An Open Letter To Ms. Hatmaker and Anyone Who Feels Lost In Good Friday

Ms. Hatmaker,

 

My heart breaks as I read your Good Friday blog, entitled, My Saddest Good Friday in Memory: When Treasured Things are Dead. Throughout the years, I have enjoyed many of your posts, your casual plain-speaking style sprinkled with a dash of humor for a world that takes itself a little too seriously, perhaps.

 

Reading your post today, your words are pregnant with so much pain that my instinctive response is to wrap my arms around you as you grieve. I cannot imagine the sting of rejection that you have experienced, nor can I envision as you describe, being on the wrong side of religion. You go on to state, it was soul-crushing. I suffered the rejection, the fury, the distancing, the punishment, and sometimes worst of all, the silence.

 

Cruelty, whether it is found in the world or in the church, is never an acceptable response to a fellow Christian, even if we disagree.  In response to that I can only say I am sorry. I feel tremendous compassion for you in this season on your journey. You are right when you say that for each of us in life, every Good Friday has, a different tone, a different sense of perspective, and that, Good Friday is about death, even a necessary death.

 

I can sense in your frail disillusionment, your political disappointment, a sincere faith struggling to find its footing again. I pray you do find your footing again. I pray that your heart finds healing and wholeness as it discovers God’s purpose in this season of your life.

 

What I want you to know is that while much of your distress is aimed at the Christian machine, I don’t think the Christian machine is the cause of your pain. I am no fan of much in the business of Christianity or the brand-building that occurs in the name of Jesus, but that is not how I perceive the sequence of events that led to your pain.

 

Your pain, it seems, came from your decision to use your platform to begin speaking out against essential Biblical doctrine to which the majority of the evangelical community adheres. When anyone makes a decision to go outside of essential doctrine and begins to state positions that are in opposition to that doctrine and in addition, in opposition to Scripture, then the Christian community cannot remain silent, cannot support, cannot sit idly by while these truths are distorted, contradicted, or even denied.

 

Yet in saying this, instead of the cruelty you experienced, I wish the leaders in your life would have lovingly and graciously taken you aside to speak truth to you, and to bring to you the kind of spiritual accountability we all need. Romans 2:4b (NIV) tells us, God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance.

 

I wish those who were the cause of your tsunami of terror could have expressed their disappointment, their sorrow, in the manner of a true Christ-follower.

 

We are not to bury the truth for the sake of love, nor are we to forsake love in our pursuit of the truth.  We are to hold truth and love together, in the manner of our Savior. Ephesians 4:15 (NIV) says that, Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

 

We are to hold truth and love together, in the manner of our Savior.Click To Tweet

 

Scripture is clear, we are not to judge others. One look at Matthew reveals that we should not condemn, malign, or destroy another individual. We should treat everyone with the same love we were shown by God.

 

Matt 7:1-2 (NIV) tells us, Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.

 

We were all created in the image of God. We are each wholly and divinely loved by God. Our worth was settled at our creation. In judging another’s character, value, or inherent worth, we judge and condemn our own. We should do our best to show honor and respect to others, whether we agree with them or not, whether they judge us or not.  

 

Still, Scripture is equally clear that we as Believers should judge (discern, declare, assess) that which is right or wrong. We are to distinguish between that which is righteous and congruent with the Word of God, and that which is in error or rebellion to God.

 

Yes, we are to judge – the behavior, not the person. I will never call sin un-sin. I will never, whether mine or another’s, applaud the willful rejection of that which is true, noble, and of good report. I will never call wrong right. I cannot.

 

John 7:24 (ESV) offers, Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.

 

John 7:24 (ESV) offers, Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.Click To Tweet

 

Colossians 1:9(NIV) shares, For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives.

 

Amos 5:14-15 tells us to, Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken. Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.

 

2 Timothy 4:2 (NIV) states that we should, Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

 

Our Christian community is being shred into a thousand little pieces. The enemy is coming after us to destroy us. The Word of God is the only thing that can give us a common foundation, that can hold us together, that can keep us strong in the face of such cultural and spiritual opposition.

