It’s interesting how this sort of thing especially happens in marriage. Husbands and wives do a lot of talking and before long they know each other’s best stuff. What might be the first time we tell our story to friends could be (or feel like) the hundredth time our spouse has heard it. This was the theme of a recently re-aired show from This American Life. They call the show “Reruns” and though overall it’s not that great, this marriage part was really good. They interviewed three couples about the stories their spouses always tell.
We all have those stories, don’t we? Just ask your wife or husband. My “go-to” is from a missions trip in Mexico. It’s self-deprecating and serious, but ends funny. See, already I want to tell it. And if you were sitting in our living room, I would. . . even as my lovely wife would probably roll her eyes. For good reason she’d roll her eyes. It’s the same thing again and again. Same setting, same angle, same words.
It’s exactly what pastors and Christian leaders should not do when we preach, teach, and write gospel truth. Our message is not set on mere rerun. It can’t be, not today.
Several years ago, I experienced what appeared to be a fairly sudden onset of significant discouragement. It both surprised and scared me that, despite my best attempts, I couldn’t shake it on my own. And it wasn’t going away. A series of difficult circumstances and relationships left me feeling lost and hopeless in the church we’d worked so hard to plant. I was stuck, unable to find a way out. It was painful to admit I was quickly turning into the person I’d tried so hard not to become—a discouraged and disillusioned pastor’s wife.
C. Michael Patton:
Charles Darwin began his journey, according to his testimony, as a Christian. In fact, there was the possibility of him going into ministry before his ride on the Beagle. However, there were some things that changed his mind. No, it was not his “discovery” of evolution that changed him. In fact, it was something else that pushed him into this evolutionary paradigm: meaninglessness. More precisely, meaningless suffering. In his book Saving Darwin, Karl Giberson gives three primary observations in nature that contributed to Darwin’s eventual rejection of God. The first was a species of rhea. They were flightless birds. “Why would God create a bird with so much unused aerodynamic paraphernalia?” A bird with wings that could not fly, according to Darwin, made the wings meaningless and sad (p. 33). The second was a goose that, though it had webbed feet, never went into the water. “If this was the handiwork of God, it was a cruel joke” to make him try to walk on meaningless webbed feet (ibid). Finally, there was the Ichneumonidae wasp. The mother wasp introduces a paralyzing chemical into a caterpillar and then lays its eggs inside. The hatched wasps have instincts that cause them to eat the host caterpillar in such a way that keeps the caterpillar alive as long as possible. From Darwin’s perspective, God could not be responsible for such a horrific and painful process.
Shame is a powerful force, like an explosive. A person full of shame is unpredictable, even dangerous to himself and others. He feels sub-human, unworthy, unloved. Shame is no mere trinket in the hands of the powerful; it must be handled with care. More and more, though, it seems people are using shame to “correct” others.
Sex isn’t selling: This is the headline of an issue ofCanadian Business magazine. Of course it’s long been one of the truisms of marketing—sex sells. But this article contends that for the first time in recent memory sex no longer accomplishes what it once did; it no longer piles up the profits.