Donald Miller tells a great story in the midst of his Blue Like Jazz. The story in the midst of the story is about setting up a confession booth at a city event. IN the confession booth, though, instead of a priest taking confessions of sinners, various Christians take turns confessing the sins of institutional or historic Christianity to any who enter.
I had an opportunity for such confession the other day.
A young person I know shared how, after his father died when he was 9, alleged Christians bombarded the child with “everything happens for a reason.” In effect, they were telling this grief-stricken child that God had taken his father away.
I hope you don’t mind, but I apologized on behalf of all the followers of Jesus.
This kind of thing is not comforting or encouraging to a 9 year old. I suppose that forcing that kind of meaning and order onto our broken world may bring some false sense of peace to some, but please, let’s spare the children.
This all reminded me of a time I did a funeral service for a stillborn baby. In the message I tried to do a couple of things. First, I wanted to encourage the grieving parents to feel free to direct their frustration, anger, and loss towards God. God can handle it, I assured them, and letting it all out God’s direction would be far better than stuffing it in the name of “being strong.” At the same time, I commanded everyone else at the service not to spew their “everything happens for a reason,” or “God took your baby” stuff in the direction of the couple.
At the reception held immediately following the service, several alleged friends chose to go ahead and spew on the couple.
Please, please, please: don’t lay your images of a mean, vengeful, and controlling God on hurting people.