My friend Gary Long* gave me permission to use a couple of paragraphs from his weekly column he calls Not a Sermon, Just a Thought. They reflect what I hope to be true and what I wish wasn't.
. . . good Christians can do and/or say destructive things while trying to please God. I have to believe that was the case when Jerry Falwell said that the terrorists attack on 9/11 was the will of God because America was disobedient. Or when Pat Robertson called for George Bush to have the Venezuelan President assassinated. Or when John Piper wrote that the tsunami of 2004 was God’s cleansing of Asia. Whether or not I want to claim them as my brothers in Christ, all three of these men are children of God and by their testimony have been saved by the grace of Jesus. So rather than point an angry finger at them for damaging the Christian witness to the culture, I am left to ponder, “What well-intended words have I chosen that cause destruction?”
. . . I’m truly skeptical of the religious experiences of others. Even after being a professional servant of the church for nearly a decade and a half, I raise an eyebrow of cynicism when I hear someone describe their burning bush to me, but I fail to see it. I internally begin to question, “Is this person for real? What is he/she trying to get from me or make me do? How much longer to lunch? What if this person is truly seized by God and speaking a message to me?” It occurs to me that as scientifically and technologically advanced as our culture is, we still have no clear means of discerning whether or not a person is a kooky fanatical or the real religious deal.
*Since Gary gave me permission, I also get to use his name!