Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Note on No More Christian Butt Kicking
(Here's my response to someone's thoughtful note about yesterday's post, "No More Christian Butt Kicking." My response is first, followed by his comment from yesterday.)
Thanks for your note.
The controversial part is not IF we start behaving well, THEN we will no longer need a butt kicking—the problem is that a good verbal assault will never produce true Christian change. It might induce some temporary behavioral alteration (reading the Bible, being nicer, saying “Please” and “Thank you,” etc.), but God will not be involved; flesh (some call it “self effort”) will be at work.
Those who receive and believe “Christian tongue lashings” will not know and love God more—not actually, not really. They may look better, but their hearts will likely be far from God—no intimacy will be had. They often become terribly self-focused, because they’re usually afraid of stepping out of line. And they often become the behavior monitors of the church, modern-day Pharisees. They are usually negative and pessimistic. Few will actually want to cozy up to them because they know that a painful examination is imminent.
I suggest that those who are misbehaving in your church and who “need to be taken over the proverbial Knee of God and given a real good butt whoopin.” have already been kicked enough by those who misrepresent Him. The eyes of their hearts are likely droopy or closed altogether. Church for them—Christianity for them—is most often now a sad, frustrating, boring and empty experience that requires a decent performance now and then. Like on Sunday.
What they need is the Spirit-given truth about what God has done for them (made them holy, blameless, righteous and perfect sons), who they have become as a result (the dwelling place of God—the modern day Holy of Holies, the ambassadors of Christ, ministers of His incredible gospel), and how now to live by faith that He is correct about them (life by the Spirit, and not life by the flesh). This is what's lacking—the truth, which, when the Holy Spirit reveals it to them, makes all the change necessary. They become genuine lovers of God, truly hungry and obviously thirsty for Him. Obedience and behavioral change will be the evidence of reciprocal love.
Butt kicking is counterproductive. Worse—it might change their behavior while leaving them practically empty.
I suggest a couple of books for you. Virtually anything by Steve McVey (Grace Walk is an excellent place to start), my own book (Better Off Than You Think), or The Rest of the Gospel, by Dan Stone and Greg Smith.
I would be happy to send you a copy of mine—just ask.
The controversial point is that IF we (collective we) start doing and behaving as we have been told to do, then we will no longer need the "butt kicking" that you so eloquently suggest preachers stop giving us. A good many of the professing Christians that I am surrounded by behave both in public as well as inside the church like they need to be taken over the proverbial Knee of God and given a real good butt whoopin. As Joanne said above, If ... you put to death the deeds of the flesh... . The problem is that too many Christians do not do that. You seem to be ranting about a sermon that you do not feel you need to hear. This is more than likely correct. What about the rest of that congregation? Is there no one listening to that sermon that is in dire need of a Butt Kicking? You're rant has a lot of IF's. My point is that most do not do the IF's you mention. I hear your rant about the sermon. What then is personal Bible study for? What then is Small Group Bible study for?