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You Christians eat your own, Always have always will.

Thoughts?



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I didn't plan to care about Ted Haggard. After all, I have access to Google and a Bible. I heard about what he did and knew it was wrong. I saw the clips from the news and the HBO documentary about his life after his fall. I honestly felt bad for him but figured it was his own undoing. When the topic came up with others I know in ministry, we would feign sadness, but inside we couldn't care less. One close friend said he would understand it more if Ted had just sinned with a woman. I agreed with him at the time. It's amazing how much more mercy I give to people who struggle with sins I understand. The further their sin is from my own personal struggles, the more judgmental and callous I become. I'm not proud of that. It's just where I was at that time in my walk. But that all changed in one short afternoon.

Eating our own

A while back I was having a business lunch at a sports bar in the Denver area with a close atheist friend. He's a great guy and a very deep thinker. During lunch, he pointed at the large TV screen on the wall. It was set to a channel recapping Ted's fall. He pointed his finger at the HD and said, "That is the reason I will not become a Christian. Many of the things you say make sense, Mike, but that's what keeps me away."

It was well after the story had died down, so I had to study the screen to see what my friend was talking about. I assumed he was referring to Ted's hypocrisy. "Hey man, not all of us do things like that," I responded. He laughed and said, "Michael, you just proved my point. See, that guy said sorry a long time ago. Even his wife and kids stayed and forgave him, but all you Christians still seem to hate him. You guys can't forgive him and let him back into your good graces. Every time you talk to me about God, you explain that he will take me as I am. You say he forgives all my failures and will restore my hope, and as long as I stay outside the church, you say God wants to forgive me. But that guy failed while he was one of you, and most of you are still vicious to him." Then he uttered words that left me reeling: "You Christians eat your own. Always have. Always will."

Change of heart

He was running late for a meeting and had to take off. I, however, could barely move. I studied the TV and read the caption as a well-known religious leader kept shoveling dirt on a man who had admitted he was unclean. And at that moment, my heart started to change. I began to distance myself from my previously harsh statements and tried to understand what Ted and his family must have been through. When I brought up the topic to other men and women I love and respect, the very mention of Haggard's name made our conversations toxic. Their reactions were visceral.

Please understand, this isn't just my experience. Just Google his name and read what is said about him in Christian circles. Most Christians would say God can forgive him, but almost universally people agree that God will never use him again. When I pressed the question, "Why can't God still use Ted?" I was dismissed as foolish or silly. Most of these people got mad and demanded I drop the subject. Perhaps they saw something I was missing, but this response seemed strange. After all, I reasoned, Jesus restored Peter after he denied Christ. That's a pretty big deal. And what about the Scripture that teaches us that the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable? So I felt I needed to meet Ted for myself. So I had my assistant track him down for a lunch appointment. I live outside Denver and he was living in Colorado Springs, a little over an hour away. Perfect!

We exchanged a few emails and agreed on a date and a restaurant. I took two men from my staff, and we met him for lunch. All the way there, I quietly played out in my head how he would act. Would he be reserved? Sad? Angry or distant?

Surprised by friendship

In less than five minutes of talking with Ted, I realized a horrible truth—I liked him. He was brutally honest about his failures. He was excited that the only people who would talk to him now were the truly broken and hurt. During our conversation a lady approached him. He instantly went into "pastor mode" and cared for her. Deep inside God was teaching me that true salvation is an ongoing process. We spent two hours together and decided to stay in touch. I began to call and ask him church-related questions. He possesses a wealth of wisdom. He even has a growing church in the very city that knows him for his biggest failures. I thought I had it tough as a church planter! But God is causing his church to really grow. I met his wonderful wife, Gayle. She is a terrific teacher of grace and one of my heroes. When I grow up, I want to be Gayle Haggard. And so I became close friends with Ted Haggard.

But then the funniest thing started happening to me. Some Christians I hung out with told me they would distance themselves from me if I continued reaching out to Ted. Several people in my church said they would leave. Really? Does he have leprosy? Will he infect me? We are friends. We aren't dating! But in the end, I was told that my voice as a pastor and author would be tarnished if I continued to spend time with him. I found this sickening. Not just because people can be so small, but because I have a firsthand account from Ted and Gayle of how they lost many friends they had known for years. Much of it is pretty coldblooded. Now the "Christian machine" was trying to take away their new friends.

