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Your Jesus is Too Safe

I've been quoted in the new book Your Jesus is Too Safe by Jared C. Wilson and I'm really excited about it!  Jared is the pastor at Element Church in Nashville, TN.  We met in the blogosphere around five years ago.  

Ann and I aren't exactly media darlings but we have been picked up here and there because we are willing to talk about us being all jacked up.  Now we are all jacked up so it shouldn't be that big of a deal but since we're willing to talk about being jacked up in a specific marital area of infidelity certain other folks dealing with that topic of being jacked up have found us.  We've been in other books like: Adventures in Holy Matrimony and Reconcilable Differences (chapter 2 Alan and Elizabeth).  And we did manage to get featured on a couple TV shows like American Family with Bettina Gregory (Rebuilding After an Affair) and Good Morning America's piece, Affairs of the Heart.  

Those were all wonderful and hopefully helpful to someone.  Yet they still dealt with a specific form of being jacked up.  

Your Jesus is Too Safe isn't about a specific way of being jacked up it focuses on the fact that we are totally jacked up and need a savior.  And that's awesome!  This isn't a book about marriage problems, infidelity or fixing a marriage.  It's a straight up take on Jesus, who he is, and what he's all about in our jackedupedness.  

Jared likes Mark Driscoll and so does my friend KC.  So this is a book my friend KC may actually read instead of some touchy feely marriage/counseling book.  And I like that.  

It's a beautiful thing to be jacked up and get to the place of knowing that above everything, in the midst of a jacked up world as a jacked up person in love with another jacked up person that my greatest need is Jesus and his grace. 

So Jared found this post called, My Response to an Ugly Email or My Wife is a Beautiful Glorious Woman.

Sometimes in my less than stellar moments of jackedupedness I wonder who in the world wrote this.  Somehow this light emerged from the darkness that clangs within.  

While this is a lot of text to quote I wanted to share it all.  I didn't ask Jared if I could but I don't think he'll mind.  Besides, dude owes me a latte' next time I'm in Nashville.  I negotiated hard to get that as payment for his using this in his non touchy feely straight up book on Jesus.  

. . . I say this is countercultural because forgiveness runs counter to the values and ethics of cultures untransformed by the kingdom of God. Forgiveness is also unnatural because it runs counter to our sinful natures, which demand others live up to personal standards we cannot even meet ourselves. The sinful nature is self-righteous and cannot fathom unmerited favor. Grace can be confusing, bewildering. And even angering.

Ben and Ann Wilson (no relation) are a married couple who are marriage counselors. They maintain a weblog called Marriages Restored[1], which is how I first heard of their incredible story of forgiveness, healing, and restoration.

Ann had an affair, cheating on Ben for a while with another man. Ben had what they call an emotional affair, cheating on Ann with another woman. Today they live and minister as a great witness to the scandal of grace. The following is from Ben and Ann’s blog, quoting from an e-mail they received from a reader:

Ben, Your marriage is not restored. Once your wife cheated on you, you have no marriage. It's over. It is a terrible thing to continue the charade. Turn her our(out?) and get a decent woman who will be faithful. You are just fooling yourself and playing a dishonest game. She is no good and deserves the worst. You are acting like a fool. The Almighty has a decent woman out there for you. Just have the courage to look.[2]

My own initial response to this message is, “Why is it your business, angry man, what these folks choose to do in glorifying God in their marriage?” How ridiculous, how weird it is that the powerful work of forgiveness and healing would spark such a hateful response.           

This is from Ben’s response:

I had not received an email like this before. It just makes me shake my head and wonder what gospel he knows . . .

This Kingdom Journey is not all about me. I do not claim to have the perseverance of Hosea. But I know something of his walk. If I thought only of what brought me the least pain in the moment I would have sent [Ann] out. I would have missed out on what God really means for marriage. I would not know the joy that he has set for us in this life between husband and wife. Suffering does really produce perseverance and perseverance really does produce character and character really does produce hope. Hope in Him. I walked with the bride of my youth through The Valley and we both entered into His Hope.

My Lord and Savior did not send women out. He castigated the men who thought themselves worthy of doing so. He chastised the ones who said thank God I am not like the sinner. He treated the hearts of women like treasures of great value instead of viewing women as a mere possession.

Jesus encountered the adulterous woman . . . And then he offered her great words of hope. He conveyed to her that she was not her worst behavior. She was more than a woman who slept around. She could leave that life of sin and be more.

My Ann is more. She is more. The pain of her sin has been used by God to make her even more beautiful and glorious. It is Father's great gift to me that I am permitted to be her husband.

Ben Wilson is a guy who gets the scandal of grace, the outright offense that the life of grace is. Where this angry, ignorant e-mailer only saw the sin, Ben sees a gift. “It is the Father’s great gift to me that I am permitted to be her husband!” That is such an inconceivable reversal of perspective.

Please notice how that perspective begins. It was informed to a great extent by Ben copping to his own sins. He writes earlier:

I too deserved to be turned out. I was let into this party undeserved myself. I was a drunk. I missed my son's first birthday getting drunk at a golf course. I blasphemed. I didn't provide for my family. I lived a coward's life then.

I could fill up an entire blog of why I do not deserve this gracious love of [the] Father.

The spirit of Christian forgiveness is not “I forgive you because I’m a nice person,” but “I forgive you because I know I desperately need forgiveness myself.” We forgive as we have been forgiven.[3] I forgive your sin because God has forgiven mine.



[1] http://marriages.typepad.com/marriages/

[2] Ben Wilson, “My Response to an Ugly Email or My Wife is a Beautiful Glorious Woman.” Weblog entry. August 13, 2004. (http://www.marriages.typepad.com/marriages/2004/08/grafted_in_to_t.html)

[3] Matthew 6:12