Archive for August, 2011
Over the past weeks and months there have been several “let me fix you” drubbings in the evangelical blogosphere over theological issues. In response, I would like to offer some thoughts.
First, in the words of Bob Newhart, “Stop it!…Just stop it!”
Second, maybe these interactions could happen behind closed doors more often. It seems that Christ said something about going in private to a brother that has offended you. Maybe we should actually try that. Seems like we are also supposed to be about encouraging one another as the day approaches when we meet together. Going out on a limb here, I am going to offer that our responsibility as leaders is not to rip somebody a new one in public which I think would include the blogosphere, the twitters and any other social networking hot spot.
Third, consider the context. Isolating a sentence or a paragraph out of the whole of a talk or a book and measuring the whole of the talk or the book based on a single passage is poor form at best. A journalist that reviews books based on the copy on the back of the book or the introduction would lose their job rather quickly. As people that are to have integrity, we would do well to review a book or critique a work only after we have reviewed it thoroughly. Better yet, we would do well to read multiple books from the author we are taking to task in addition to the questionable material to put the whole into an even larger context. At times people may say something stupid–I have on a number of occasions. Also, I’ve expressed myself poorly a number of times as I’m sure we all have. Further, I have many times been communicating with someone that did not understand the whole of the conversation as they could not see anything beyond their own paradigm. Each of these miscommunication issues would be improved if the listener seeks to understand through a larger context.
Fourth, back off on the theological certainty. Let us “know Christ.” We should be about trying to comprehend just a little bit more of the height, depth and width of His love. We can’t understand it fully in the here and now. For the person who thinks they understand God fully, I encourage a re-reading of Habakkuk. If that doesn’t make you scratch your head in wonder then either you are way super smart or you aren’t really being honest. I would guess the second, but allow that the first may be possible. If you fall into the first, then go get completely comfortable with Ezekiel–and good luck.
Fifth, if nothing else, consider a helping of mercy and grace in your thoughts and speech. When I lack these, I usually end up looking like an idiot. Thankfully this happens less frequent than it used to. Still, these are things I need more of in my life. I suggest probably we all do.
Sixth, we are to be about His glory, not ours. If ever there were an occasion where we were attacking in the blogosphere for the purpose of increasing visibility or readership then it would be about the glory of me rather than the One who is actually worthy.
Finally for this post, let’s focus on what is important. When we are spending time and energy arguing with each other, we are not spending that time and energy on making disciples. Maybe we can “put aside some of the things that hinder and the sin that so easily entangles so we can run with perseverance.” I remember reading that once and thinking that was some pretty good teaching so I thought I would include it here.
Late last night I saw a voice mail from a neighbor that said “we have big problems.” He wanted me to call him back. Instead, I walked next door to his house.
The short version of the story is the father who phoned and his oldest son were fighting. They didn’t see a way out except for the son to move out and for there to be a permanent break in their relationship. We talked for some time about life and about God’s forgiveness. After that, they humbled themselves and asked for forgiveness for all of the stuff they had been doing to each other. That humility thing was not easy. It is hard for all, and definitely hard for the people among whom we live. I was amazed at the beauty of a reconciled relationship. God was clearly at work.
So after a late night last night, I rolled out of bed somewhat early this morning to let the dog out and have our morning ritual of giving her food and water and have a few rounds of fetch. (Usually she brings me the frisbee, sometimes I take it to her.) While out there, my neighbor starts whistling at the missional pooch. Then he and I begin talking and he asks me to come over to chat. When I arrive on his back porch there is another man there waiting on me.
“You are a man of God?” he asked. OK, that was a first for me. It seemed like a frightening question for so many reasons. Based on his dress, I could not tell if he was a preacher or a businessman. Based on his leadoff question I guessed wrong, but it wasn’t important. The only answer I could give in those circumstances was “yes, i am.” Then he started to tell his story. Well, the story is not appropriate for family reading, but he was asking for help. We talked about a prodigal son who returned to be graciously received by a loving, forgiving father. We talked about the Savior and about giving our life to Him. No sooner had I offered that we could pray than he was on his knees on rough concrete steps on the patio in slacks and a tie. I knelt in my PJ shorts and t-shirt while my neighbor knelt behind us in his normal painters garb.
This man cried out to God. Tears and snot were in abundance–yes, that tie will be ready for retirement before another wearing. When we finished praying, he shared about the deep shame he felt for the first time ever. He continued to be hunkered down, humbled before God. I am humbled and rejoicing.
God is moving here among our people.