Over the last 4 years I have been a part of the leadership team at NewSpring Church. It has been a great privilege to be a part of the work God is doing in His church here. It has also been a privilege to move into ministry and get a first hand look at the life of one called into such labor. I love it and pray that God will allow me to do what I do until the day I die.
My first visit to NewSpring was a result of hearing the pastor of the church I was attending say something derogatory about this “church in town”. Being one who was full of pride (I didn’t really know this at the time, but in hindsight I do now) based on knowing all about God and the bible, I felt it my duty to evaluate the place and then heap my own, well informed, condemnation on this “church in town”. I mean, it was my responsibility to protect God’s good name, so it was something I had to do.
Needless to say, that first visit didn’t leave me with chest stuck out and my nose in the air… God used that first visit to break my heart with His truth and instead I found my head in my hands and tears flowing from my eyes. That was the first time I had ever seen Perry Noble or heard him teach. I went into the church looking for any out of line syllable and was met with the force of Truth – the whole Truth – taught in a practical way.
Fast forward five years and here I sit not as one who has seen or heard Perry preach a couple of times but as one who literally lives life with the guy. He first became my pastor, then my friend, then the one who asked me leap into ministry full time and be a part of what God was doing at NewSpring.
Over the last few years I have seen Perry verbally attacked in just about every way imaginable. Today if his name or NewSpring’s appears in a blog post, newspaper article, tv news story, radio talk show or even a casual conversation… everyone has an opinion… some of them very negative… some even go beyond questioning the ministry and actually question the man… his motives and his methods… some even dig into his personal life… I have yet to see one of these negative comments come from someone who actually knows Perry.
I know him. I have been with Perry when things are great and when things are really bad. I have seen him preach in front of thousands and I have seen him lying on a gurney very close to death. I have helped him plan amazing church services and I have talked with him about a staff person who’s hurting. I have laughed with him over the silliest things and I have wept with him over the most important things. I have seen him battle demons and I have watched him hold his daughter like nothing else matters in the world. I have argued with him and I have held his hand in prayer. I have seen the inside of his bible (which is cluttered from so much time spent in it) and I have seen his heart broken over idle words said or printed that are lies about him. I have been with him as he patiently talks to people who approach him at the most inappropriate times and I have heard his vision and passion for people to know Jesus when it was just the two of us. I have watched him give away his time and resources to all sorts of people (including church planters) and I have felt his hurt when those same people take advantage of his kindness.
I could go on and on… but the bottom line is… I know him… do you?
There seem to be too many people who claim to know Jesus that want to spend most of their time in the seat of scoffers. And my primary concern for those who sit in the scoffers seat and cast hate toward this man I know… is that I’m afraid that they are just proving that they don’t know Him. Oh, just to be clear… I don’t mean that the scoffers don’t know Perry… I’m afraid they don’t know Jesus. My fear is that their hate toward a man they don’t know is just evidence that they don’t know a Man they can know.
I Corinthians 8:1-2
But while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. Anyone who claims to know all the answers doesn’t really know very much. But the person who loves God is the one whom God recognizes.
I John 2:9-11
Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him.
So, I pray that the haters out there will remove their focus from the person they don’t know and probably never will and begin to focus on the One who they can know. Then we all can rejoice together and marvel at what God is doing in the lives of those who need Him.