Dust Became Mercy: A Word About My Friend Tullian
The world crucifies the church.
The church crucifies its best.
And all that’s left then, of the absolutely needed Gospel of Christ’s mercy, is dust.
On January 6, 1961, an episode of “The Twilight Zone” was broadcast entitled—you guessed it—“Dust.” I wouldn’t talk about it if I hadn’t seen it myself that very Friday night. But I did, and it made an impression. What happened in the show is that a handful of dust was turned, by an act of prestidigitation, into a contagion of forgiveness and good will, by which a condemned man (on the gallows!) was forgiven, and an entire town converted to goodwill and compassion. A traveling magic act turned out to be the occasion of God’s Providence (Rod Serling used that very word in his script).
Dust became Mercy.
Well, in 2015 Tullian Tchividjian was turned to dust! Or rather a Twilight Zone form of dust. This is because everything Tullian thought he had, and everything he thought he was, got pulverized. Everything on which he had prided himself got pulverized. Tullian got turned to dust.
And, just like in that immortal half hour from 1961, God has turned Tullian’s dust into gold. In fact, Tullian now has MORE to say, and more to help sufferers with, than ever before.
Behold a wonder! Tullian Tchividjian, the man of God, a pulverized human being, a handful of dust converted to the noblest art of all, the redemption of similarly self-barricaded human hearts.
What Tullian brings to the equation is the equation of desperate suffering that hems us in, every single one of us—the Cold Equations of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, the absolute law of proportionate justice and equivalent punishment. What Tullian brings to the equation is the exact thing the world needs now.
And the reason he can bring this to us is that he has been ground to dust himself, as all of us will be after we are buried in the earth, or above it. Tullian is a remarkable instance of what Wesley said the church ought to be doing (and never does, never, never, never) which is to preach God’s Word as one dying chaff soul to other dying chaff souls.
I would go so far as to say that Tullian’s personal experience, as bad as you want to make it out, has qualified him (and qualified him brilliantly!) to preach the Gospel.
Please understand, I do not speak as one who is uninformed about Tullian. Bob Seger sang a song in 1980 entitled “Some Day, Lady, You’ll Accomp’ny Me” (it’s a good song and appears on a good album). With Tullian, I tried to put those words into present action.
In other words, I have accompanied Tullian throughout his journey of the last few years, and without interruption. I was there when he first went to Coral Ridge. I was there at three of the four LIBERATE conferences. I was there when things went south in Fort Lauderdale, and there right after things went south. I was there when Tullian moved to Orlando, and there when he moved away from Orlando. I was there when Tullian moved to Texas and was there (i.e. with him) the whole time he was in Texas. And I have been there as he has returned to South Florida. In short, I have tried to live up to the Jackson 5 song I prize so: “I’ll Be There” (1970).
I feel it’s important to say this, so the reader will know that Tullian has not been “a fugitive from justice,” but rather he has been “under supervision” (and I mean, pastorally) the whole time. From lies to truth, from running to repentance—I’ve been through it all with him—and I’ve never abandoned ship. I hope I never will. What Tullian is about is too important. So there!
The affirmation of this website is that the world needs Tullian and that Tullian has what Jackie DeShannon sang it needed: “What the World Needs Now is Love.” What Tullian offers is more profound even than the words of that enduring song. What the world needs now is the pulverized residue of a life forcibly taken, in the school of hardest knocks both self-inflicted and imposed by the world. A life taken away, that life turned to dust—that is the life Tullian knows…inside out.
In short, we need the “Immortal Dust” concerning which Rod Serling wrote so affectingly when I was a child. I want to become that benign dust myself. Or rather, when I’m getting ready to turn to dust, I want Tullian’s message of One-Way Love turned straight in my direction. So help me, God.