Today I would love your feedback on three questions that kept roiling my relaxation over the weekend. Of course I couldn’t think of asking three questions without a flashback to Monty Python’s Search for the Holy Grail.
Fellow Bad Christians will remember this exchange.
Arthur: There’s the old man from Scene 24!
Bedevere: What is he doing here?
Arthur: He is the keeper of the Bridge of Death. He asks each traveler five questions–
Knight: Three questions.
Arthur: Three questions. He who answers the five questions–
Knight: Three questions.
So here are my three, five, three questions. I await your wisdom.
Question Number One.
What is your favorite color?
Sorry…still in Monty Python mode. The real question relates to a post I wrote last week called Plane Speaking. It was written about the lawsuit filed against Victoria Osteen. Regular readers of these ramblings know that I am a stickler for civil discourse. So I graciously received a gentle rebuke on my thoughts from this reader.
- As a head of a nonprofit Christian ministry, I always have to temper what I would like to do as a Christian person and what my legal advisers are advising me to do as the head of the ministry. In a culture where ministries can be sued for millions of dollars, I cringe when the words lawsuit, lawyers or court are mentioned. I am not sure what is happening in this cause. So when we look on from the outside and look for statements from them saying, “please forgive me” or “I am Sorry”, we have to be aware that lawyers and the court may look at those statements quite differently. I know this puts heads of ministry in interesting situations on trying to balance their reputation, the reputation of the ministry and legal issues. I submit this with much fear and trembling at being misunderstood. I don’t think it is as easy to say that “I am wrong, I am sorry or forgive me.” On the other hand, maybe it is that easy. My heart trembles with the responsibility of Christians with such influence
I always want to be fair and grace filled in my comments. So this thoughtful response made me think that perhaps I was out of line in expecting some public statement from Mrs.Osteen. But the more I thought about that reasoning the more troubled I became. While I completely understand the fear of lawsuits (I have been threatened a time or two) I wonder if that should outweigh the fear of God? Should a legal strategy overrule an obedient response? What is our responsibility to represent the name of Jesus versus our responsibility to protect our ministry or personal assets? Have we allowed the law (in this case the lawyers and lawsuits) to keep us from extending grace? This is a larger question than the Victoria Osteen situation. I ask this with all sincerity.
What should our response be as Christians when we make a mistake (or perceived mistake) that could have legal ramifications?
Question Number Two.
I may not get a response to this one. Occasionally (depending on topics) I get visits and feedback from agnostics and atheists. The Sam Harris post brought many visitors to this site who do not believe in God. Mr. Harris often complains about the venomous response from Christians to his comments. I should let Mr.Harris know that the ugly runs both ways. I have had my intellectual capabilities questioned in some very unflattering terms by those who deny faith. But others who do not believe in God have been kind and even complimentary of the tone I try to set. I agree that it can be pretty easy to dismiss some who claim the title of Christian. Many skeptics write off faith as a crutch for the weak, uneducated, and naive. I can understand that even as I disagree. But what about those who do not fit into a category you can easily dismiss? I am genuinely interested if you (atheists/agnostics) think that all believers are delusional or intellectually inferior? There are many people of great intellect that are Christians. Many have become Christians who were not “brain-washed” as children. Millions who do not need an emotional crutch to survive well in the culture call themselves Christians. Others who have no cultural predisposition to this faith. Here is my question for those who deny faith.
Are you at all unsettled by the successful and intelligent people who endorse faith in God completely?
Question Number Three
I have been humbled and even a bit shamed by the amazing grace of the Amish victims in Pennsylvania. I wrote a post about that last week called Where do you see Jesus?
The actions of the Amish faithful this weekend again caused me to stop and examine my own commitment to Christ. Here is an excerpt from a column written by Brian Dickerson in the Detroit Free Press.
- Charles Roberts IV, who killed himself after shooting 10 helpless schoolgirls, wasn’t Amish himself. But his milk delivery route included the farms of many Amish families, including that of 13-year-old Marian Fisher, one of those killed in Roberts’ rampage. So when the Fisher family made plans for Marian’s funeral, they naturally invited her killer’s widow and children. It wasn’t an impulsive invitation, issued in a moment of vengeful anger — Come see what that monster did! — but a reflexive recognition that Roberts’ survivors, too, were part of a community in need of healing. Two days later, when the shooter’s body was laid to rest, the mourners included dozens of Amish.
I know some dismiss the Amish response as weakness. I think you could not be more wrong. Their actions reflect a strength that is incomprehensible. It takes no strength to hate. It takes incredible strength to forgive. The Amish have made a choice. They made a choice to totally commit to Christ and to one another. They made a choice to not let hate and bitterness consume them. They made a choice to reach out and show a doubting world what the love of Jesus looks like. I am ashamed when I examine my life by comparison. No more jokes about the Amish from me. The Amish may feel free to make jokes about me. I have a lot to learn about what it really means to follow Jesus.
My final question is for self-examination.
Jesus, am I really willing and ready to follow You?