Stealing the Church

Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.” Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell; nor let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer. Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall. – 1 Corinthians 10:6-12.

Pastor Randall Radic, or should I say, former pastor, is going to prison for 18 months for…stealing the church and…the parsonage! Radic is 53-years-old and had been the pastor of a church in Ripon, California for almost ten years prior to this major misstep in his ministry career. How much did he get for the church? $525,000, which it is believed he used in part to buy a BMW. The parsonage was not sold but he did forge documents so that he could obtain loans with the house as collateral. Radic was facing nine years in prison on 10 counts but he was given a plea bargain, which he is taking.

Not knowing anything about former pastor Radic you would have to assume since he had pastored the same church for nearly ten years that he had performed well for some period of time. What caused him to change? What caused him you could say to go off the deep end? We could ask the same thing about an Oklahoma pastor who was arrested recently. He was a leader in his denomination. But it is not just men, the young, or the middle aged that cross the line from God’s side to the other side. A 65-year-old church secretary has confessed in Arkansas to setting several fires that burned her church. The woman had worked at the church for a number of years and her pastor was completely surprised that she would do such a thing.

My point, and I believe the point the apostle Paul is making too is that we will never become so perfect as to be immune from temptation, or the deceptions of the enemy and the world. At least not while we are walking around down here on Planet Earth. Paul gives a rendition of the failures of the children of Israel and says that these are examples for us. Examples of what? Examples of what not to do. It is a warning that we are all capable of such things and sums it up by saying, “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall.”

The Apostle does give us some hope in the next verse that we can do better, that we do not have to succumb to these temptations and snares. In 1 Corinthians 10:13 he says, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

You see we do not really have to sell the church, or mortgage the parsonage, or burn the church, or engage in unlawful immoral acts. There would have been a way out for those who have done these things and there is a way out for those of us who are tempted. God will provide a way. He will provide the strength (Philippians 4:13).

Let us pray for those who have succumbed to temptation and let it be an example to us that we “take heed lest (we) fall.”

(As Christians we will always have to maintain a watch against the deceptions and temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil.)

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