The author continues, “For any generation to lose the gospel is tragic. But the generation that assumes the gospel … is most responsible for the loss of the gospel.” That generation is us. We are most responsible.
Over the last month or so, I have heard of, witnessed, and (sadly) perpetrated several damaging acts of offering advice, examples where the counsel backfired and the recipient was worse off than before.
And I’m talking about examples of good, sound, wise, practical advice. Instead of strengthening the listeners, the guidance pulled the rug out from beneath them; instead of encouraging, it discouraged:
A grown man told me how his father’s advice on how to handle school bullies made him feel like a lifelong coward;
I saw a man offer his wife excellent principles for dealing with her incompetent boss, and his advice shriveled her spirit;
I suggested to a friend three guidelines for strengthening a daily prayer habit, and the man’s prayer time went from ten minutes to two.
How many times have you received unsolicited advice and you wonder, Do I really look that stupid to you? Why does advice—and I’m talk about good, practical guidance—so often boomerang?
Several years ago I met with a woman distraught over her son’s rejection of Christianity.
She said, “I did everything I could to raise him right. I taught him to be like the ‘heroes of faith,’ with the faithfulness of Abraham, the goodness of Joseph, the pure heart of David, and the obedience of Esther.”
I once talked with a group of college students, and one of them asked, “How do you explain Westboro Baptist? I can’t stand Christianity because of churches like them.”
Westboro fan protests
Have you heard of Westboro? They picket military funerals in protests against gays. Their website is, God Hates Fags dot com (I can’t bring myself to type the link).
Westboro Baptist is a tiny church. Where they fail to attract many members, they excel at attracting the media. And where they fail to represent the True Church, they excel at representing what’s wrong with the church.
I’ve never met a soul from Westboro—and I’ve never met anyone who’s met someone from Westboro—and I cannot say anything about any of its members’ hearts.
But I can say this: if we don’t understand churches like Westboro, we’ll never understand grace.