Putting The Book Down

I started this blog in 2010 just as a place to put down thoughts from what I was studying in Scripture, reading in books, and about what I’ve noticed in culture in general. Part of the reason for doing this is because I just didn’t have a teaching outlet for what I was learning, because apparently people get tired of it when the book of Romans dominates your conversations, even Christian people.

A couple years ago I talked with our home group pastors at The Village about being a group leader. Initially we were a go, but after some time passed, Brandon Barker, one of the groups pastors, felt that it would be better to wait. He said that it wasn’t that I wasn’t ready, but that I could be “more ready.” I knew he was right, but I wasn’t sure exactly in what areas I needed to grow to be “more ready.” That is, until last night.

As some of you know, I’ve been reading When We Were On Fire by Addie Zierman lately. I’ll post a review on that soon, but part of her story helped me see where God has been growing me. Something she said made me realize that if I had become a home group leader two years ago, it would have been a train wreck.

Very few of us are good at entering into another’s pain, at putting down the book midquestion and wading into the dark truth.

You see, a few years ago Theology was definitely important to me, but it was more abstract. It was more a confession of beliefs than it was about how everyday people lived and walked. It was more about defending doctrine and playing textual table tennis like we did in coffee shops at Bible college.

I was so used to having to defend why I believed what I believed to people who thought anywhere in the range of “you’re wrong” to “Calvinism is the Devil” that I hadn’t yet relaxed into the sovereignty of God that I was so eager to proclaim. I hadn’t relaxed enough to hear what people were feeling behind their words, what they weren’t saying. I wasn’t able to put down the book and walk into someone’s pain.

I’m not sure when I learned how to do it. Maybe it was being at The Village long enough to not feel like I’m going to be challenged about Calvinism or Complementarianism or Christian Hedonism every day. Maybe it was reading other bloggers, seeing the pain and frustration behind their words – even when they weren’t that explicit about it. Maybe it was just part of growing in the faith, letting the Theology sink deep into practical application, as was always its design.

In any event, one of the things that I’ve learned from being part of the blogosphere and Twitter is that we have GOT to be able to do this if we’re going to get anywhere. Guys, if we want to have any hope of spreading the gospel, we have to be able to see past the words and see the pain. Sometimes it’s the pain of churches past. Sometimes it’s the pain of a life spinning out of control and trying to grab on to something solid, trying to grab ahold of Jesus by reaching out to His People. Sometimes it’s the pain of just wanting someone to see that a person needs to be seen.

Bloggers, when we read each other’s work, do we listen? Do we stop and hear the words and the heart behind it, or do we just comment on what we have problems with? Do we feel the pain long enough to use truth with love, as a scalpel, or do we react quickly using truth as a baseball bat, causing more harm than good?

We’ve gotta be able to step into someone’s pain and point them to the sufficiency and supremacy of Jesus. That may not look like using those words. It may look like holding someone while they cry inexplicably, or listening to someone as they vent. However it looks, it’s being there for someone. True, we can’t be there for everyone. Sometimes time and distance and conflicting schedules won’t let us be there for a person like we would want to, but they can still find much comfort in knowing that we are praying for the source of their pain and that they would find healing and hope in Jesus.

When you read someone’s blog, or someone interrupts the flow of conversation during home group, do you stop to hear them? Do you really listen to what they’re saying, and what they aren’t?

How can you do a better job of entering into someone’s pain,
to bring gospel and hope to dark places?

5 responses to “Putting The Book Down

  1. YES YES YES.

    I want everyone to read this.

  2. Pingback: When We Were On Fire | TransformingWords

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