“Religion, spirituality and theology tend to be destructive when they’re not drenched in humility and love.”
Last year I gave myself permission to be a bit more critical in my writing.
Slightly more defensive.
A tad more… how do I put this?… self-righteously-jerkish.
Somehow my heart believed the lie (again), “You are right on this one,” “You definitely understand Jesus,” “Truth is on your side.”
And in the belief of such stupidity, I became what I was mostly writing against.
A stone thrower.
One of those.
One who is happy to discredit and dishonor another human being, just because they (think, act, preach, sin) differently to me.
Seems like the easiest thing in the world is to lose self-awareness; to be blinded by pride. And that is why we need friends, and pastors, and sometimes, critics and enemies. They remind us of our weakness and invite us back to a place of humility.
Two of my leaders approached me then. They challenged some of my writings and ideas. Honestly, I was ready to hear their points of view, but I wrongly anticipated that they wanted to control my content… however, they did exactly the opposite.
They loved me through disagreements. They called me to a higher place. They invited me back to the message of grace.
And I am grateful for their fathering.
“Leaders who can’t be questioned, end up doing questionable things.” Jon Acuff
I re-learned something in those meetings: leaders are in need of correction, but that is always done in the context of relationship. Because if there is no relationship, then we have not earned the right to correct.
That is what my friends did to me, and that is what I should have done to others.
You see, I love the church. I believe in the church. I serve the church. And because of that, I also challenge the church with the words of Jesus.
But that gives me no authority to discredit other leaders in the body of Christ directly.
So I deny the self-imposed-jurisdiction to call them out through this platform. I need the gospel just as much as the people I preach the gospel to.
Leaders, sinners, theologians and misfits; we all need each other and we all need God’s grace. And the reminder from Paul is to “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2
I started this blog in an effort to tell the broken to have hope, and to tell the church to throw less stones.
Yet somehow, while trying to do both, I lost hope and I picked up some rocks.
I’m not planing on going back and correcting the posts that were written in moments of anger or frustration. I’m not erasing the articles that carry hints of judgments and/or theological miscommunications.
I choose to leave my errors in the light.
And I will let God cover me in the light.
I trust the Holy Spirit with my reputation and I pray for wisdom to learn properly from my mess ups. I believe in learning out loud, and I believe in embracing a journey full of detours. Because we can either be ashamed of our errors, or we can learn from them. We can focus on our mistakes, or we can celebrate the Cross. We can be truthful in our questions, or be pretenders in our assertions.
Most of my writings are internal wrestling matches that get 900 words of your attention. Nothing I say here is the gospel truth (except when I actually quote Jesus in the gospel truth).
So I ask your forgiveness for the times I nudge you to judge the church as oppose to love it more. I repent for judging styles and denominations, for criticizing leaders in different organizations.
And I repent for throwing stones.
To fix the problem of the church being too judgmental towards the world, we cannot become too judgmental towards the church. The “right” judgments won’t fix anything, trusting God with His people will.
This works both ways: “If your theology makes you feel superior to others, rethink your theology.”
Because heaven’s perspective is seeing Jesus in the rich tele-evangelist as much as we see Him in the poorest immigrant (and vice versa).
There is no us or them. There is no less or more. There is us (the broken) and there is Christ (salvation).
Jesus is still saying, “He who is free of sin, throw the first stone.”
One generation wants Him to throw stones at sinners.
Another generation wants Him to throw stones at church leaders.
Yes, for 2,000 years sinful/holy men have kept trying to get Jesus to throw a stone. And even though He’s the only one free from sin, He never will.
So I’ll leave you with this quote by Gene Edwards from the masterful book, A Tale Of Three Kings (a book I find myself reading every other year),
“Any young rebel who raises his hand against a Saul, or any old king who raises his hand against an Absalom, may-in truth-be raising his hand against the will of God.”
Let’s repent our way into the Father’s will. Let’s forgive the leaders we have judged. Let’s stop being stone throwers and critics. Let’s challenge the church to a higher standard of grace.
And let it start with us, today.
+ This is an excerpt from my new book Drop The Stones. Pre-order now:
* So, have I got you thinking? Do you agree or disagree? As always, please leave your comment below (even if it is a light “stone throwing” comment!)