Most of us have seen the video of Eddie Long being “crowned king” at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church this past Sunday by Rabbi Ralph Messer. If you missed it, click here.
At first glance, I said “this is some foolishness. Might as well call him Baal.”
But after watching the video three times, making note of what the Rabbi spoke, there are some things to consider.
Now, you have to understand that in the Jewish faith, they believe the Torah (the first five books of the bible) through and through. They understand God’s law, they believe that it works, and they understand the power of their words. There is probably no other group of people who know their religion and see it work in their favor more than the Jews.
Like many others, I got to feeling some kind of way when the Rabbi called Long a “king” and elevated him in the air like King Xerxes from the film 300. Cinematically, it painted an ugly, pompous picture of an embattled preacher. Visually, it was not a good look. AT ALL.
There are some things that need to be established before I go on into my stance on this thing:
1. Receiving a tallit (prayer shawl), scroll, and a Aaronic, Abrahamic, or other blessing is VERY biblical. No question.
2. Elevating a man to a “king” has some spiritual truths as we are all made in God’s image and reign as Jesus does, SPIRITUALLY. Yep.
What I think has us all upset about what we saw on that video was the literal elevation of Eddie Long by four men while his congregants cheered him on victoriously. What we saw was a man who has spent many years laden in scandal — from money to sex with young men — you name it. What we saw with our natural eyes was a man who really doesn’t deserve the praise and accolades and blessing the Rabbi was speaking over his life. We don’t want him to win. We don’t want him to rule. We don’t want him to be king of anything because the collective we says he doesn’t deserve it.
What the Rabbi did for Eddie Long Sunday, however, was give him a spiritual ranking in his own “house” or church (since it doesn’t seem like he’s actually stepping out of the pulpit anytime soon) and, as the Rabbi said, “This will arouse the realm of death or the realm of life.” The Rabbi understood the power of his words, and in many ways, set some positive things in motion for Long, New Birth, and their congregants.
Did you know the Greek word for “king” as used in Revelation 17:14 is BASILEUS, the same name many organizations give their presidents (think Divine 9)? “King”, as defined in that same scripture (where Jesus is named King of kings and Lord of lords), is leader of the people, prince, commander, lord of the land, king.
Okay, I’m back.
Spiritually speaking, there was nothing “wrong” with what the Rabbi did or said… except the raising of that chair.
The danger in the literal elevation of Long in that seat is that the young, impressionable spirits of those in the sanctuary or even those watching across the world (you know the video made it on Huffington Post, right?) can’t decipher between a physical act being representation of a spiritual occurence. Some aren’t wise enough to know that praise for a person, treating them like a god (with an intentional lowercase “g”) is not God’s will for us. (Exodus 20:3) This is probably what bothers me (if anything) the most about what we saw.
Here’s the definitive:
Even deeper than the disdain some of us have for Long is the realization that we don’t really believe in the law of grace and mercy. We (especially the Christ believing folk) don’t think redemption is available for folks like Long. Maybe if he played football, did a jail stint, and had the highest rushing yards for a quarterback…?
We will probably never know what Long did with those men behind closed doors (I have my own speculations). And once I get out of my feelings and personal dislike for shady people whose disobedience can shake the very core of someone’s beliefs, if Long repented to God for his sins and TURNED AWAY from that sinful life, he is now in right standing with God, redeemed, and made an heir to the throne.
“Repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance.” — Acts 26:20
Repentance is best defined as “a change of mind that leads to a change of action – Source (Matt. 3:8)
At the end of the video, the Rabbi said, “It’s a new start! It’s a new birth!” (pun intended, I’m sure). This, my friends is what relationship with Christ is all about.
We mess up. Real big. Luckily just never in the public eye, however, we mess up nonetheless.
But if we repent, change our minds that change our actions, God is faithful and just to forgive us. (1 John 1:9).
Does this mean I’m rockin’ New Birth gear and buy CDs of the sermon? No. Have no intentions to. But I do understand the spiritual implications of repentance and forgiveness.
Whether we like it or not, Long is entitled to it, just like you and I are.
When I was someone’s mistress, God forgave me.
When I was sleeping around, God forgave me.
When I was getting high, stupid drunk, God forgave me.
When I was stealing clothes out the mall (and never got caught), God forgave me.
When I was cheating the system in more ways than one, God forgave me.
When I was lying through my teeth to get by, God forgave me.
When I cussed that girl out real, real good and boasted when I was done, God forgave me.
[anybody wanna add their sins here? Oh.]
This is no defense. This is just perspective (a spiritual one) on King Eddie Long and his faithful Rabbi.
Staying grounded and forever repenting,