Disobeying Christ to Bless Him?

I have just started Frank Viola’s (and now George Barna’s) book “Pagan Christianity?” I have few friends who have been jacked by the “church” after spending decades there, and this book is striking a chord with them. So I thought I should read it as I am becoming increasingly convinced by holding what passes for the American Church up to scripture, that… well… it ain’t.

I got through the introduction, but on the page before the preface, Viola has placed this question from Christ to the Pharisees:

Matthew 15:3
“Why do you yourselves transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? “

I don’t think that is one that I have internalized before. But it is an idea that my husband and I had gotten close to in a letter to our former pastor about the corruption there. I thought I would share that passage here:

“Over and over during our dealing with Bel Air on this problem, we ran into the same ethos. The lie that one can disobey Jesus for the sake of the ministry of Jesus and still be in a relationship with Jesus.”

In both cases, those being confronted have used service to their religion/traditions/methods/process ostensibly as justification for their sin. But as soon as religion/traditions/methods/processes oppose, ignore and trample the word of God, they no longer serve or please God.

They become just another one of man’s worldly ambitions going after his worldly goals, no different than disobeying God for the sake of ones bank account or political career or popularity. Either a process or a ministry approach or a worship method obeys and serves God or it doesn’t. Once it doesn’t any more, it does not matter in what respect it doesn’t, it just matters that it doesn’t.

To disobey Christ to serve tradition, or to serve ministry goals, or to serve the homeless, or to serve your greed, or to serve career ambitions, or to serve your moment of anger, or to serve any end, no matter how lofty or how base you may consider it, is to still to disobey Christ. Why you are doing it is irrelevant.

Chris Rock confronts such a moral dilemma much more plainly:

“You know what they say, “There’s no reason to ever hit a woman.”… There’s a reason to hit everybody. You just don’t do it… there’s a reason to kick an old man down a flight of stairs. You just don’t do it.

It doesn’t matter if you think you have a good reason to sin… just don’t do it.

You cannot disobey Him and glorify Him at the same time. You cannot rebel against Him and be in a right relationship with Him.

And I think possibly the silliest thing that professing Christians do is to justify disobedience to Christ for the sake of the Gospel. “I have to win people to Christ, so I will disobey His direct commands in order to make the gospel more appealing, and thereby win converts”.

“But if we discipline the pastor whom so many come to hear speak on his personal sin, attendance will go down, donations will go down and we won’t be able to rent insert name of massive local venue for our Easter Service and won’t be able to make our city the Greatest City for Christ in America™!”

Because God needs our help to save people?

Because the Holy Spirit is insufficient to convict people of their spiritual bankruptcy and make them long for God’s forgiveness?

Bottom line, we want to do what we want to do to satisfy our desires and ambitions, so we do it. And when we use the traditions and methods that we have invented to supposedly honor God to justify doing what we want to in Christ’s direction, we merely prove our wicked nature, and defend ourselves against having to repent and give up our will to the will of God.

Sin’s circular reasoning.

We are a creative bunch of sinners, aren’t we.

Matthew 18 gives us the clearest direction on what to do when tradition or ministry goals or personal reputation or our job or our relationships or anything causes us to sin. If something has to give, it is not obedience to God, it is the thing that we sinned for.

Matthew 18:8-9

If your hand or your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; it is better for you to enter life crippled or lame, than to have two hands or two feet and be cast into the eternal fire.

If your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out and throw it from you It is better for you to enter life with one eye, than to have two eyes and be cast into the fiery hell.

A graphic word picture to be sure, but pretty clear that when the believer feels he has to sin in the service of his job, his only choice is to quit his job.

And it is an absolutely clear instruction for this in church leadership that if their ministry requires them, to disobey scripture, the “ministry” has to end.

Because it really was only a ministry to the one supposedly ‘ministering’ and not a ministry to God anyway.

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Right Hand Publicity, Inc.

There is much to write about when discussing corruption in the American “church”. Big “churches” with big budgets operating like big businesses and occasionally like big mafia.

