I had just dropped off my oldest at high school. I was telling myself not to get in a bad mood so early in the day due to traffic that was beyond my control. It wasn’t working. Because I drink so much water and coffee every morning I was also internally debating whether to run into Target to use their facilities or try to make it the church office.
I decided to try and make it.
To get my mind off the traffic, my very full bladder, and my mood – I flipped through radio stations. I landed on a secular station out of Nashville who happened to be playing “Watermelon Sugar” by Harry Styles. Nothing says mood changer like some Watermelon Sugar (though I confess to still having no idea what it actually is. . . I like sugar and I like watermelon, so there).
After the song, the three radio DJ’s did what they were supposed to do. Before they broke for a commercial break, they gave a tease. One of them said, “When we come back, we will hear from a listener wondering if it is okay to love two people at the same time.” I assumed (rightly) they meant love in the romantic sense, not in a “love your neighbor” sense. Thus, I did what any self-righteous, Southern Baptist pastor who was already mad at the world and about to wet his pants would do: I labored through the commercials to hear what they had to say.
My Pharisaical self was already predicting what I would hear (this was a SECULAR radio station, for crying out loud):
“Do whatever feels good.”
“Have sexual relations with as many people as you want.”
“You do you.”
You get the idea. I was already working on a sermon illustration. “Sinners!”
Finally, mercifully, the commercial break ended (I mean, is Bart Durham everywhere?). The three radio hosts delivered what was promised. One of them read an email from an anonymous listener. She was married to her husband of 20 years. She loved him. Wanted to stay married to him. Enjoyed being his wife. She also had a boyfriend of five years on the side. Her boyfriend was likewise married. The anonymous listener was torn. She wanted to know if it was possible (okay?) to love two people at once? She loved her husband, she said, but also loved this other man. “Was it okay?” she wanted to know.
Again, I just knew what I was about to hear. I was so into this I had forgotten about my bladder and my mood. I was predicting (read: judging) everything I was about to hear on the radio. Not sure if I mentioned this or not, but this was a secular radio station. And did I mention it was out of Nashville? So I am sure it is being run by a bunch of card-carrying liberals. You could smell my Pharisaical robe three cars over.
After the email was read, the DJ’s proceeded to give their counsel.
Before I knew it, I had to pick my graying bearded jaw off of the steering wheel. To say I was shocked at what I heard come out of the speakers in my Nissan Pathfinder is an understatement.
This secular radio station (have I mentioned that?) started PREACHING. I mean, PREACH. IN. (that’s a long way of saying “preachin.”)
Here are a few phrases I heard from these 3 radio hosts:
“You are simply being selfish.”
“You can’t have your cake and eat it too.”
“How can you say you love your husband and treat him like that?”
“Do you understand how many people are going to be hurt because of this?”
“You need to end it with your boyfriend and make things right with your husband.”
I mean. . .
I was shocked.
Here’s the thing. Get this. Not only was I immediately convicted for so wrongly assuming what I was about to hear; but my heart began to ache. I fear I just got more truth from three secular radio voices over a four minute span than is spoken into lives of those who have been church members all their lives. How sad is it that a woman only feels “safe” by sending an anonymous email to a radio station? And how sad is it that these three hosts were willing to speak truth (in love?) to this woman?
Where are the churches who are doing this for one another?
Where are the small groups who do this for one another?
Who in our churches feels safe enough to confess a struggle, admit a tendency, or wonder about love openly and freely?
How many extra-marital affairs in the church would be prevented if we were in each other’s lives before the temptation actually begins?
What if we all admitted up front to one another that temptations were going to come and that we all struggle in varying degrees?
Paul made sure Timothy knew that every person he pastored would need constant care – “rebuke, correct, encourage – in season and out.” (2 Timothy 4:2) That means all of us need the truth spoken to us, in love and with grace, all. the. time.
When I finally got to the church office, I felt ashamed. And, truth be told, I should have.
But that’s not the point of me telling you this. Here’s the take away: Every last one of us are broken. We need help. We have blind spots. We are doing the best we can and, to be honest, our best oftentimes leads to even more mess. I mean, isn’t the reason we became Christians in the first place due to the fact that we knew we were messed up and couldn’t do it on our own?
Let’s not forget that, church.
Correct. Rebuke. Encourage. Push one another on toward Christ-likeness.
Let’s not let a secular radio station out preach us.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to find the facilities.