Thursday, September 23, 2010

Comforting the Disturbed and Disturbing the Comfortable

My friend Scott likes to say that while Jesus comforted the disturbed He also disturbed the comfortable.  I needed to make sure I attributed hearing that phrase to him since his wife is one of the six people who read this blog.  Though it seems the line was first used by Cesar Cruz (onward children of the sun)  and in 2006 was the title of a UK movie about a team of international telephone fraudsters - I'm waiting for International Telephone Fraudsters 3-D.

Last Sunday in worship we disturbed some people’s comfort as we shared a very honest testimony.  Stephanie and Mickey Peters have faced a marriage crisis that far too many couples share – infidelity.  Thankfully, that was only the beginning of their story.  They discovered that Jesus really did come to save sinners, forgiveness is possible and grace always abounds.  In amazing ways Jesus brought healing, new life and comfort to the places sin disturbed and even threatened to destroy in their marriage.  Today they are open and honest about their story.  Even more with bold courage they want share it with the hope that God might use their experience to bring redemption and restoration to someone else. 

We put together a video testimony (which you can watch below or at GracePresMedia) and shared it in worship.  It’s a very real testimony that acknowledges one of the consequences of Mickey’s sexual addiction and infidelity was a pregnancy with another woman.

We received lots of positive feedback and encouragement.  Throughout the week I’ve heard of how God is already using the Peters’ story to bring healing to other marriages.  People have stopped me to thank us for having the courage to share this story of God’s grace.

We have also received some criticism.  For some the testimony was too real, too graphic and inappropriate for worship.  It made some people uncomfortable and they shared with me that it was disturbing.

I’ve tried to listen carefully to the criticism.  I’m a dad of three daughters.  Sometimes we will be watching television or a movie together and a particularly suggestive scene makes all of us a little uncomfortable.  Even commercials can leave us awkwardly wondering what to say to one another.  I understand that some topics are uncomfortable to hear about sitting next to your kids.  I also appreciate that parents need to make the decisions about what, how and when their children are exposed to sensitive topics.  The criticism we've received has been constructive and helping us to better think about how we share sensitive stories.

But I’m also convinced that being uncomfortable is okay. 

Even more I’m convinced that church is a place where it’s okay to be real, confess our failures and most of all to experience grace.   Grace can make us uncomfortable because to really experience it we have to be willing to admit that we need it.

Stephanie says that they are not afraid to be the face of this terrible thing that happens in marriage.  My hope is that the church (not just Grace but the church around the world) will have the same sort of courage.   We need to be sensitive to our audience (we really do think carefully about that).  We never want to be offensive simply for the sake of offending.  We also want to acknowledge the reality and consequences of sin.  Sin is messy and disturbing.  The good news is that God has a plan for comforting us when we are disturbed and more importantly dealing with our sin - Jesus.

And there will be times when He just might disturb the comfortable.  

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