Within a matter of days I’ve read reports of both Rick Warren and Jesus dropping the ball. This past week in an interview with CNN, Rick Warren is asked about God’s purpose in the trials of life. Specifically Warren was asked how he would respond (as a pastor) to someone who doesn’t feel that God loves them because they are faced with difficult circumstances such as foreclosure, economic uncertainty, cancer, etc. This is how Warren responded:

…sometimes what we think is a problem is actually a protection. For instance, last month my daughter-in-law, who is 25 years old, went through a brain tumor. She had her first child premature, about six weeks early, and when she had that baby early, it was breech. The cord was wrapped around its neck and it stopped breathing and they actually had to do an emergency C-section and resuscitate the child and save the baby’s life and save her life.

We looked at that and we thought, boy, that’s a pretty tough problem, but we now know that she had a three-inch brain tumor at the base of her brainstem, and if she had pushed, it would have killed her. And so actually, seven weeks later, when she should have been delivering the baby, we discovered the brain tumor, and she would have been trying to have brain surgery, three surgeries, one was 20 hours long, at the same time as having a baby.

So what we thought was a problem was actually a protection saving her life.

And sometimes, we look at a tapestry, and from the top down, you can see the picture. From the bottom up, it’s all of these different colors of threads. It makes no sense. It’s all jumbled. When God looks down, he sees what he’s doing. When we look up, we just see the jumble.

In all fairness, we live in a sound-byte culture and it is easy to pick apart statements without the broader context. I love the example that Warren gives about how God is often at work in unseen ways that are meant to serve for our good. I don’t think Warren dropped the ball in his statement that sometimes what we think is a problem may actually be a protection.

What I do take issue with is the fact that one of the most prominent, most influential evangelical pastors in the world consistently gives interviews in the mainstream media, while making theological statements about God, without supporting much of what he says with God’s Word. How encouraging would it have been for Warren to make a statement about God’s common grace for all men as a demonstration of His mercy to all as His means to point people to Christ by quoting some Scripture and then sharing an illustration?

But not only did Warren drop the ball this week, but so did Jesus. Well, Jesus hasn’t really dropped the ball…yet. But he will very soon. Today I received a flyer in the mail for an end-of-the-year New Year’s Eve celebration. In the press release it says:

Four live bands powered by SHOWSTAR NASHVILLE’S incredible sound and light equipment and techs held inside the largest indoor paintball arena in the nation. Six video walls to play video games will be running all night and one ball dropping from the hands of Christ at midnight.

I can  just see it now. Massive paper-mache Jesus’ hands complete with bloody wounds holding a glimmering disco ball until the countdown begins. And then, symbolically, the One who holds the universe in His will then drop the ball. I don’t mean to be too cynical, but it’s no wonder that young adults are abandoning Christianity at an alarming rate. Too often Jesus is used as a punchline or gimmick all for the sake of holding the dwindling attention of the next generation.

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