The gross sin is certainly important to expose, but usually when you attend a church, you don’t see a sign on the door that says, “Our pastor cheats on his wife with male prostitutes and has a meth problem”. What you may be able to see is that there is sin peppered all over the place, seemingly “lesser sin” that is not just tolerated, but encouraged and directed by the church leadership.

When really examining the health of a church, these are often more interesting, because they are closer to the moment of the spiritual death, if you will. You see the corruption at its early stages. No church is healthy Tuesday, and Wednesday the congregation finds out that the assistant pastor has taken off with the church’s money and it’s secretary. No, the corruption began long before that, as just a little sin that was tolerated, which became bigger sin that was unaddressed, and after a time, fully blossomed into systematic corruption.

But that corruption was born when someone (usually in a power position) stepped off the path that Christ had set, and the church didn’t make him either get back on or leave.

Since leaving a “church” where corruption was fully in bloom, I have become fascinated with the anatomy of how a church becomes corrupted. It happens much the way cancer happens.

It is estimated that 90% of the population has “cancer” at any given time. Cancer is merely cells that have divided incorrectly resulting in two dysfunctional cells. In those with healthy immune systems, those errant cells are recognized and destroyed. In those with broken immune systems, the cancer cells go unrecognized and unaddressed are allowed to keep dividing until they eventually form a tumor and metastasize, killing the body.

So by the time someone is diagnosed with cancer, they have actually had it for many months or even years, but the symptoms were not seen on the surface.

So too, when a church is discovered to be corrupt, it can be traced back months and years to a time when the actual break down in the system of accountability. When confronting sin and exercising church discipline stops, the cancer starts to grow, and it is only a matter of time before the body is dead, and just becomes a social club, civic organization or entertainment arena.

So while there are endless examples out there of full blown apostasy, let’s look at a more subtle example of outright sin that gets skipped over. Usually because this kind of thing is now ubiquitous in the “church” as it has become deaf to God’s wisdom and replaced it with the wisdom of the world.

One of the most obvious phenomenons, when you start paying attention, is how “churches” are promoting themselves.

Here is Christ’s direction for believers:

Matthew 6:2-4

“So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.

“But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Spend an hour on you tube and see how many “churches” have disobeyed Christ in his direction to serve in secret, instead making videos of their good works and posting them on the internet for all to see. Missions trips, building projects, food drives, and on and on. Videos that serve no other purpose than to say, “Look what we did!”.

Here are two videos that inspired this post (in the interest of full disclosure, this our former “church”):

In this video the leader of a group video tapes himself going to donate blood at a drive that they held after the serious injury of a parishioner.

In this local CBS affiliate news story, the press is actually called in to video tape the Thanksgiving food drive and they have been provided with the exact dollar amount that was spent on food for the needy and how many needy it will feed.

Bel Air Presbyterian Donates $40,000 In Food
The Church is donating the food, just in time for Thanksgiving, to 115 needy families and 60 non-profit organizations. Mia Lee reports

These weren’t even videos that went out before or during the events so that others could be notified and participate, they were done after the fact, purely for publicity.

Let me be clear, in no way am I criticizing them for doing these good works, on the contrary. But they didn’t do them in secret.

In complete contradiction with “not letting the left hand know what the right hand is doing”, the right hand has become a public relations firm for it’s own good works. Right Hand Publicity, Inc.

They have chosen the way of the world, issuing press releases that show them doing things that make them look good, and turned their back on the way of Christ, to do good in secret.

And this is not a people that didn’t know any better. In the case of both of these videos, the subjects have been completely briefed on Christs “press blackout” command. The guy in the first video I have known for two decades. He grew up in a Christian home, attended bible college and been in and out of church leadership positions since he was a teenager. He has read Matthew 6. In the second case, the pastor of the church has a Ph.D. in biblical studies and teaches at Fuller Theological Seminary, so it is fair to assume that he either is ignoring Matthew 6, or is an absentee shepherd who is not teaching his staff and doesn’t know what they are doing.

