Mark Steele: Man on a Christianish Mission
- Tuesday, August 04, 2009
In acknowledging our rough stuff, we have to surrender. There’s an incident you talk about involving your two older sons and how they were caught disobeying. Will you talk a little bit about how differently each responded to discipline and what we can learn from their examples?
My sons are wonderful. They’re the best kids I could possibly have, but they’re kids. As Christianish goes into, one day I caught them disobeying and they very quickly, simultaneously, lied about it—a ridiculous lie that made absolutely no sense. It resulted in each of them getting spanked. It talks about the ordeal that happens in the way Jackson deals with punishment and the way Charlie deals with punishment.
The reason I love this story is because you think it’s going to be an example of how Charlie’s way is better, because Charlie is just very quickly subservient and takes the spanking while Jackson, on an epic scale, resists the punishment and fights it. Where the chapter actually goes is that the reason in some ways Jackson’s resisting of the punishment is better is because we see Jackson’s rough stuff. We know exactly where we stand with the struggles that he wrestles with. And by the end of that wrestling match, that involves us as parents as well. We see change. On the other hand, we’ve got Charlie going through the motions doing all the exact right things but we don’t know where his heart is playing in the role.
God is looking for heart transformation, and most of the time heart transformation requires showing a side of ourselves we don’t want people to see. But unless we show them the part of us we don’t want them to see, they also won’t see the heart transformation. Witnessing heart transformation is one of the most powerful transformative powers for other people in this world, because they understand that Christ is pure—but what is completely irrational to a world seeking the truth is why I, a failed human being, would wrestle with right and wrong and choose right. And if they can see me wrestle and make the right choice, it’s a huge witness.
You also talk about the Church’s “acceptable addiction” which is our need to be seen as correct—and not only that Christ be seen as the way, but rather that our personal approach be as seen as "the way" to the way. Where is the balance between standing for Truth and not pushing people away?
There is a fine balance. God does want us to stand for absolute Truth and for integrity and character and to stand up for what we know is right and against what we know is wrong. But he did not call us to hate people. And the trickiest part of our faith is this: The Word of God makes it clear that it is God’s job and role to convict people into life change. Nowhere in Scripture does it make that the human being’s role. It is a human being’s role to love a person to Jesus.
Now, the problem here is you do have a lot of people in the Church who buy into that scripture. But what they do to love people to Jesus is they okay the sin issues, and they water down the faith and that’s not acceptable either. We’ve got to find a new language, a new dictionary that communicates, “You know what? I do disagree with your belief system. I do disagree with your way of life, but I still like you as a person." And their response is always, “But you think I should change, don’t you?” And to which should be our answer: “You know what? It doesn’t matter if I think you should change. It matters if you’re willing to accept the love of Christ. Once you accept the love of Christ, he’s going to change your heart.
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