Shucks, Y’all! With all that I had going on, I completely forgot to post December’s Friday Feature. I briefly considered just skipping it and waiting to post this one the last Friday of January but this particular podcast has helped me examine and articulate my own personal experiences as a teen and young adult in church, and although I am no longer in the denomination of my childhood, what I continue to experience with others who are. So, consider this regular post on a Tuesday a bonus Friday Feature!
Before I introduce this month’s podcast, let me just say upfront, it isn’t always easy to listen to, especially if you have been harmed, to any degree or at any level, by the type of behavior in a church that the podcast addresses. Let me also say what an excellent job the writers and host do in presenting the hard reality with an atmosphere of grace. Mike Cowper (host) and those he interviews remind us often that even with the emotional and spiritual abuse inflicted by the leaders of this particular mega church, people came to know Jesus. It is a grace-filled approach that reminds me that despite the negative experiences I had in the denomination of my childhood, I found Jesus.
For me, it is a living example of redemption. God continues to take the scars caused by the harm other people have inflicted and is leading me through a season of healing and growth. The Gospel writer Luke tells us that as Jesus grew up as a child and adolescent that he grew in wisdom (see Luke 2:40-52; I’ve preached on this the past two Sundays). Jesus calls us to follow him in this continual growth through the whole of our lives.
When we are harmed by others, especially by those who claim to be christians, we can choose to grow bitter or grow better. We can turn toward God in our pain, trusting and knowing that the God of Love does not sanction in any way the harm caused us, finding comfort with our Compassionate Creator. In time, we can use our own healed pain to help others heal. As we seek to grow and mature in wisdom with Jesus, we can discern where and how we might be, either individually or as a part of a larger group, causing harm to others, intentionally or not.
There are no human institutions that are perfect and absolutely none that are infallible, even churches. When we witness the faults and failings of others, instead of judging or just gawking, we need to ask ourselves “what in myself and the institutions in which I serve needs to be made new by God’s gracious love?” We must work, with God’s help, to extricate the log from our own eyes (see Matthew 7:1-5).
The podcast is titled The Rise and Fall of Mars Hill and is hosted by Mike Cowper.
I’d appreciate hearing how you respond to this series, if you are willing to share.