(The SBC Plodder a contrarian? Say it ain’t so, William.)
Ah, the NASCAR prayer guy.
My contrarian nature is to ignore it if everyone else is talking about it but, having entered into the alleged discussion here, I’d like to suggest that the conversation has moved beyond the propriety or lack of the same of the guy’s prayer. What is more noteworthy to me at this point is the vehemence of the criticism.
For the record, I think the prayer was both inappropriate and unhelpful. I offer three reasons,
1. It seemed to be about entertainment.
2. The audience seemed to be the crowd, not God.
3. The reference to the wife objectified her and was inappropriate.
There are easily more than these but these are sufficient.
I happened to be preaching on The Lord’s Prayer this past Sunday. That would be The Lord’s Prayer, King James Version, unusual for me since I’ve never used that version in preaching. I like the KJV language for this, though. Sure enough, NASCAR guy made a brief appearance in my church right after, “Hallowed be Thy Name!” Extrabiblical exclamation point supplied by moi. In fact, I went with the tri-syllabic HAL-LOW-ED, just like the song, which my wonderful wife sang. Sometimes the best sermon illustrations are handed to us. ‘Hallowed’, well, not in that prayer. Jesus showed us how to pray and we better be about making His Name HAL-LOW-ED like He did.
That said, I rather think that with some of the strident language, indignant condemnation, and gratuitous ridicule that has ensued, it sure looks like we fulfill the old axiom about shooting our wounded. Sure, I’m all for defending God’s Holy Name. I did that. I’m doing that now. But the problem is not with criticism but with the unkindness and vehemence of the criticism.
What I found lacking in some of the responses is that essential Christian virtue – kindness. Kindness should allow us to offer appropriate disagreement where we feel it is needed but also should compel us to temper our words and avoid compounding the problem. The problemhas been, well, compounded by the response.
Fail here and we lower the value of the term ‘Christian’ just like the NASCAR guy did for prayer. I would hope that in a reflective moment, perhaps with the passage of time, growth in grace and Christian maturity both camps would admit that this isn’t the more excellent way. But I understand that we can always find a reason to rip, rage, and roar and we can always rationalize it by saying we are defending God.
I have personally failed in each of the three ways I list above. No one needs to tell me that…now. I heard from the Lord. Had I immediately heard from my congregation in the ways Nascar guy has heard, that would be tough to swallow. I have appreciated over the years that folks have been restrained, or as I sometime put it, have put up with a lot from their pastor. Nascar guy hasn’t deserved all that has been said of him. Some things ought not to be said. Some people need to find a little kindness. We should all get a little grace from our Christian brethren, even if we are stiffnecked and defend our statements.
Also for the record, I’ve prayed before the start of dirt track races. I appreciated the opportunity. Some of those people aren’t like you and me. It was quite an experience. But few people cared, or remembered what I said. Well, I wasn’t talking to them anyway. Applause words aren’t in my prayer vocabulary.
But here on SBC Voices – boogety, boogety, boogety brethren, sistren. But let’s not be unkind and then say “That’s just Christian racin.’”
Be kind one to another.