After introducing the amazing story of Rosaria Champagne Butterfield in an earlier post this morning, and mentioning it in my sermon today, a member of our church family reminded me where I first heard her story, an article in Christianity Today last February, My Train Wreck Conversion
This is more than worth your time, not only her story of coming to embrace biblical faith, but even more a powerful lesson in how to engage, and how not to engage, those with whom we disagree. Butterfield notes the impact on her of tirades from the Religious Right that stir up the base and raise money, but don’t winsomely proclaim the truth.
Angry rhetoric may bring accolades from those who already agree with us, but will accomplish nothing positive in connecting with those with whom we differ. Preachers of my generation have regularly fallen into that trap and gotten kudos for courage in addressing hard topics. But it takes no courage to speak boldly inside the church, “beating up the bad guys” who aren’t there to defend themselves. Good thing they aren’t there because that wouldn’t help them.
In 37 years of preaching, I confess I’ve erred into that false courage many times with my supposed bold preaching. What takes courage is speaking with truth and grace as modeled by Jesus with the woman at the well.
“Lord Jesus, help me to learn from your example.”