Can we stand yet another post on the James MacDonald debacle?
I first watched a video of James MacDonald teaching back in 2010. He was a mighty fine speaker: eloquent, passionate, and well-prepared. He had charisma and humor, to boot. He loved the Word of God.
He seemed so much like so many other charming and well-spoken pastors with big names and bigger platforms, thanks to publishers driven to capitalize on their books and social media outlets that stand in as a worldwide pulpit. Less like shepherds, more like celebrities.
Power trips and the root of it all, pride, are the tip of the iceberg according to insiders. Honestly, I wish the festering pimple would just pop so we could have it all out and be done with it, swabbing the whole mess with a gigantic cotton ball soaked in alcohol.
Or the gospel.
Because, see, that’s what’s been missing for a long, long time. Back when he began, back when I heard him speak, back when he was running an organization that touched the lives of thousands all over the world, I can believe that the gospel was the goal. But as the personality and the ego begins to serve one person—James MacDonald— the gospel becomes painfully absent from the mission. Oh, it might take the forefront in word, but in heart, it becomes, shall we say, nonattendant.
The gospel that reminds us of Whose we are and what He did for us. The gospel that reminds us that God is more than enough, that Jesus paid it all and declared “It is finished”, and that what He did was more important than what we do. The gospel that reminds us that we don’t have to go anywhere else to look for our value, worth, acceptance, or fulfillment.
That’s what James MacDonald forgot, and I am just like him. Because I, too, leave the gospel behind daily in my quest to feel accepted. I have to remind myself of the finished work of Christ on my behalf daily, hourly. I have to bask in the love of a God who cannot ever fail to love me.
So really, we’re not so different, James and I. Perhaps now that he’s left with a deep, hemorrhaging, gaping, festering wound, he’ll remember why he loved Jesus in the first place. It may mean isolation and a profound loss of relationships and at the very least, the complete collapse of that pathetic little empire he built apart from the gospel. But that would be the greatest thing James could ever do in his life. Return to Jesus and be filled up with Jesus’ value and worth and significance. It’s all about Jesus.
Because empires built on anything less than the gospel aren’t worth the tiny men who’ve slaved tirelessly to erect them. In the end, what they had put up as a prop for their own inadequacies fails them miserably, and they become slaves to the very things they might have used to point people to Jesus instead of themselves.
The gospel. That’s what James forgot.
By the way, if this article sounds familiar to you, it’s probably because you read my post called What Doug Phillips Forgot or heard our podcast episode called What Josh Duggar Forgot. James MacDonald shares a lot of company, unfortunately. Us, too.
If you happen to be one of those Christian leaders who find yourself increasingly all about yourself, find a place to start here: In Light of Fallen Men: How Christian Leaders Can Avoid the Abyss.