Friday, March 2, 2012

The Space Between

These fickle, fuddled words confuse me ...

I recently read the book The Christian Atheist by Craig Groeschel. He related the real-life anecdote about a legal squabble between a pastor and the owner of a local watering hole that was funny on one level, but also kind of thought provoking on another. The pastor had asked his church to pray that God would shut down the bar given that he felt it was not a Godly venue. At this request, the whole church gathered for an evening prayer meeting, pleading with God to rid the area of this amoral den of iniquity. A few weeks later, lightning struck the bar and it burned to the ground.

When the bar owner got wind of the church's prayer crusade, he moved to sue the church. When the court date finally arrived, the owner of the bar leveled his passionate charge that God struck his bar with lightning because of the prayers. The pastor squirmed on the witness stand, trying to dance around the issue and to brush off the accusations. He admitted that his church had prayed, but he quickly added that nobody really expected anything to happen. At this the presiding judge revealed a measure of amusement and confusion when he said, "I can't believe what I'm hearing. Right in front of me is a bar owner who believes in the power of prayer and a pastor who doesn't."

This reminds me of a similar story told by pastor Mark Batterson in his recent work The Circle Maker, where he and a team from his church went and laid hands on a local auto shop praying that God would drive it out of business because they considered this property an eyesore. In relatively short order, it did go belly up. Makes me wonder if a lawsuit is on the way and how Pastor Batterson would respond in court.