It’s Not About Just Emoting

There’s something that’s bothered me for many years about the kinds of Christians that have been growing up in our churches.

Here’s the moving rendition of the song, “Charity,” by Kelly Willard, where the words of I Corinthians 13 are set to music.

CHARITY (Love) by Kelly Willard

So, the questions that I have are: when we have listened to the song and been caught up in the emotion, have we actually shown the love of Christ to one person? If we sing the song ourselves, and it moves our hearts, have we genuinely loved one person?

The song is a valuable aid to understanding and reflecting on the words of scripture, and it can be a valuable reminder to believers. I do believe that we sing it in our churches far too infrequently. But singing about it and feeling it is not the same as doing it. I think that we have far too often confused an overwhelming sense of pity for people in affliction and difficulty for the actual exercise of Christlike love.

I think that we’ve become far too accustomed and habituated in our churches and among our fellow believers to emoting about scriptural matters. We’re very good at that. But we’re also one of the least discerning generations of believers in many, many years. My personal thought is that we’re probably also the least careful and engaged generation of believers that have had free access to printed Bibles since the Reformation. Are we aware that Jesus is not so concerned about how much or how deeply we may feel as much as whether we know, believe and follow his Word?

Wicked Schemes: The Social Behavior of the Abuser

I’d like to recommend to every church leader the recent blog post of Boz Tchividjian: The wicked scheme of child offending church leaders: A house of cards. In it he describes what I’ve described elsewhere as The Social Behavior of the Abuser. It’s noteworthy that his description doesn’t apply just to child abusers but to those who formulate a wicked scheme to exploit another person or persons for their own wicked and selfish ends. And this wicked and selfish end might be no more than trying to make themselves look much better than they are at the expense of someone else. Though I’ve heard church leaders pooh-pooh that wicked and selfish purpose as nothing to be concerned about, it does add up to the transgression of the commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.”

One thing that I’m sure of after forty years of following Christ and having had various levels of involvement with churches of various sizes and in various denominations: people do not run from a church where the church consistently shows them the love of Christ. They do run from intrusive and controlling people.

One thing that I have also noticed over the past generation: most pastors, elders and church leaders do not take Galatians 6:1 to heart: “Brothers and sisters, if any of you is caught in some transgression, you who are spiritual straighten that person out in a spirit of gentleness, as you watch out for yourself, that you yourself might not be tempted.” For too many in church leadership, this seems to have devolved into – at best —  just watching out for those in egregious sexual sin and banishing and expelling them. But I would venture that it would include watching out and correcting the habitually intrusive and controlling person – the church busybody, often enough – or that person whom you see having the last conversation with a person before that person runs from your church. But again, the problem here might also be that a pastor or church leader may not realize that that person is himself or herself, and that you’ve been blindsiding, harassing and tormenting fellow believers with your wicked, self aggrandizing schemes – maybe even for decades. And unfortunately, so many at this point of realization may become embarrassed – but go no further. If you see yourself here, realize that embarrassment is not repentance, and it’s really not the godly sorrow that lead leads to a repentance that leaves no further regrets in its wake. It rather astonishes me that so many that I’ve known who have had the greatest chutzpah to interfere in the lives of others are the biggest cowards when it comes to setting things right when they are most blatantly wrong and hurtful – to repent scripturally and do restitution scripturally where possible. So then, if you see yourself here,  confess your sinful, wicked schemes before God and man with as many tears as it takes for as long as it takes.