It would do some Christians good to stay home one weekend and watch the entire DVD collection of HBO's Band of Brothers. Marinate in it. Take notes. Write down words like loyalty, friendship, and sacrifice. Understand the phrase: never leave a fallen man behind.

Where's the love?

I had a hard time understanding why we as Christians really needed Ted to crawl on the altar of church discipline and die. We needed a clean break. He needed to do the noble thing and walk away from the church. He needed to protect our image. When Ted crawled off that altar and into the arms of a forgiving God, we chose to kill him with our disdain. I wrestled with my part in this until I got an epiphany. In a quiet time of prayer, Christ revealed to me a brutal truth: it was my fault. We are called to leave the 99 to go after the one. We are supposed to be numbered with the outcasts. After all, we are the ones that believe in resurrection. In many ways I have not been aggressive enough with the application of the gospel. My concept of grace needed to mature, to grow muscles, teeth, and bad breath. It needed to carry a shield, and most of all, it needed to find its voice.

Grace must pick a side in the light of day, not just whisper its opinion in the shadows and dark places where we sign our name Anonymous. When a leader falls and then repents, grace picks a side. Grace is strong. Grace is a shield to those who cannot get off the battlefield. Grace is God's idea. Like a spiritual Switzerland, we stay in our neutral world where we can both forgive and judge but never get our hands dirty caring for the fallen. And when we don't pick a side, the wrong side gets picked for us. Crematoriums are more sanitary than hospitals. Let's change this!

Of course, I understand that if a person doesn't repent there is not a whole lot you can offer. But Ted resigned, confessed, repented, and submitted. He jumped through our many hoops. When will we be cool with him again? When will the church allow God to use him again? It's funny that we believe we get to make that decision.

The Ted Haggard issue reminds me of a scene in Mark Twain's, Huckleberry Finn. Huck is told that if he doesn't turn in his friend, a runaway slave named Jim, he will surely burn in hell. So one day Huck, not wanting to lose his soul to Satan, writes a letter to Jim's owner telling her of Jim's whereabouts. After folding the letter, he starts to think about what his friend has meant to him, how Jim took the night watch so he could sleep, how they laughed and survived together. Jim is his friend and that is worth reconsideration. Huck realizes that it's either Jim's friendship or hell. Then the great Mark Twain writes such wonderful words of resolve. Huck rips the paper and says, "Alright then, I guess I'll go to hell."

What a great lesson. What a great attitude. I think of John 15:13, "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." Maybe it's not just talking about our physical life. Perhaps it's the life we know, the friends we have and lose. Maybe I show love when I lay down the life we have together to confront you on a wrong attitude or action. Maybe we show no greater love than when we are counted with people who others consider tainted. Becoming friends with Ted was a defining moment in my life, ministry, and career. Sure, I lost a few relationships, but I doubt they would have cared for me in my failures. So really, I lost nothing. If being Ted's friend causes some to hate and reject me—alright then, I guess I'll go to hell.

Michael Cheshire is pastor of The Journey Church in Conifer, Colorado and author of How to Knock Over a 7-11 and Other Ministry Training (2012) and Why We Eat Our Own (2013)

How far you go in life depends on your being: tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of both the weak and strong.  Because someday in life you would have been one or all of these.  GeorgeWashingtonCarver


by on Jan. 23, 2013 at 10:34 AM
Replies (41-50):
Peanutx3
by on Jan. 23, 2013 at 11:51 AM
1 mom liked this


Quoting FromAtoZ:


Quoting Peanutx3:


Quoting FromAtoZ:


Quoting Peanutx3:

Thank you for posting the article.  There is definitely lots of truth behind it.  I know I have felt the scorn of a few Christians on CM for my beliefs.  I am extremely thankful to have found a home church where all are accepted and there is no judgement.  We leave the judgement to God.

I wish I could find a Church like that for my youngest daughter and I.  However, I will admit that I have not put myself out there much lately.  When we have attended a few services, at a few different Churches, it was during election time and wow................the preaching coming from the pulpit was not what I want my daughter to feel.

Yea that's hard and I am sure it is worse where you are at then where I am.  Maybe you should just move over here.  :)  There was only a little talk during announcements about signing something against gay marriage but it was never preached about and there was no pressure to sign which I appreciated.