 

Hebrews 13:8 (NIV) says, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. His truth doesn’t bend or pretend based on popularity or fame. It doesn’t cater to, nor does it sanctify tickling rhetoric or political agendas just to be en vogue. God is love, yet He is at the same time holy, righteous, and just. He is beautiful and unequalled. He has made a way for each of us to escape the consequence of our broken, sinful nature —His name is Jesus. He died for you and me. He can heal the deepest heartaches and mend our broken, wayward ways. He is good and yes, He is God.

 

Please know that as a Believer, I don’t have the freedom to pick and choose the tenets of my faith. If anything puts itself in opposition to the Word of God that has been studied by great theologians, pastors, and evangelists for thousands of years, then I must evaluate it and reject it.

 

I hate that your heart feels like it has been scorched to ashes, as you describe your anguish. I pray that your heart finds healing in Jesus’ presence. I pray your spiritual and emotional wounds are bound up with the salve of God’s love and truth in a way only He can provide.

 

While we may disagree on certain things, I pray for your healing, your blessing, and your renewal. Even though we have never met, I pray you know you are loved, and I believe this season doesn’t have to be a forever Good Friday for you. I pray that Sunday comes in your heart and that you find new life, new light as He seeks to conquer death in our lives.

 

His truth and His love can make all things new. Cling to both of them. Surround yourself with Godly men and women of the Word. I will hope for you. I will pray for you. And I will watch with you for the angel on the tombstone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blessings,

Lisa


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23 Comments

  1. FANTASTIC posting, Lisa.

    As I read Jen’s post, all I could keep hearing in the back of my mind was “I see no repentance for the things that she said and advocated which go against God’s Word.” It seemed to be a posting very common today; someone who wants to claim Jesus as Lord but wants to reject the teachings of Jesus that he/she doesn’t like or that makes he/she unpopular among non-believers.

    In Jen’s mind the problem is not that she turned their back on Christ for a fake Christ; the problem is all those mean people who didn’t think it was OK to create a Jesus in your own image.

    I’m with you in not excusing the people who actually said things that were not Christ-like in action. I’m more than positive those things happened to her. However, I’m not going to lump everyone who didn’t support her march to unholiness in that realm as Jen wants to do. I’m sure some of the hard comments, the things that she wants to call the “Christian Machine” were people who just couldn’t support sinful actions or someone openly advocating sin and thus chose not to buy her books, watch her show or support her ministry any longer.

    I do have one minor point is disagreement with you…and that’s your interpretation of the infamous “do not judge” portion of Scripture. I don’t think that’s really saying for us not to judge but rather to realize that we have sin in our lives the same as other people who profess Christ. I have no problem with someone judging me by the same way I judge others (i.e. by the Word of God.) I know I fall short. It’s why I know I need a risen savior in Christ.

    However, it also reminds me that sin is sin and that we cannot live by a standard less than seeking to be Christ-like in all we do. If someone wants to live in a way that is non-Christ-like, as Jen has done, I have no problem with someone calling her out on it IF that person knows they too sin and have the humility to say “yes, I am working to remove the plank in my eye because I see the speck in yours and want to help you remove it.”

    • lisamurray

      April 18, 2017 at 11:32 AM

      Beautifully said, Jason! I can completely understand your interpretation of Matthew – I simply never want a person’s inherent value or worth to be confused with their words or actions. It can be so hard to distinguish between the two, but my heart is always to try my best to, “love the sinner, hate the sin.” I want as much as possible for them to feel God’s love, even in their correction or reproof. Thanks for stopping by today!

  2. I believe in His grace so strongly, but I still believe there are some who abuse it and continue to sin. I do agree we ae to judge righteously. And will know by the fruit.

    • lisamurray

      April 18, 2017 at 5:26 PM

      Absolutely, Rebecca! It is always imperative that we hold truth and love together – that is the only way to judge righteously. Blessings to you!

  3. So, so beautifully written. Reconciliation, restoration, and healing should be the end goal of correction within the church of Jesus Christ, not shame and ridicule. I’ve never been a fan of Hatmakers, but my heart hurts at the pain that was inflicted by the big C church….even though it was brought about by her own actions. Sharing your post.