This is not a case where well meaning, over enthusiastic, newbie converts just didn’t know about the right hand/left hand policy.

And as both of these were posted last year, and are still up, (along with the many dozens of others you will find on You Tube) we can see that the accountability system that God set up to teach and hold his disciples accountable is broken. None one has gone to these people and reminded them of, and held them accountable to, Matthew 6.

So if the easy sin to address, self-promotion of good works, is being practiced openly, how likely is it that they will address the difficult sins of lying, adultery, spousal abuse, drug abuse, sexual harassment and assault, fraud, stealing and the like.

If this were a church I didn’t know anything about, I would chance that their immune system is broken and say that it is a pretty safe bet that there is a serious cancer growing there. But as I have reported elsewhere, we have already been witness to the fact that the cancer there has metastasized and the corruption is in full bloom.

But if you showed up to church there on Sunday, you will not see the big tumor (you don’t really get a good look at it until you get involved in leadership and see how problems are handled behind the curtain), but you can see the smaller symptoms, the sin like this that has risen to the surface and remains unaddressed.

So learn from this. Look for the smaller sin that is going unchecked and unaddressed both in your life and in your church. See if the immune system is functioning and attacking the individual cancer cells or the tiny tumors. If not, then it is only a matter of time until the Spirit is gone and the body is dead.

Revelation 3:1-6
Message to Sardis

“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.

Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God.

So remember what you have received and heard; and keep it, and repent Therefore if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come to you.

But you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their garments; and they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.

He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

And it may have already happened.

Confronting Sin in Your Christian Brother

… or sister as it were.

As I have mentioned previously, much of the impetus for starting this blog was to process and write about what I learned during the process of leaving a corrupt church.

Today David, a current member of said church commented on my other blog about what he was seeing there, and I am recommending that he consider moving through a Matthew 18 process of confronting the pastor of the sin of false teaching.

After leaving Bel Air Pres, I wrote a womens bible study, one of the chapters of which included almost all I had learned about confronting sin in a Christian brother, and the AMAZING wisdom of God that is weaved in and our of His instruction on this process.

I am posting it for David, and for you. I should go ahead and post the rest of the study too. It is written in outline form, as it is a track for a discussion and not a book to be read.

The study was entitled Wonder Women Fear God Only.

Wonder Women Sharpen One Another


Proverbs 27:17

Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.

We are commanded to hold each other accountable and make each other stronger. God has given us a brilliant plan for this that keeps all close by his side.

Because we are fallen and sinful, we will have conflicts. God has given us a model for working out those conflicts, whether they are big or small. We are to confront sin and but work toward overlooking personal offenses.

Proverbs 19:11

A man’s discretion makes him slow to anger.
And it is his glory to overlook a transgression.

First make sure your friend has actually “sinned” and not just done something that you didn’t like. What scripture have they violated?.

James 5:16

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Matthew 18 is the instruction manual on how to confront sin. It should be studied and parsed and restudied. (For more on this read The Peacemakers by Ken Sande)

Matthew 18:15-22

If your brother sins go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother.

But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed.

If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as Gentile and a tax collector.

Truly I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall have been bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall have been loosed in heaven.

Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven.

For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst.”

Then Peter came and said to Him, “Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me and I forgive him? Up to seven times?”

Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.”

We tend to confront things in people that we do not like, but to shy away from confronting on sin using scripture. Ironically, both of these can be sin in themselves.

Confrontation is to be for restoration into the body.

2 Timothy 2:24-25

The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged.

With gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth,

And they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.

It is important to note that God is the one who grants repentance. We don’t correct only if we think that the person being corrected will respond well. God tells us just to do it and leave the results up to Him.

2 Timothy 4:2

Preach the world; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.

Galatians 6:1

Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted.

Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.