Do not tempt me. lol  :)

I realize politics are important to many and there are many who intertwined them in with their beliefs.  It just seemed the situation could have been handled differently.  Also, my daughter, at times, would want to sit with me and not head off to the youth area.  That was not allowed at two of the Churches we visited.  That did not sit well with me.

There is a Church I have been hearing a lot about.  But it is one of those huge businesses.  That makes me a little leary.  But I won't know for certain if I do not put myself out there to check it out.  

I hear you.  I love that our church has no problems with kids in with the adults, we have even had some kids dancing in the aisles during worship.  I loved seeing the smile on the pastor's face. 

My church just joined up with a larger church, Christ the King Church, I am a little leary about bigger churches so we shall see if this changes our small town church.  I hope it just means more money for the mission work the church does locally and worldwide. 

gammie
by on Jan. 23, 2013 at 11:52 AM


I find that these kind of people who use God to hate are very sick and very dangerous. Their faith has not a damn thing to do with God. They will be the first to go to HELL!!


God loves all!!

Quoting Debmomto2girls:

I always found very conservative Christian to be very hypocritical. My MIL found Jesus a few years ago an now hates everyone! She uses her religion to justify her views. She has recently mellowed out a little because she knew she was dangerously close to never seeing her grankids again. She uses her religion to make it okay to hate gay people, Jewish.. Ect. She does not feel she hates them but prays for them because she knows they are going to hell. In my book, that is hate. She only approves of the "right" Christians.



thecoffeefairy
by Bronze Member on Jan. 23, 2013 at 11:54 AM
No. I saying, without any implication, that if i limit myself to views that I already have, I risk becoming close minded. We live in a big world, with many different religions, beliefs, cultures, ideals and dreams. I want to learn and to grow as a person. I am also agnostic. To me religion holds a different meaning to every individual. I do not judge which is right. I was responding to the question of why do people read things they do not agree with? Does this help their liberal, athiest agenda? I paraphrased.


Quoting MeAndTommyLee:

Obviously the views you are referring to are the closed minded ones?  I don't get it.  The view of finding someone `unclean' and Christians needed him to fall into a ditch and die before forgiving him'...  This does not make sense.  True Christians include, not disown and certainly have no authority to judge.  This is not what religion is about.   




Quoting thecoffeefairy:

I pay attention to views different from my own so I don't become close minded. I realize I'm not always right. Seeking a larger world view helps me to be a better, more well rounded person. It also helps me interact with a more diverse group of individuals. I need that.



Quoting MeAndTommyLee:


I don't even know who this man is.  Why do people pay attention to people they dislike and the stupid things they say on the regular basis?  Does it fuel and further the liberal or atheist  agenda? 





 


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12hellokitty
by Platinum Member on Jan. 23, 2013 at 11:55 AM

 


Quoting yourspecialkid:

 Oh good grief.  Enough already.

I have no idea who the people in the article even are.  I do not identifiy with the kind of people they are talking about.  Yet I continue to get lumped in.  It seems like another opportunity for a bash fest.

 

  IMO people bring up situations and people as listed in the article in order to validate their own personal views about religion, specifically Christianity and church.  It seems it's not eating your own to make negative comments about the millions of Christians who attend church and have a different understanding of the value of practicing religion.   

 

NWP
by guerrilla girl on Jan. 23, 2013 at 11:56 AM
1 mom liked this

This post was not what I was expecting...

Very interesting article.

3lilladies81
by Member on Jan. 23, 2013 at 11:57 AM
Newly converted Christians can be over zealous they have the love, but not the knowledge. We are to love EVERYONE. Jews are Gods chosen people I don't understand why she would "hate" them. Praying for someone's soul is not hateful quite the opposite. I was very critical of people earlier into walk and quick to pass judgement it's only after year of walking with God that I know better. Sin is sin we all sin and we all fall short it's getting back up and dusting yourself off that matters to God.

Quoting Debmomto2girls:

I always found very conservative Christian to be very hypocritical. My MIL found Jesus a few years ago an now hates everyone! She uses her religion to justify her views. She has recently mellowed out a little because she knew she was dangerously close to never seeing her grankids again. She uses her religion to make it okay to hate gay people, Jewish.. Ect. She does not feel she hates them but prays for them because she knows they are going to hell. In my book, that is hate. She only approves of the "right" Christians.
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survivorinohio
by René on Jan. 23, 2013 at 12:00 PM


Quoting 12hellokitty:



Quoting yourspecialkid:

 Oh good grief.  Enough already.

