After hearing him, listening to him, reading him and hearing so many others talk about him, I’ve decided I don’t like John Piper. I’ve just had such a hard time with this brother for so many reasons and have struggled to appreciate the good of his ministry with the bad. I know, I know, we aren’t supposed to get to the point of saying that we don’t like someone this coldly. But I’ve been learning that it’s necessary.
Lately God has been opening up my heart to the fact that I have harbored unforgiveness towards people and communities in my life. I know how damaging this is to all those involved and have taken graduate level courses on forgiveness, love and reconciliation. I’ve been trained in the Greek, the Hebrew, the language and lives of experts on this field and have devoted my life to the message of forgiveness, I’ve preached it, taught it, lived it, counseled others to embrace it and have judged those who don’t – but now radiance of my own guilt has reached my own eyelids.
Let’s give a toast to the blindspots and ask God to show them to us in good time. I have them, you have them, we all have them. It’s not enough to just say I have them, I need to know them. I dislike John Piper because he thinks differently than I do, says things that disagree with my fundamental convictions about how important statements should be said. I don’t like that I feel he is right and I’m wrong because I think differently than he does.
But, even with people whom I agree with, I still don’t like what they say at times and how they say it. I’m willing to put up with those aspects because of my resonance with their way of thinking. I guess John Piper frustrates me because I want him to be kinder to those who disagree with him, to those who’s theology is not his. I believe that after sitting and having tea with John, I would like him on a personal level but I know that I still would be frustrated.
Lately, I’ve learned that the best of friends are the ones that are frustrated by me, yet they stick around. Or, they frustrate me and I stick around. What about the people who disregard your humanity, step on your dignity, dislike your personality or just plain abuse their power over you? What if they didn’t begin as your friend or even worse they did and then seemingly betrayed you? What if they give you benevolence without respect or lip-service without action? What do we do with those people?
Boundaries anyone? I think boundaries are necessary – first to understand that boundaries do exist and then the needed navigation of how to set up, maintain or even at times remove them. I want respect, health, balance, passion and consistency in my convictions and relationships. But life isn’t that straightforward or simple. I have learned a lot about how to have boundaries and self-respect through many broken relationships but what about those broken relationships? What do I do with those? Many of them still effect me and though I can ignore some, others I can’t.
I feel as if the lessons I’ve learned about being a person of health by maintaining healthy boundaries and being patient in relationships could have a detrimental effect on the softness of my heart. Could it be that the pursuit of healthy boundaries has turned into a effort to cortisone my heart off into a safe but lonely corner where the brokenness of the world cannot break in? Have I renamed the status of an “unforgiving heart” to a “heart with boundaries?”
What about John Piper? Have I justified disliking him in spite of the fact that he’s a brother? I disagree with him but my frustration with him is beyond that because I know that if he decided that he was going to change the things that I was upset about – I would disappointed and I would need another figure to pin my frustrations upon. Anyways – Unforgiveness has immobilized so many potentially beautiful relationships and friendships and learning communities.
I want to be filled with love – not just for people that I agree with, am in community with but with those who I owe nothing to, to those who owe me something, to those who have wronged me beyond recognition and to those who I have unconsciously hated. Unforgiveness – it’s a cancer that we harbor.
Christ said to love our enemies – what he didn’t tell us was that that most of our enemies we create on our own. They are people who may or may not have harmed us, but the choice for them to be an enemy is ours. We create them, feed them, cage them and expect that our bags of stones is justifiable. Christ may have said to love our enemies but I’m discovering that my enemies, at least of them are really not enemies, just people who I chose not to forgive. I’m sure he knew that, so in his infinitely wise way, he allows us to call them what we feel they are so that we can undo what we have done to make them an enemy.
They are not enemies – most of the enemies we are called to love are really our family members, our loved ones, our brothers and sisters, our friends, our children, our confidantes, our ex-husbands and wives, our ex-boyfriends and girlfriends, our own flesh and blood. A few really are people who despise us for no reason but most aren’t. Forgiveness doesn’t remove the wrong done, the pain inflicted, or the negligence imbued, but it does free us from having to create our enemies. If I live a life of love, enemies will come, so I don’t need to create my own. So, is John Piper worth my angst and frustration? Not at all. I love him, his heart and that he loves God so much. I disagree with much of how he does things but I cannot allow his way of thinking to be the reason
I finish with a quote from Rob Bell who has been an on-going example of love for enemies in my life…
In a Chicago Sun Times article entitled The Next Billy Graham?, Bell responded to his critics:
“When people say that the authority of Scripture or the centrality of Jesus is in question, actually it’s their social, economic and political system that has been built in the name of Jesus that’s being threatened,” Bell says. “Generally lurking below some of the more venomous, vitriolic criticism is somebody who’s created a facade that’s not working…But I love everybody and you’re next!” he says, giggling. “That’s how I respond to criticism.”