. Though the force of the waves may lessen as they go, they are still plenty strong enough to rock and even upset the faith of those who encounter them. Here we find people who looked up to that celebrity, those who read the books and listened to the sermons, whose minds were shaped, whose hearts were formed.