Wednesday, October 7, 2009

John Piper Confused by Laughing Audience While He Confesses Sin

Just read this and thought I would pass it along. I've noticed something similar happening during normal times of fellowship as well (ie. small groups, etc).

Lesson I learned from the stuff below: Just because people get uncomfortable talking/hearing about intense things, does not mean that I need to insert a joke as some sort of relief. Uncomfortable can be life changing. I don't want to train people to handle their sin by blowing it off with laughter.
A few weeks ago John Piper spoke at a conference for the American Association of Christian Counselors. You should listen to the first five minutes. Piper decided to be as transparent as possible, given the audience, and to discuss some of the prevailing sins that he has struggled with his entire life. And the audience laughed uproariously. Piper was obviously perplexed and commented on how strange their reaction was.

If you didn’t know Piper, some of it could probably come across–at least initially–as unintentionally funny. But it is quite clear soon after that Piper was not cracking jokes but was being deadly serious about sin.

Greg Gilbert, calling it “one of the most bizarre things I’ve ever heard,” sees in this an “incredibly important and massively undervalued lesson”:

"Do you see, at root, what had happened at that conference? Over the course of a couple of days, those conferees had been trained to expect humor from the speakers and therefore to react to the speakers with laughter–all the way to the point that they were incapable of seeing that John Piper was being serious in his confession of sin to them. You can quibble with whether the first couple of Piper’s statements were (unintentionally, it seems) kind of funny. I happen to think they were. By the time he gets to about the 3-minute mark, though, there’s nothing funny left, and he’s moved into very serious stuff. Yet the atmosphere of humor and levity at that conference was so thick–the training so complete–that the people were incapable of seeing it. So they laughed at Piper’s confession of his sin.

Apparently the conditioning of that audience to think everything is funny took no more than a couple of days.

How deep do you think that conditioning would be for a church who sat under a funny-man pastor every Sunday for fifteen years?"

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

When David Heard - 2 Samuel 18:33

The account of King David and his son Absalom is, to say the least, heartbreaking. Absalom was by most standards, a terrible son. He killed his brother Amnon, left the kingdom for three years, returned with a desire to dethrone his father, David, and then declared himself king in Hebron and began a civil war with his own father. Absalom succeeded and David was forced to run from Jerusalem while Absalom placed himself on the throne. Somehow, amidst all of this, David remained compassionate towards Absalom. He ordered his men not to harm him, but to deal gently with him if he was seen in battle. Shortly after, Absalom became trapped in a thicket and was killed by one of David's warriors, Joab. The following scripture relates how David handled the news of his son's death.
...And behold, the Cushite came, and the Cushite said, “Good news for my lord the king! For the Lord has delivered you this day from the hand of all who rose up against you.” The king said to the Cushite, “Is it well with the young man Absalom?” And the Cushite answered, “May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up against you for evil be like that young man.” And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!
I can only imagine the pain and anguish that David must have experienced as he cried out over the death of his son, Absalom.

Last night I heard a choral piece by Eric Whitacre entitled, "When David Heard" that I believe displays the emotional response that David had to this news. It is 13 minutes long, but it is well worth your time. While listening, imagine that you are there with David. Listen as he goes from sadness to rage to peace. Close your eyes if you need to, and crank your speakers.