For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

Temptation comes in many forms, but the biggest temptation when being in the position of confronting someone on sin is to be come arrogant. Tim Keller believes that in order to confront someone on sin correctly, you have to be as grieved over the sin being confronted as the one in sin should be. That you should bear the burden of their sin with them.

*(There is an exception to this ‘gentleness’ principle for religious leaders who will not repent and be accountable for their sin. Christ, Paul, John the Baptist and countless prophets both taught and practiced rebuking such “hidden reefs, false teachers, scribes, hypocrites, and Pharisees” both harshly and publicly, sometimes calling them out by name and even calling them insulting names. See Jeremiah 5, 8 and 23, Ezekiel 23, Matthew 3, Matthew 12:34, Matthew 23, 2 Peter 2, and 1 Tim. 5:20. This harshness may not have been to turn the hypocrite from his sin [as he would likely have done so during private confrontation or upon his own reading and teaching of scripture if he was a true believer with a repentant heart], as much as it was for the protection and teaching of the rest of God’s people who were being lead by, and being victims of, unrepentant, unconfessed sinners who propagated false teaching. This harsh, public rebuke is only for those who have been entrusted with God’s authority, and use it for their own purposes at the expense of the flock).

James 5:19-20

My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

Matthew 7:3-5

Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?

Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye?

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

Note that the passage does not tell us not to take the log out of our brother’s eye, but to first deal with our own sin. This process restores both the confronter and the confronted to Christ, pulling all back into unity in Him.

This verse is also important to keep in mind as you examine your motives if you decide not to confront someone on their sin. Are you choosing not to confront them because you do not want to deal with your own sin? Do you love your log?

Ephesians 4:1-7, 11-16

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called,

With all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love,

Being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace

There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling;

One Lord, one faith, one baptism,

One God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift….

…He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,

For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ;

Until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ.

As a result, we are not longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;

But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ,

From whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.

Unity as believers is a natural by product of unity with Christ. It does not require anyone to be forced or coerced. If we have the same love, the same obedience and the same purpose in life, we will be headed toward the same goal and offering one another grace when we can’t agree on one means of getting there as opposed to another.

I am not really a fan of McManus, but he gives a good illustration of the principle here:

The Cause Driven Church
by Erwin McManus

The early church existed with a dynamic tension; it was both expanding and consolidating – growing and unifying. The Bible tells us that first century believers “shared everything in common” and that “the church was being added to day by day.’ We want our church to live in this same tension.

This tension is illustrated by two biblical images – the body of Christ and the army of God. The body of Christ is centered on community; the army of God is centered on cause.

Healthy community flows out of a unified cause – not the other way around. Jesus called his disciples and said, “Follow me. I’ll make you fishers of men.” This was not an offer of community. “Follow me and I will give you something worthy of giving your life to” is a statement of cause. But the neat thing is, when they came to the cause, they found community like they never knew could exist. That’s the power of the church.

One danger of the American church is that we often try to offer people community with out cause. Without cause, you’re just another civic organization. You don’t have life transformation.

Jesus said, “I have come to the world to seek and to save that which is lost.” The cause of Christ is accomplished by expanding the kingdom of God…

If Wonder Women is just an excuse to get together and talk, unity will be transient, because we are worshiping Community and not Christ. But if it is truly a means for us to submit ourselves to Christ, to worship Him and to refine ourselves for His service, unity will be unbreakable.

Philippians 2:1-11

Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,

make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.

Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;

do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,

who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,

But emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,

So that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

And that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Jesus was God. Although He and He alone had the right to judge and condemn us, He chose to walk among us and even put Himself beneath us, so that we might have a chance at redemption. We, being sinful, certainly have the duty to place ourselves beneath our others so that they might have a chance at redemption. Confrontation of sin in their lives is to be done in such a position of service.

Colossians 3:12-17

So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience;

Bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.

Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.

Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in y our hearts to God.

Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.

When we became repentant of our sins, God forgave us fully and threw our sins ‘as far as the east is from the west’. When others repent of their sins, and ‘bear fruit in keeping with repentance’, we are to do the same and wipe the slate clean for them.

