Yesterday’s blog tried to assess what we can learn from the Lakeland Revival. As I read opinions from its critics and proponents, I must admit, some of their comments grieve me. Not so much for being wrong or right, but for having such an ungracious attitude in the process of making a point.
For example, one exchange (comments 35-37 on this blog) got especially heated and personal as a guy who called himself Al Uminum (I checked and it was a made-up name) told Sherry to “get a clue.” So I jumped in with this comment:
“Get a clue Sherry” is a particularly graceless way to communicate your conviction. It is a demeaning, diminishing phrase that reveals a broken attitude toward people whose view is different than your own. I’m sure those people who love you would say, ‘Oh, he didn’t mean to be so brusque, he’s harmless really.’
You may be right about Bentley, but to our blog readers you may look like a Pharisee who is just as broken as Bentley, while sadly lacking the humility to acknowledge it.
When one of my subordinates displays this kind of gracelessness, I usually ask them to apologize. You might want to consider the mix of truth and love in what you communicate, especially in a public forum. You may be all right in what you say, but completely wrong in the way you say it.”
OK, a confession: I can be just as guilty as anyone of this attack dog mentality that I’m taking “Al” to task for. In fact, my first draft of yesterday’s blog missed the mark on this score. I have to continually watch my words. In that regard, I especially love a story that businessman and missionary Gene Horn told me. It colors the way I view our assignment down here on earth. In fact, I found it so impactful, that years later, I called him back just to check the details. Here they are:
When Horn was a younger man, a faith healer came to town. Signs appeared on buildings and telephone poles all over town well in advance of the evangelist and his team. Horn’s expectations were high.
On the day of the crusade, Horn arrived, brimming with curiosity. But the crowd in attendance was much smaller than he’d expected. And when the evangelist came out on stage, he did not fit Horn’s picture of a faith healer. As the service wore on, things seemed to go from bad to worse. After preaching for 20 minutes, they spent nearly as long on the offering, seeming to want to squeeze the last dime out of the audience.
Finally the time came when the evangelist was going to pray for people. By this time, Horn had grown quite cynical. “This is ridiculous,” he thought to himself.
But then the most amazing thing began to happen. As the man prayed for the sick, they were healed! Horn could not believe his eyes. The miracles were undeniable. It seemed so out of place with the cheesy way in which the man conducted his ministry that Horn became indignant. “God, how in the world is it that this man is seeing all this happen? Why are you blessing his ministry?” He asked.
It was then that one of the most flabbergasting and humbling experiences of Horn’s life occurred. In the middle of the auditorium, God spoke to Horn in an audible voice:
“How dare you criticize one of my flawed servants; you’re one too.”
Horn was amazed and crestfallen. The rebuke changed everything. God restricts himself to work through us and we’re all flawed servants. We’re all Pharisees lined up with accusations and stones we’re waiting to throw. But God isn’t looking for that. He’s looking for a posture of humility that results in an attitude of grace.