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Israel Houghton: Is anyone good?

Last night I heard the news that Israel Houghton was divorcing from his wife of 20 years. As with most mainstream Christian ‘celebrity’ news, I found out from my fianceé (who often keeps me updated with celebrity culture) via Whatsapp.

Israel had released a public statement, where he revealed he sinned in his marriage five years ago which led to the breakdown between himself and his wife.

Earlier this morning, as the news spread around the office it was greeted with a large gasp by one of my colleagues. Israel has been on stages for many years, leading people all over the world in worship. He has done some fantastic things for God, but he is just a man, as flawed as us all. While his actions cannot be condoned, rather than react with any disdain, we should pray for him and his family that God comforts them during this time.

One of the results of the digital age is that it is easier for us to have Christians from all around the world to look up to. Whether that be pastors, music artists, historical figures or even bloggers, we all have our favourites whom we love to quote. In its plainest form, there is nothing wrong with this. When you become a Christian, it is good to have godly role models around you. This is the essence of discipleship, gaining experience from those within the faith.

Situations like this have made me see that in all the ‘good’ we see in people, we should only see God

However, there should be a limit to this, and in the modern celebrity driven culture, we can begin to hold our role models in such high esteem that we can desire to be like them, rather than like Jesus. If our heroes fall, which they often do, we find it very hard to come to terms with, as we may have inadvertently elevated them to a near infallible position in our minds. Situations like this have made me see that in all the ‘good’ we see in people, we should only see God.

In Romans chapter 3, Paul reciting the Psalms states:

“None is righteous, no, not one;
no one understands;
no one seeks for God.
All have turned aside; together they have become worthless;
no one does good, not even one.”Romans 3:10-12 (ESV)

These words may seem harsh, but they are the stark reality of our condition without God. But once we become Christians, do we then become good?

Jesus has some thoughts on this in Mark chapter 10:

‘And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.’   Mark 10:17-18 (ESV)

When the young man calls Jesus good, Jesus is quick to state that only God is good and questions why he calls him that. We know that Jesus is God, so he is most certainly good, but this should speak to us about the esteem we hold others in. If only God is good, any goodness we see others exhibit can only come from him and is to showcase his glory. 

With any role models that we may have, it is important that we remember this. When we look to them, let’s see God and all his majesty in the gifts and talents that he has given them. And if they fall, as men are likely to do, let’s not forget to pray for them to be restored, so that God can show his goodness through them again.

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