    • lisamurray

      April 18, 2017 at 5:24 PM

      Yes, Leah! Jut as you say, reconciliation, restoration, and healing should always, always, always be the goal! Take care!

  4. This reads like “Oh, sweetie, don’t you see how you brought this all on yourself? You could be as happy and content as the rest of us if you just agreed to be always agreeable and see no difficulty with the way we all do things and think things around here. If you could just understand that there are no questions anymore, only sure and certain answers you wouldn’t have to be so sad. I pray that you would see the light and simply acquiesce to what everyone else who matters thinks about the things you are troubled by.” I found this letter condescending and the most politely rude thing I have heard said in a long time. No matter what Jen said or thought that you or others found out of line, she did not deserve to take the beating she did and even if you think her guilty of the same behavior she finds so off-putting, all that should have been said was, “the way you have been treated was wrong.” Not “the way you have been treated is wrong but you brought it on yourself because you had the temerity to disagree with how some understand the faith ” It can’t be both. If Jen was wrong or “unbiblical” (which is a pretty big claim offered with an inordinate amount of certainty that you, and those who agree with you, have figured out what that means for all people at all times. To use that claim to say what you did about her bringing it all on herself is a staggering and frightening claim) then do the correcting thing or clarifying thing without the rejection and vitriol and name calling, which you, to your credit, did. But you don’t get to say she brought this bad behavior on herself and in any way imply that those who engaged in that behavior were in some way vindicated because you declared Jen was “unbiblical” and then still claim the moral/spiritual high ground. This was ugly.

  5. Thank you. Articulate. Perfectly written. Truth.

  6. Thank you. Such truth and written with clarity and compassion.

  7. We truly need more love and grace. Especially towards people who we disagree with. The tomb is empty, folks! Let’s put grace, the power of resurrection, in action!

    • Yes, Mari-Anna! Love is essential! Unfortunately, we can “love” people as they walk off the edge of the cliff, so to speak. Love alone, is out of balance and will always lead us astray. This is why Paul expressed in Romans 6:1-2, “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?” Love uncoupled from truth is simply enabling and proves a destructive force in our lives. Likewise, truth uncoupled from love is merely legalism and will produce spiritual disease and death. People love to ascribe to Jesus only the nature of love, because they are comfortable with this attribute. Yet, if Jesus were only love, he never would have told the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more. Sin matters to Jesus. Truth matters. Holiness matters. And yes, LOVE matters. Let us pursue to whole of the gospel so that we can be found mature in Christ and lacking in nothing. Blessings to you, friend!

  8. I thought this was written with grace and love. I like the way you stand up for what’s right but at the same time don’t excuse those Christians show caused such hurt.

    • lisamurray

      April 23, 2017 at 10:12 AM

      Thank you, Penny! How we handle the truth is just as important as the truth itself. We are to speak the truth in love. Many try to sideline the truth, saying there is no truth, yet we must carefully, compassionately cling fast to both truth and love if we are to reflect Christ.

  9. Yes! Beautiful! Thank you!

  10. As I read your words this phrase kept singing it’s way through my brain:
    “Speaking the truth in love.”
    You have done this with grace.
    Blessings to you!

  11. This. So beautifully written yet full of truth and love. And you are so right about that, “We are to hold truth and love together, in the manner of our Savior. “

  12. This has definitely been an ugly season for Christianity. I’m so thankful that God gives grace to each of us since we’re not very quick to give it to each other. 🙁 We too often expect others to accept our interpretations of scripture as the correct way, and when they don’t, we accuse them of false doctrine. Praying for all of us to be more patient and kind so that the world will once again know us by our love, not by our ugliness.

    • lisamurray

      April 23, 2017 at 10:22 AM

      Yes, we as Christians should be known for our love, yet it is equally important to stand for truth. If we are only known by our love, then anything goes and we wind up standing for nothing. The truth therefore, is of utmost importance. Jesus never abandoned truth for the sake of love. We are be loving, even as we speak the truth, just as Jesus did. Thanks for sharing. Much love, friend!

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