What goes through your mind when you hear the names Shepherd Bushiri, Mary Bushiri and Tim Omotoso? From Wikipedia, we find the following:
Shepherd Huxley Bushiri, also known as Major 1 or Prophet Shepherd Bushiri, is a Malawian Christian preacher, motivational speaker, author and businessman from Malawi. He founded and leads a Christian non-denominational charismatic evangelical church known as the Enlightened Christian Gathering based in South Africa.
He and his wife Mary were arrested for money laundering and when let out on bail fled to their home country of Malawi.
Tim Omotoso is the senior pastor of Jesus Dominion International, based in Durban, South Africa. He is currently in prison and on trial at the Port Elizabeth high court for rape and human trafficking. He is alleged to have groomed his victims and began molesting them from the age of 14.
Although these are household names for their alleged crimes … they are also “pastors”. They are men who are supposed to teach God’s Word and preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. In both cases, the alleged crimes cast doubt over their compatibility with the Bible because the Bible speaks against theft (money laundering) and sexual immorality (sexual grooming, molestation, rape and human trafficking). If the truth be said, this is the tip of the iceberg across the planet with men and women charading as pastors (so called prophets and prophetesses), sent from God to bless people. The question that presents itself is one of “Gospel integrity”. Now think of the Bible and what it is. The Bible itself informs us that it is God’s Word and if a preacher conducts his affairs in the name of Jesus, who is the Word of God (John 1:1; 14), he must do his business according to the Bible, which itself is the Word of God:
2 Tim 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.
2 Pet 1:20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
For these two “pastors” we need to ask whether they have Gospel integrity, because if they have, they would not have been arrested, they would not have fled the country and the Christian Church would not have been discredited once again.
So, because one cannot divorce the Word (Jesus) from the Word (Scriptures), if I say I am loyal to God it means I am loyal to His Word, the Scriptures! It means that what The Word says I follow obediently. When it prohibits certain things, labeling them sin, wickedness and evil, I must avoid these. When it says I need to do certain things such as follow separateness, holiness and righteousness, I need to do everything within my human ability, with the help of God’s Divine Holy Spirit to maintain Gospel integrity.
Failure here means to be disloyal to the Word and in turn be disloyal to God Himself. Think of what the Word of God is for a moment … it is the mind, thoughts, commands, instructions and will of the Almighty God. This is not trivial because the Bible is nothing other than God’s character and personality on display. What you do to the Bible you are doing to God. It is a serious matter … a very serious matter!
This is why Gospel integrity is so important. This is the reason you need to consider most carefully a church’s doctrinal position and statement of faith before you join up. It does not matter how nice and friendly and loving people are. It does not matter how welcome they make you feel. It does not matter how clean and decent they come across … it’s all about what they do with the Word, because what they do with the Word will tell you what they are doing with God. You can’t separate the two. They are conjoined twins!
When Jenny and I met a friend for lunch on Monday, we used the outside seating. After about a half hour, a lady sat down at the table across from me. Soon another lady joined her. As lunchtime came closer, the restaurant filled up. Soon one table was left outside and two ladies came along and were ushered to the empty table which was right next to where the other two ladies were seated. There were two chairs at this table. One lady pulled out the chair next to the lady who arrived last at the other table. She did not touch her although it was close. That is where her seat was and she had no option but to sit there. The lady who arrived last at the other table turned around and gazed with anger in her eyes. She was clearly upset because of the close proximity of the lady who sat behind her. The strange thing is that once this lady’s chair was pulled back towards the table you could walk between the two ladies … yet the angry lady continued to look backwards with daggers in her eyes. What she did was display her character and personality to everyone who saw her behaviour. My point is this, where there is no Gospel integrity, this is how people behave.
What does Gospel integrity mean? “In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word translated ‘integrity’ means ‘the condition of being without blemish, completeness, perfection, sincerity, soundness, uprightness, wholeness.’ Integrity in the New Testament means ‘honesty and adherence to a pattern of good works.’” (gotquestions.org). Perhaps two verses to motivate pastors and all Christians towards Gospel Integrity are:
Col 3:17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Ac 5:29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men!”
Obedience to God is obedience to His Word, resulting in doing and speaking and thinking everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to the Father because of whom He is and what He has done for us for all eternity!
Majestic God, please help me to think before I act so that whatever I do I’ll do with Gospel integrity. Amen.