by Joe McKeever
In his book Not the Way It’s Supposed to Be, Cornelius Plantinga, Jr., tells of a Wall Street Journal editorial from December 12, 1991, recounting a number of public sex scandals, such as Magic Johnson’s admission that his HIV infection was a result of promiscuous sex and William Kennedy Smith’s sordid testimony in his Palm Beach rape trial. The editor wrote, “The United States has a drug problem and high school sex problem and a welfare problem and an AIDS problem and a rape problem. None of this will go away until more people in positions of responsibility are willing to come forward and explain, in frankly moral terms, that some of the things people do nowadays are wrong.”
Plantinga says, “Remarkably, the Journal strongly implied that it was high time we got the word ‘sin’ out of mothballs and began to use it again and to mean it.”
We can add our own list to the Journal’s 1991 scandals, including most recently the Enron and WorldCom fiascos. The other day a pastor writing in his church bulletin asked, “Who are the men who led these companies?” Then he answered his own question: “Ken Lay and Bernie Ebbers are both members of outstanding Baptist churches. In fact, one of them was a Sunday School teacher.”
How are we to understand fellow Christians pulling such shenanigans with the investments—not to say the hopes and dreams and lives—of millions of citizens? Answer: it’s the old, time-encrusted custom of compartmentalizing our lives. My spiritual life occupies this corner of the house, my business life resides there, my social life here, and my family over there. Like heaven and hades, a huge gulf separates these areas, so that those who enter one section sees only a little portion of the individual, never the whole person.
The Bible calls such compartmentalization “double-mindedness.” James wrote that “a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways” and “let not that man think he shall receive anything from the Lord.” The Psalmist wrote in 119:113 “I hate those who are double-minded.” The Moffatt version of Scripture has that: “I hate men that are half and half.”
Business historians tell of John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie who destroyed the lives of untold numbers by their business practices, then turned right around and gave away truckloads of money to churches and charitable organizations. I recall a line from Nelson Rockefeller about his famous grandfather’s business practices: “He never broke any laws,” he said, “but he was the reason for a number of new laws being passed.”
The Lord must have had such bi-polar believers in mind when He said, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength.” We remember the Lord Jesus healing people with the wonderful command to “Be whole!”
Indeed. That’s the plan.
Joe McKeever is pastor of the First Baptist Church of Kenner, Louisiana.