What can we learn from the Rick Warren tragedy?

This past Saturday morning the news came out about Rick Warren’s son committing suicide (http://tinyurl.com/cdlbeuz). I was deeply saddened even though my only contact with Pastor Warren has been through his books. As a father I can only imagine the great sorrow he is suffering at this moment. As a pastor I understand the difficulties of trying to align God’s purposes—especially verses like Romans 8:28—with tragic moments in our own lives.

Truth be told, trouble comes to us all. No matter our religious affiliations or beliefs, no matter our socioeconomic status, no matter our race or heritage, we will all have moments of deep tribulation and sorrow. Yes, even men like Rick Warren, who have revolutionized the modern church movement, will suffer from tragedy in their lives. We all walk through the valley of the shadow of death at some point.

What I love is how the community of faith has rallied around him during this time. People of all denominations and creeds have come together to pray for the Warren family during their time of need. Isn’t this what Christianity is truly about?

I struggle a lot with modern Christianity. I’m frustrated that so many people claim to be “Christian” yet lack the common courtesies and grace that Jesus demonstrated on the cross. Instead of working to uplift each other, so many take tragic moments and try to tear people down.

Sometimes, the old phrase seems so true: “No army is better than killing their own wounded than Christians.”

Every pastor is imperfect. Every leader is imperfect. And so are you. Is maligning each other for our faults really the best use of the precious time that God has given to us? Should we reduce ourselves to slander, gossip, and backbiting in order to promote some imagined “greater good?” Is politicking against people really what God wants you to do? This happens way too much in the Christian landscape. Especially when people are already down.

And I daresay that in many churches, “Christians” are doing more work for the enemy than promoting the goodness of God. Then we wonder why people don’t want to be Christian…

If there is anything positive to take away from this tragedy, it’s how people are right now lifting up a man who is presently suffering in his life. Even though many of us cannot personally do anything to help, the prayers of a multitude are reaching up into heaven and bringing comfort. In other words, this type of outpouring of love is the church’s way of demonstrating true Christianity. We mourn with those who suffering and celebrate with those who are experiencing joy.

My prayer is that our Christian communities would begin to rally around each other more. I hope that instead of prideful rebellion, immaturities, and insensitivities, we would demonstrate the true love that Christ showed for us all. I’m glad that the community of faith has rallied around Rick Warren, and I wish that all Christians would see the value of loving, uplifting, and praying for one another.

Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working. James 5:16