First of all, if you like the new Nailed It (or the old one!) it looks like you can leave Amazon ratings. I must confess, I’m bad at this. I relish a good Amazon Review but I always find myself stuck when it comes to the point of writing them myself. Nevertheless, I have a list of ten books I love that I’m about to go write reviews for, because it really does help, and because I like these books–ALL OF THEM. It’s so strange to think of the algorithmic nature of life now. There doesn’t seem to be any way to avoid living in a world where other people get to decide what’s most important.
Which is not exactly true, actually. We all have our own choices in front of us, even when it feels like other people might be determined to make them for us. That was my thought as I watched this sermon yesterday after reading this article. I don’t know if anyone at Vanity Fair meant to be funny, but there were some great bits:
“Sorry if you were bummed to find out I am married, I could tell you kind of were,” Lentz later texted, according to Ranin. At that point, Ranin used his phone number to figure out who he was, and, she said, “my mind was blown.” The relationship continued for some time—“he told me that when he met me,” Ranin said, “God told him to tell me that I need to know my worth and there’s something special about me…whatever whatever”—but they broke up last week, and Ranin decided to go public with the relationship so that Lentz’s followers would know “there was another person on the other side of his statement that got hurt.”
I love that, “bummed out,” and “whatever whatever.” And the end:
“I told him that he’s living a lie and he will always be a liar,” Ranin said. “I told him he’s a selfish human being and a narcissist.” She added that Lentz told her they’re both “beautiful, broken people who found each other and collided” but “need help.” But only one of them pretended to be a sports agent in Domino Park.
I confess, I then went and looked at all the pictures in the more clickbaity article, as a matter of pure morbid curiosity. There are lots of Instagram photos of the person to whom Mr. Lentz lied, as well as some of his wife and children, several of Justin Beiber, and one of Oprah. I’m not going to link it, because it wasn’t in very good taste, and I shouldn’t have given way to my own prying, gossipy nature.
As is so often the case, if you listen to the sermon, which is from sometime in September, you will hear an impassioned lyrical emotional plea for everyone to embrace kindness and grace, which seems to be the usual way that a man preaches right before he is found out. I expected it to be awful–and certainly, the exegesis was as shallow as a murky puddle, and there was no fleshing out of, what do you call it…the cross–but bits of it were good and interesting. The trouble for all of us is that we give ourselves away when we don’t mean to. So that’s too bad.
I saw someone on Twitter explain that the real lesson here is no more than that men–yes even pastors–commit adultery. You don’t have to comb over his theology or the fact that he was swimming in the theological pool of Hillsong. Men are wicked and do wicked things, that’s the lesson. And I do agree entirely. Small-time, unknown people fall into this sin as readily as anyone, especially today when the call of the world to be special and important is so deafening.
Anyway, I think what I liked most about the sermon is that it seemed as if the mercy of God might have been that moment creeping in. A person who begins to truly meditate on the kindness of God will inevitably end up at the foot of the cross–I think…I mean, I don’t know, but I have seen it often happen. Because God is kind, when you look at him as he is, you see the nature of your own cruelty and your own lying. From there to real repentance is but an awkward, life-saving step.
I hope that this poor man goes away into true obscurity to be saved. I hope that the temptations of the world and his own flesh are stripped away so entirely that he doesn’t turn out to be “always a liar.” I hope that his wife and children are swept up in God’s mercy too, somehow. I applaud Hillsong for their quick action, and pray that they find themselves looking more clearly at the cross. After all, as Mr. Lentz himself said, it’s about transformation, and you can’t do that on your own.