I have no idea who the people in the article even are.  I do not identifiy with the kind of people they are talking about.  Yet I continue to get lumped in.  It seems like another opportunity for a bash fest.

 

  IMO people bring up situations and people as listed in the article in order to validate their own personal views about religion, specifically Christianity and church.  It seems it's not eating your own to make negative comments about the millions of Christians who attend church and have a different understanding of the value of practicing religion.   


I think that we as a species are guided by a certain competitive nature.  I think that is encouraged in our society and that one of the negative repercussions is one ups manship.  "I am better than so and so because..."

I think its a nature we have a duty to fight Christian or not.  It is damaging when it comes to a point where we have to invalidate another to feel valid ourselves.

How far you go in life depends on your being: tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of both the weak and strong.  Because someday in life you would have been one or all of these.  GeorgeWashingtonCarver


MeAndTommyLee
by Gold Member on Jan. 23, 2013 at 12:05 PM

Living up to the standard is too much work for some people because they are simply to fixated on being right when they couldn't be more wrong.   


Quoting survivorinohio:

Theres that reference.  True.  What does that mean?

Christians are commanded to behave in a way much different than this, yet we see this all the time.

I submit that anyone who believes in Christ is a Christian and that none of us live up to the standard. Thats what its about to me.

Quoting MeAndTommyLee:

Obviously the views you are referring to are the closed minded ones?  I don't get it.  The view of finding someone `unclean' and Christians needed him to fall into a ditch and die before forgiving him'...  This does not make sense.  True Christians include, not disown and certainly have no authority to judge.  This is not what religion is about.   

 

Quoting thecoffeefairy:

I pay attention to views different from my own so I don't become close minded. I realize I'm not always right. Seeking a larger world view helps me to be a better, more well rounded person. It also helps me interact with a more diverse group of individuals. I need that.


Quoting MeAndTommyLee:

I don't even know who this man is.  Why do people pay attention to people they dislike and the stupid things they say on the regular basis?  Does it fuel and further the liberal or atheist  agenda? 


 

 



 

survivorinohio
by René on Jan. 23, 2013 at 12:08 PM
1 mom liked this

No living up to the standard is impossible for all people because we are human and thus fallible.  Everyone is wrong about something.

Quoting MeAndTommyLee:

Living up to the standard is too much work for some people because they are simply to fixated on being right when they couldn't be more wrong.   


Quoting survivorinohio:

Theres that reference.  True.  What does that mean?

Christians are commanded to behave in a way much different than this, yet we see this all the time.

I submit that anyone who believes in Christ is a Christian and that none of us live up to the standard. Thats what its about to me.

Quoting MeAndTommyLee:

Obviously the views you are referring to are the closed minded ones?  I don't get it.  The view of finding someone `unclean' and Christians needed him to fall into a ditch and die before forgiving him'...  This does not make sense.  True Christians include, not disown and certainly have no authority to judge.  This is not what religion is about.   


Quoting thecoffeefairy:

I pay attention to views different from my own so I don't become close minded. I realize I'm not always right. Seeking a larger world view helps me to be a better, more well rounded person. It also helps me interact with a more diverse group of individuals. I need that.


Quoting MeAndTommyLee:

I don't even know who this man is.  Why do people pay attention to people they dislike and the stupid things they say on the regular basis?  Does it fuel and further the liberal or atheist  agenda? 








How far you go in life depends on your being: tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of both the weak and strong.  Because someday in life you would have been one or all of these.  GeorgeWashingtonCarver


NWP
by guerrilla girl on Jan. 23, 2013 at 12:10 PM

Reading the article this is about one Christian pastor discussing his friendship with another Christian pastor.

What non-Christian voices are you talking about in this case?

Quoting 12hellokitty:



Quoting yourspecialkid:

 Oh good grief.  Enough already.

I have no idea who the people in the article even are.  I do not identifiy with the kind of people they are talking about.  Yet I continue to get lumped in.  It seems like another opportunity for a bash fest.

 

  IMO people bring up situations and people as listed in the article in order to validate their own personal views about religion, specifically Christianity and church.  It seems it's not eating your own to make negative comments about the millions of Christians who attend church and have a different understanding of the value of practicing religion.   



North West Passage

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