This post is more personal than that of the standard fare here at .info but I think there are some applicable learnings for current affairs buzzing in the blogosphere.
I’ve been estranged from my family (mom, step-dad, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc…) for the better part of 9 years. Without giving all of the details; suffice it to say I did many things wrong as a teenager and my parents did many things wrong as parents. Neither party was able to forgive. Because of the strain I chose to close off communication. One time about 5 years ago I did contact my Mom in an attempt to live out the verse “As much depends on you be at peace with all people”. In a God given moment of humility I was able to say “Please forgive me” to which my Mom responded with “You’ve made your bed now lie in it” and slammed down the phone. In that moment, having honored God with his command to seek forgiveness, I had peace. The bridge to my family wasn’t reopened that day but I continued to trust that “All things work to the good for those of love Christ”.
Fast Forward 4 years. This past Christmas I received a Christmas card in the mail from my Aunt. Stunned that I got a Christmas card from her I didn’t open it. My wife however did. Inside was a personal note that read “We miss you guys being a part of the family give us a call. P.S. (my cousin) is getting married in May and she would love for you guys and the girls to come” My immediate response was I’m not going to the wedding. I questioned everything… “Who’s gonna be there”; “What’s their motivation for inviting me”; “What if so and so is there”; etc…
But then God began to nudge me. He reminded me of the call of a Christian. We are to be ministers of reconciliation; by our Love they will know us; as much depends on you be at peace with all people; Bless those who curse you. On and on scripture came in rapid fire pattern until I was literally on my knees humbled by the words of my Savior. Now I knew I had to go to that wedding to honor God and the commitment I made to follow him wherever leads.
Recently Saddleback Church issued personal notes to those in the blogosphere that have been most critical of what Rick Warren is doing; inviting them to a future conference. To say that this has caused a little questioning of motives would be an understatement. Quite frankly their (the bloggers) thoughts haven’t varied much from the thoughts that I had when I was invited to the wedding of my cousin. What is very different however is the public manner in which they are airing those thoughts.
A few weeks ago Ingrid wrote a scathing response essentially stomping on the graciousness of Rick Warren to pay for the trip. Recently Chris Rosebrough of Extreme Theology wrote a more balanced response to his invite and in fact accepted the invite. But again questioned the motives of the invitation. In fairness to Chris he has since removed that post stating “There is a commitment that I need to honor and I want to respect the wishes of my host.” Which shows character and perhaps a willingness to take a “wait and see” approach.
Others however (who haven’t received invites) have been blogging and commenting voraciously; ascribing all kinds of conspiracy theories to Rick and Co.
Purpose Drivel had this to say.
Wow. I have to wonder what the spin will be on this one. I would be torn. Do I go and let him twist the event to his own advantage? Or do I decline and let him publicly say “they wouldn’t play nice, look we even invited them for ‘dialogue’!”
I guess if I could have a recording team there to record the meeting, I would be OK with it. Then nothing could be edited for slant/spin purposes without it being exposed by the opposing team.
Jim Bublitz of Old Truth in the Extreme Theology comments (the old post)
I‘ve been hearing about all of the invites to this event for the past week and have wondered what’s really behind it all. Is Warren finally starting to see that the blog world is a great detriment to his methods, and this is his way of doing damage control? Surely he’s not naive enough to imagine that he’s going to change the minds of people like you and Pastor Bob DeWaay who is also there and has written a book against Warren’s teachings. Or maybe Warren thinks he’s going to shower you with gifts and kill you with kindness (so to speak) to the point where you are going to think of him as “Uncle Rick” from now on; somebody you just can’t speak poorly about. I just don’t know, but will be interested in your opinions. It just doesn’t make sense.
You’re right Jim; it doesn’t make sense. Why would Rick Warren a heretic invite a fringe group of malcontents to a conference on his dime. I suspect because Rick is wise enough to understand that the caricatures we have in our heads (heretics and malcontents) vary widely from the reality of who people are in real life. Communication is the only thing that will close that gap. Which is exactly what I experienced at my cousins wedding.
Most of my relatives (sans my mom and step-dad) were gracious and affirming of me. Many were able to see the change (Christ) in my life and I was able to say to them that I am where I am today because of Christ. It was a powerful night and my wife, kids, and me were able to witness to my family the grace of Christ. On a very personal note I got to see my Grandfather, whom I assumed was dead. I was able to introduce him to his great grand-daughters and was also able to say good bye (he has cancer and Alzheimer’s and was given only about 2 months to live). Which was a wonderful gift from God in my eyes. Plus all of the caricatures that I had of my family were shattered during the night. In my humanness I would never have expected God to be able to reconcile my family. Sure I still have room to grow and certainly the healing in my family has a long way to go but God is good and able to “work all things to good for those who love Christ”.
Maybe God is calling all of us to that higher ground. Lets not let pride, humanness, or team politics get in the way of that calling.
Grace and Peace to all.