One use of the word integrity goes like this, according to Webster, “adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty”. I like how simple this is. Based off of this definition, if we have integrity, we are moral, ethical, and honest. The other definition of the word would be pertaining to the make up of a structure. Webster says this, “a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition”, or “the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished”. Definition #1 pertains to us as human beings created by God and definition #2 pertains to something that is built, such as a building or an organization. The thing we need to see is that you do not need to have definition #1 to pursue definition #2. Nor do you have to have definition #2 to pursue definition #1. But the two can become very much confused when we are in our religious institutions. The issue at hand is that the religious institutions are pursuing structural integrity at the cost of losing ethical integrity. Pastors all over are pursuing the preservation of their church’s at any cost. They are re-enforcing the integrity of the building and the gathering and throwing out the integrity that Christ walked in and taught us to follow – to be ethical, moral, and honest. Or as Jesus put it, “Love your neighbor as yourself”. Therefore, so many people are finding themselves in man-made systems and they want out. Who can walk with God if they are following something He never intended for us to glorify and build… Definition #2?
God is good and I believe He never intended for humanity to become so wrapped up in systems, programs, organizations, and curriculum. We have come so far along in building structure to contain the responses of people, as if another person knows the direction of all people, that the life is being squeezed out and all that is left is control and manipulation. Can God work within these systems? Of course He can, but I believe the better way to say it is, “He works around the systems”. When Jesus came to love us, He did not give us a belief system but a life system that comes forth from the internal change in knowing that He is the one true God… the God that wants freedom in all of us. Freedom that comes from walking with Him, being led by the Spirit, and loving others. That’s it! Nothing else! This cannot be contained in a church organization, institution, or even a class room. Pastors cannot wield it’s power from the pulpit, or they cannot contain it and sell it. If they are, it is an imitation…not the Holy Spirit.
True integrity exists in truly loving another person. Integrity is love that encompasses ethical, moral, and honest behavior towards another person. It does not care about what can be built, sold, or preserved. Integrity cares only that God is living with them, and through His Spirit He is guiding and directing them to what is good. All good things come from God.
We all need to ask ourselves what integrity are we pursuing. Is it ethical or physical? Is it love towards another person or love of an organization or building? Is it pure motivation that is other-centered or is it selfishly motivating that causes us to see what we can gain? Church’s that are ran like a business are looking at people as a number, as a commodity for gain, or as a piece to keep the empire intact. Just remember, every empire has a dictator. Do not be fooled in thinking a church that is big, expensive , and owns a bunch of land has integrity that is ethical, moral, and honest. Also, just because a fellowship does not have “a state of being in perfect condition” does not mean they do not have true integrity. God’s church has no walls or boundaries…It is in the hearts of Christ’s followers.