So the news last week was that Josh Harris divorced and says he’s not a Christian anymore. I felt heavy hearted about it on several levels.
I want to weep at the vitriol, sarcasm, disdain, harshness toward him that rippled through social media. Sin is sin, yes, and divorce is a travesty. But is public contempt and expecting the worst of someone ever, ever, redemptive or bring the healing and repentance that Jesus asks for?
The Josh Harris news hit me hard because he’s my age. Which isn’t old, but it’s old enough to have done some good or some hurt. I love being my age but I often wish I’d done things differently. I’d like to retract the heavy-handed, glib things I said when I was in my 20’s. I cringe when I remember my inept ways of being dean and teaching at Calvary Bible School. I made stupid, thoughtless decisions that had to have hurt people who trusted me. I wish I could redo my first ESL lessons, because they were pathetic.
James is absolutely right when he writes that teachers will be judged more severely, and sometimes I wonder why anyone would choose to be an influencer.
And then I remember that everyone influences someone.
Some people have a louder voice or a bigger platform or more attractive words than others, but every time we open our mouths, we make some kind of impact on the ears around us.
Or on the eyes reading our blog. Or Facebook comment. Or the scorn in a conversation.
If we could see the knock-on effect our words have, I wonder if we would say less or more.
“I’m hungry for ice cream–let’s go to McDonalds!”
“That picture of the refugees made me cry.”
“How are things going for you?”
“He thinks he’s so cool.”
Words of passion and zeal and knowledge without wisdom are lethal. Truth without grace is a sledgehammer swung around without direction, volatile, harsh, dangerous. If we always have to be right, and always decry the latest scandal, and constantly shout truisms, we destroy the trust necessary to win an audience and make the difference we’re wanting.
That doesn’t mean we compromise truth. Jesus is full of truth and grace, and His people should reflect those qualities. If we don’t, something is seriously broken.
God’s Kingdom needs bold, winsome, confident, inviting words flung like confetti around the world. No one needs more hate, doubt, or hostility thrown at them.
One of my friends says that her husband prays every day to be humble and confident. I think that’s a posture that God would honor. We don’t have to be slinking around, doubting ourselves, making every disclaimer before we say something. The Holy Spirit said He would help us say the right thing at the right time. The problem isn’t that He doesn’t have the right words for us. The problem is that we aren’t always quiet enough to hear Him.
Josh Harris made some grave mistakes in his 40+ years.
I have too.
We all have.
Repenting and depending on Jesus with humility and confidence is the only way forward.