(A common misconception that arises from this verse and that can result in spiritual abuse in the church, is the idea that we as Christians must forgive all sins against us. Not so. We are required to forgive the repentant as Christ forgives us when we are repentant, and may forgive the unrepentant if we so choose, but forgiveness of unrepentant sin is not required of us, as it is not required of Jesus [who does not forgive all sin]. If one chooses not to forgive, and hold someone’s sin against them as they walk through church discipline with them, one must take GREAT care not to become bitter, proud or to hypocritical themselves.)

As you can see, before we confront a sister on her sin, we have a LOT of work to do on ourselves.

Confrontation is not to be done as a reaction to being injured out of selfish anger, but as a proactive act of service to the one being confronted. We are not to elevate ourselves above others, bur follow Christ’s example and consider one another more important than ourselves.

Remember, you are just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.

If when confronted your sister repents:

2 Corinthians 2:7-8

So that on the contrary, you should rather forgive and comfort him, otherwise such a one might be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow.

Wherefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.

Matthew 18:23-35 tells us the story of a man who begged for mercy and was offered it, but would not offer mercy to a repentant man who begged him for it. The end of the story was not pleasant for him. Search your heart. When your sister (or your husband for that matter) has shown repentance, do you still hold a grudge?

If when confronted your sister does not repent after going through the Matthew 18 process:

Titus 3:10-11

Reject a fractious man after a first and second warning, knowing that such a man is perverted and is sinning, being self-condemned.

2 Thessalonians 3:14-15

If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of that person and do not associate with him, so that he will be put to shame. Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Even this is for restoration, so that the person can not be in denial about their broken relationship with God and can be convicted into repentance.

James 5:16

Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Even if fellowship with a believer is broken, we are to continue loving them and encouraging them to come back to Christ, as we would any unbeliever. Time can be spent with them if it is talking about their potential repentance and restoration to Christ, but that should be the extend of the relationship.

Be wise in recognizing who is your “brother” in Christ and who is not:

Matthew 7:15-23

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree product good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

So then, you will know them by their fruits.

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.

Many will say to Me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?”

And I will declare to them, “I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.”

If Jesus said that there would be those who even cast out demons and performed miracles in His name, and yet were not his followers, we need to be careful not to assume just because someone attends church, or even pastors a church, that they know Christ. We are called to look closely at a person’s works to find evidence of their union with Christ.

It is important to note that in a healthy Christian community where the Matthew 18 process is being practiced, such ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing’ are usually prevented from ever getting a foothold in the flock in the first place. When obedience and confession of sin is the norm, one who is unrepentant stands out like a sore thumb.

Scripture tells us that confronting such sheep in wolves clothing will result not in their repentance and restoration into the body but in retribution against the one who confronted them.

Proverbs 9:7-9

He who corrects a scoffer gets dishonor for himself;
And he who reproves a wicked man gets insults for himself.

Do not reprove a scoffer lest he hate you;
Reprove a wise man, and he will love you.

Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be still wiser,
Teach a righteous man, and he will increase his learning.

Matthew 7:6

Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces.

1 John 2:3-6

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments.

The one who says, “I have come to know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him”;

But whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected by this we know that we are in Him:

The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.

1 John 5:2-3

By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments.

For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

When trying to decide if someone is a true disciple of Christ, there are two areas to look at to see what their true character is:

1. What they do in a conflict when they have something to loose.

2. What they do when they think no one is watching

Have you ever corrected someone, only to be attacked for it? Were there any signs in their life in the first place that may have told you that they were not actually a teachable disciple of Jesus Christ?

Have you responded badly to someone’s correction of something that you did wrong? Are you a true and teachable disciple of Jesus Christ?

Are you ready to start LOVING correction????

Speaking the Truth in Anger and Lying in Love

Ephesians 4:15
but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ

There is a dynamic I see being played out in the comments section of Christian blogs everywhere. God has called all of us to, ‘speak the truth in love’, but that seems to be the exception more than the rule.

