4.13.2008

Why Christianity doesn't work (Part 4)

I know it has been awhile since I last posted however, in my defense I am getting married soon and that owns my life currently!

Anyways to the task at hand.

In this discussion I want to bring to light the idea of guilt and emotionalism within the church.

This isn't a new idea, I grew up Roman Catholic, I know what guilt is, let me tell you. However, one of the main things that drew me to become "evangelical" so to speak was the idea of having a relationship with a God that loved me and cared for me, not one that was constantly looking over my shoulder waiting to kick my a** when I did something wrong.

That being said, we protestants, evangelicals, new reformed, whatever you call yourself, love guilt, we just package it another way.

My understanding is that there are two different ideas in this regard, there is guilt which makes you feel horrible about when you have done something wrong, or haven't met the mark in some regard, and their is "conviction" which is church’s word to make you feel bad about something you have done!

Paul writes:
The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don't you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (Romans 5-6)

Paul sums up Christianity in this passage in my opinion. This is the idea of our relationship with God. We are saved by grace, we live in grace, we will mess up, it’s the reality. However the law allowed for sin to abound all the more, but with idea of sin, grace, and Jesus we have a hope and a prayer to have an interesting, good, pleasing relationship with God.

Elsewhere Paul writes:
"Everything is permissible for me"—but not everything is beneficial. "Everything is permissible for me"—but I will not be mastered by anything. (1 Cor 6)

We are not bound by anything but God's laws. As a believer and follower of Christ my motivation should be to please Jesus only, no one else. My relationship is based on my closeness to my savior!

So why then do I tithe, lift my hands in worship, read my bible, pray? If I am honest, if you're honest it is because I feel guilty if I don't. Guilt is not something that God makes us feel. It's others.

I mentioned “conviction” is the word the church uses, well, because it biblical. However the church isn’t the one who is supposed to convict, it is the Holy Spirit. Conviction brings about change to make you better, guilt brings about an urge to make yourself feel better.

If I am honest as stated above, guilt is my motivation for doing many of the things I do in church. If I don’t tithe I feel bad because I’m supposed to give 10% to be a good Christian and receive God’s “blessing.” If I don’t raise my hands in worship ESPECIALLY when I don’t feel like it I feel bad because I need to “worship” God at all times even when I don’t want to.

From my infancy to now in my relationship with God I do things because others say I should not because I want to.

However my motivation for all things should be to please the one who gave me life! The one who will change me and shape into a better human. I should give because I want to please God not because someone tricks me to, I want to worship God because I want to know him more, not because I’m trying to show others I can lift my hands…

I want a deeper relationship for the sake of knowing what it means to have Jesus as my King…to sit in his temple and be at his feet…

As a church leader I never want to show pictures of starving kids to raise funds to a cause, or to tell people that they are not good followers of Christ if they don’t worship at a certain time or place, or certain way and find scripture to fit that thought so I can shape what Church should look like. I want to preach a saving relationship with God, a brand new life through Christ, and an empowered life through the Holy Spirit, and let them do their thing in that person’s life and cause them to change as they seek a deeper relationship with our God.

I want to Preach Jesus and let his words and love make people who God created them to be…and support and encourage them along the way as they try, fail, succeed, fall, and get up, cry, laugh and be a messed up human seeking a perfect God.

Next blog Part 4 con’t (Emotionalism)

5 comments:

Dan Richardson said...

Amen brother! (Maybe you should do a post on Christianeze too)

This is a tough post to digest because there's an element of challenging people to move closer to Jesus. And in the spirit of "not being guilted", it's so easy for people to pull out the "don't guilt me card" and get their feelings hurt.

Don't get me wrong, I understand the direct approach of telling people they suck. But sometimes, reality sucks. And if the reality is that I have a problem with money and don't want to give it because I like it too much and think that it's all mine, when I hear a pastor even reference money, my stomach is going to knot up and I'm going to get defensive and accuse him of guilt tripping me. And personally, I think a lot of people just really need to suck it and deal with what God is really saying.

Do you think it's possible for the Holy Spirit to use people as a method of convicting others, i.e., a pastor? And do we feel guilty because we know we're wrong but it's just easier to blame the pastor/presenter because it gives us a way out so we don't have to act on it? I don't know.

I totally understand what you are saying and I try really hard to make sure that I don't come across in a way that manipulates people or makes them feel like crap. At the same time I challenge them to move closer to Jesus. I guess finding the right tension (not balance because it doesn't exist) is what I struggle with.

Geoff said...

There definitely is a place for the Pastor to say things, however the only time I think that is right is when it happens naturally, without motive. That is, he is reading scripture and it naturally flows from the there, and then the Holy Spirit convicts, not thinking, Damn it all to hell we have no money okay time to find scripture about giving!

Dan Richardson said...

Ya I definitely see that. That hard part to deal with is some people just feel that every time the pastor talks about something hard from Scripture, he MUST have an ulterior motive. When in reality, if he's in the right place spiritually, he's going to feel just as uncomfortable as the next guy and have to face it and deal with it as well.

Not sure if there's a solution, it just sucks that some people will always think that. Those people usually leave anyways and sometimes that's a good thing.

Adam Green said...

Geoff. At first I was like, what the H, E, double hockey sticks is he getting on about?! Guilt? please!

Then I started thinking and it made sense! But if I could give you another example of guilt that is so prevalent in Christian culture - looking at our heroes with rose-colored glasses!

We look at Paul, Constantine, Augustine, Luther, Calvin etc as if they were super-Christians ignoring their struggles (most of that list contains womanizers and murderers - post conversion!) as if they had none! That's a breeding ground for guilt!

However, I do think pastors can bring up sin in someones life with a motive - otherwise you'd be hard pressed to tell anyone anything! The motive of course has to be a good motive.

Somewhere along the way we tried to make pastors the 'cool guy I can talk to' when really the name has in it the connotation of not only guiding but disciplining as well (that's why shepherds carried big sticks!).

Geoff said...

Adam I agree exactly, I think it is totally the pastors role to discipline my point is motive, just like Dan talked about there is a place to share scripture...

I believe there is something in there about the word being about teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness!!

I think the issue is that Christians are asked to pretend and keep their skeletons carefully hidden! We need to be open and honest in our sin and struggles and successes and joys!