I love The Record Keeper. I love it and I haven't even seen it. I love it because it represents so much of what I believe in. It captures my vision for relevance, for the communication of truth in the language of the culture, and it gives me hope - hope that the youth of this church are capable of finishing the work of the 3 Angels Messages.
Those who follow my blog know that I have supported The Record Keeper from the very beginning. I have shared their videos on my blog and on Facebook. I joined Save The Record Keeper when it first appeared on social media appealing to the GC that the series not be cancelled. I shared video after video and encouraged others to stand behind it. When the series was officially suspended I contacted the Biblical Research Institute (BRI) and even wrote an open letter to the BRI and GC expressing my disappointment. Since then I have continued to support Save The Record Keeper by signing and promoting petitions. I follow Jason Satterlund on YouTube and have consistently voted for The Record Keeper to receive awards. In short, I am about as pro-The Record Keeper as you can get. However, there is one step I have not and cannot support: the "leak."
Yes, The Record Keeper has been leaked. You can now watch the entire series on YouTube. But as much as I love the project, somehow I just cant bring myself to doing it. Maybe I am hypersensitive. Maybe I am overthinking it. But I am conviced that anytime we resort to the unethical to do God's work we are relying on human power to acomplish something that is beyond human. It may seem like a wonderful idea at the moment. It may even give evidence of success for some time. And in the end it may appear to have been the right thing. But a thought remains that I can't get rid of: Since when does God need human cleverness in order to accomplish his purposes?
I am reminded of Abraham who, in an attempt to do God's will, slept with Hagar in order to produce the son that God had promised. Abraham was old and Sarah, his wife, believed that God was keeping her from having children. In an attempt to do God's will they did the most logical thing they could think of. They were not being disobedient or rebelious in what they did. Instead, they were attempting to be faithful, to be a part of what God had promised, to play a role in the fulfillment of that promise, and to be committed to his will for their lives. But they became impatient and the "Hagar controversy" that followed left their family broken.
I am reminded of Jacob and Esau. Before they were born God told their mother Rebekah that she would give birth to two sons and the "older will serve the younger" (Gen. 25: 23). In a sincere attempt to bring about God's will Rebekah encouraged Jacob, the youngest, to deceive his father Isaac so that he could receive the birthright and thus fulfill God's will that the "older will serve the younger." It was not an act of rebellion that inspired this. It was an attempt to bring about Gods will, but to do so they resorted to the unethical practice of deception and the end result was a also broken family.
Then there were the Israelites who attempted to conquer the promised land against God's instructions. Perhaps they told one another that it was God's ultimate desire that they take the land, and so armed with ambition and human wisdom they went into battle and got their domes rocked. Then there was Moses who, in an attempt to do God's will and give water to the Israelites, allowed his frustration to get the best of him. As a result, he disobeyed God and was kept from entering the promised land with his people.
But there are other stories. Stories of God coming through in his way and in his time. Stories like the miraculous birth of Isaac to Abraham and Sarah when they were both well beyond child bearing age. Stories of men like Joseph who was faithful, and though it landed him in prison, it also led him to the palace. Stories of warriors like David who lived by a simple code, "that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s..." In other words - God doesn't accomplish his purposes through human power, cunning, devisings, or effort but by his own power. I am reminded of the disciples trying desperately to keep their tiny vessel affloat in a ranging river, only to have Jesus rebuke them for their lack of faith. "Peace," he said, "be still" and the storm ceased to exist. I am reminded of the zealousness of Peter as he attempted to defend Jesus with a sword and received, not an applause, but a rebuke from his dearest friend. And ultimately I am reminded of how God saved me. Not by my effort or wisdom, but by his grace.
Maybe I am way off here. But is it possible that by "leaking" The Record Keeper we are exhibiting the same impatience that led to the "Hagar" controversy? Are we embracing the same unethical worldview that Rebekah embraced when she instructed Jacob to deceive Isaac and cheat Esau out of his birthright? Is it possible that we are attempting to win a battle that God has not sent us to fight? Are we so afraid of the "prison experience" that we are using our own strength to rush us into the palace? Have we forgotten that the battle is the Lords and that he will win it in his time and in his way without our conniving methods? Are we trying so desperately to keep our church from sinking into the rivers of irrelevance and inaptedness that we have forgotten that Jesus is in the boat with us and that if we just turn to him in deep, humble faith he will calm the storm and take us safely to the other side? Have we become over zealous to the point that we are willing to wield the sword in order to defend Jesus? And worst of all, have we forgotten how God saved us? Not by our wisdom and cleverness, but by his grace.
The end result may appear to have been worth it. The leak may place the GC under so much pressure that they will decide to release the series after all. But don't be fooled - that doesn't mean it was God's doing. By leaking The Record Keeper we have violated the GC's intellectual property. We have stolen, pirated, and distributed freely that which was the property of an entity that has opted to keep it vaulted. Do I agree with the GC? No. Do I think they and the BRI made a mistake? Yes. But does that mean I should take this into my own hands and, like some sort of Jesus-vigilante, resort to the unethical simply because I think its the right thing? Not at all.
Now don't get me twisted. I am not saying we should sit back and twiddle our thumbs and simply wait for God to act. What I am saying is that until he does we should refrain from resorting to our own wisdom in order to accomplish something that I believe he will accomplish in his way and in his time. The end result of doing things our way has always been the same - God's cause suffers. And the end result of waiting on him by faith has always been the same - God's cause prospers. If the same effort, energy, and publicity that was placed into leaking The Record Keeper had been placed into signing the petition to release it (a petition which, after months of promotion, still requires over 200 signatures to be completed even though Save The Record Keeper has 3,339 likes and The Record Keeper Facebook page has 23,494 of them) perhaps this project would have been released in its intended fashion (with Bible studies to accompany the episodes) already, or at least be well on its way.
To those who have leaked the series, as we city boys say, "I feel you." You, like Abraham, Sarah and Rebekah, are ambitious, not willing to waste a moment of time and eager to see God's work move forward. But my appeal to you is this: Work within the scope that God has given us. Don't go beyond that and take matters into your own hands, for the end result, while possibly satisfying to our human hearts, will be far from what it could have been had we done God's work in God's way.
To sign the petition to release The Record Keeper click here.