More than two years ago a serious conflict began with one of my oldest and dearest Christian friends. After months of everyone trying to work things out earnestly, things took a turn for the worse and it was time to abandon the relationship. I wrote to him to say goodbye, and included one of my observations on this dynamic that was preventing the conflict from being healed biblically.

I would like to share part of that letter to him, as it ‘confesses’ my own predilection for sin, explores his and challenges all of us to examine ourselves.

“…From the outset of this [conflict] I have known that if I was going to fall into sin, my predisposition would be to ‘speak the truth in anger’. I have worked hard to keep that from happening and confessed it when it did…

You on the other hand have, and continue to, ‘lie in love’. You believe and speak things that are not true, your decisions on how to handle these problems do not line up with scripture…, but you seem to believe that as long as you have a “good heart” none of that matters. It matters. It is having devastating consequences…”

This seems to be a good analogy (albeit an oversimplification) for what is happening in the hostile discussions taking place between reformed or discernment proponents that are very concerned with presenting God’s unadulterated Truth (of which I am one) and emergents that are very concerned that love be the focus of the church.

But bottom line, when we speak and do not balance the two, we sin. And if we want to keep from falling into sin, we need to know where our weaknesses are so that when we can recognize our flesh when it pops up to take over, confess the sin quickly and get back on the road that God would have us on.

Some of us tend toward lying in love, because we really, truly want to believe the best, even when the evidence is to the contrary, and really want God’s Kingdom to be as inclusive as we can make it. We really, really want the visible church to be God’s Kingdom on earth. But stretching the Word of God beyond that which the text will logically allow, is sin. It is adding to and taking away from scripture. Even when we do it with the best of intentions, it is still making The True God into a golden calf who will be the god that you want him to be. It is sin.

Some of us have become so concerned with getting things correct and defending the true faith, that we loose sight of God’s command to balance our truth with love. We fall into the trap of becoming noisy gongs or a clanging cymbals. We keenly see the danger in the assumption that the visible church, not the invisible church, is God’s Kingdom and are very serious about warning those who think that, because they prayed a prayer once, they are going to heaven. In warning of those dangers we can offer harsh rebuke in cases where the bible does not set a precedent for it.

A few of us, in our relative youth and immaturity, vacillate back and forth between the two.

And there is one person in my life that is able to balance the two when she speaks, and when she has spoken into a conflict, brings the tension in the room from a fever pitch down to safe vulnerability, but she does not speak. Fear of fighting has driven her to retreat from the conflicts in which she could have been a stabilizing force.

We can also change from one extreme to the other in our lives. Where I had spent the first few decades of my life as one who would tend to lie in love, becoming the mother of an autistic child, and then seeing that child get the shaft (even at the hands of professing Christians), drove me from one camp into the other, and since April of 2006, I can say with out hesitation that my tendency now when I sin in this area, it is to speak the truth in anger.

But there is hope for all of us. If we are true disciples of Jesus Christ, and if the Holy Spirit is in us, we can be brought back to the place that we can deal with terribly difficult truths even when our flesh wants to run screaming into denial or defensiveness; and we can be humble and loving and considering others more important than ourselves when dishing out the hard truth, choosing words that provide edification according to the need of the moment.

I know that because last week, all three of us, the woman who was afraid to speak, the man who had such a hard time with the hard truth, and me, the angry autism mom, after two years of God working on us, were able to step outside of our flesh and into the Spirit and do those things which God called us to do.

And in our obedience, God healed the relationships that had been broken for years.

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away… blessed be the name of the Lord!

So here is my question for my commenters, where are you in this picture? When you sin, do you speak the truth in anger like me? Do you lie in love? Or do you fail to speak at all?

Update: Sadly the aforementioned friend was not able to follow through on his attempt to deal truthfully, no repentance of sin followed and the reconciliation fell apart.

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away… blessed by the name of the Lord.