Tough Love can be a hard thing to understand. In discussions with good friends and replies to my recent post I see that there is both a disconnect to what I’m sharing about and a misunderstanding (potentially a desire to get out of being challenged). Tough Love is only good when covered in grace and a desire for community and the betterment of the ones we are challenging (loving toughly).
First off, and I guess for those that don’t know me (read my other blogs and you’ll see my heart) I should explain something. My heart is all about the Kingdom of God advancing. Whether it be lives being changed in your small group, people coming to know God at your work place or the Holy Spirit at work in your local church community. I really don’t care what reference point people are using for their community. It can be a church of 2 people to a mega church of 20000. My focus is simply this..How can we do what we are doing better, more passionately and become more effective in building the Kingdom of God.
I’m not about the “corporate church” in the sense that I don’t believe that our church service (2 people or 20000) on whatever day your church get’s together is the be all and end all. I’m stuck between two ideas when it comes to the event/service churches put on. On one side I want the community to care if your (or mine) church burnt to the ground this week because the local church family has planted great seeds and works of love within that community. On the other hand I think maybe the community shouldn’t care because it wasn’t the building or event that was making the difference. It was the people within it doing the work, and with or without the building they will continue to do it.
So in essence my heart is simple. Do what you are doing the best you can for the Kingdom of God. And second, Love people as hard and much as you can.
I think this is where the disconnect happens when you say things like purge and challenge people to do something with their time and money. It comes across as not loving. From my perspective my last post is completely contradictory to “not loving”. My heart in this is to challenge people to become passionate and committed to the Kingdom of God (church as in all Christians). The concept of purging isn’t one that kicks people to the curb, but one that encourages and helps people find a community in which they can be passionate about. One in which they can give (time and finances) too because they are passionate about the people they are involved with and the vision the community has for building the Kingdom of God.
Now I assume that those that have commented or felt concern with my last post are giving much of their time and money to the Kingdom of God. A few of the comments on my last post really resonated with me. The first was the image the word of God gives us referring to the believers as the Body of Christ. It’s a great image of what our community should look like and I agree whole heartedly with her. My point is this. There is 20% (historically) of the people who are in the community that are actually connected and committed to the BODY. If they are the hairs, or the feet, they are committed and involved. The image I was giving was the 80% that aren’t. They are not hairs or feet. They are not committed or connected. In fact instead of being connected to the body they are leaching from it. They are a parasite to the body, taking but giving nothing to the Kingdom of God. With that being said there are many reasons as to one becomes a parasite and my focus is to help them figure out why they are (either laziness, self-centeredness or they aren’t connected to the vision and perhaps need to find a place where they can be).
It’s simple, going to church because it’s an occurrence on your schedule is doing nothing for the Kingdom of God, your local community or yourself. I’d even go as far as to say if you are just going, your probably leaching the passion and potential ability to cause change because negativity is contagious and draining on the people laboring for the cause.
The other point that resonated with me was the idea that our volunteers should be able to do anything “through Christ that strengthens me”. Well that is true, and biblical. My concern with that concept is it has a unique ability to be taken out of context. If someone decided to stay up without any rest for 1 week so they could focus on building the Kingdom of God (in whatever way they think is fit) would that scripture still work? Sure it’s possible for God to give them the strength their body needs but remember this; God also designed our bodies to rest.
Now I’m sure the slaves throughout our history have leaned on the concept of receiving strength from God. The question I have is should they have had to rely on that? I mean does the fact that God will give them strength make it all right that others made them need it? Especially when there are others more than capable of taking some of the load off of them. You see, this all goes back to relationships. If my wife did 80% of the work around the house and all I did was watch, and occasionally complain about how she did some of the work how long will that relationship remain healthy? Secondly, how long will she be committed to doing 80% of the work. Sure she can do all things through Christ that strengthens her but should she have too?
In James it talks about the concept of Faith being dead without works. Now a lot of us Pentecostals are afraid of this verse because you see we are saved by Grace. Well that’s not what this is talking about. It’s focus is on Us, not God. It’s not saying God doesn’t love us unless we do works. It’s saying we Don’t love God unless we do works for him. Now that’s a really generic and harsh way of saying it so let me share it like this.
If I am passionate about building a house (or have faith that a house can be built) is that enough to build the house? Or do I need to apply my passion to some work to see the house actually become something more than an idea. It’s not our faith that gets things done. And if we aren’t passionate about actually doing the work to see what we want done, perhaps we aren’t as passionate about the thing we thought we were passionate about.
The beautiful thing about your local faith community is that there is really nothing else like it. There are very few things you become involved with that have the generational spread that a church community has. It’s amazing to see a healthy family. And I guess where my passion for people to become more involved with their local faith community lies is in the fact that it’s such a great opportunity to help others grow. In Psalms 78 it talks about the generations of believers. It also talks about making sure the next generation doesn’t become lazy and indifferent. Well it actually says this in verse 8 talking about the children: They would not be like their ancestors— a stubborn and rebellious generation, whose hearts were not loyal to God, whose spirits were not faithful to him.
What are we teaching our kids now with our efforts? Are we teaching them that God’s Kingdom matters? That it’s something worth sowing into? Or are we teaching them that it’s not important enough to tithe too? Or it’s not important enough to put time into and volunteer for?
If you’ve read my blogs before you know I have a thing for Galatians. In the sixth chapter we find a challenge to both the 20% that are laboring (don’t quit!) and the 80% that aren’t (do something). In the message is reads:
1-3 Live creatively, friends. If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived.
4-5Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.
6Be very sure now, you who have been trained to a self-sufficient maturity, that you enter into a generous common life with those who have trained you, sharing all the good things that you have and experience.
7-8Don’t be misled: No one makes a fool of God. What a person plants, he will harvest. The person who plants selfishness, ignoring the needs of others—ignoring God!—harvests a crop of weeds. All he’ll have to show for his life is weeds! But the one who plants in response to God, letting God’s Spirit do the growth work in him, harvests a crop of real life, eternal life.
9-10So let’s not allow ourselves to get fatigued doing good. At the right time we will harvest a good crop if we don’t give up, or quit. Right now, therefore, every time we get the chance, let us work for the benefit of all, starting with the people closest to us in the community of faith.
So don’t get caught up in the conspiracy of our modern spirituality. As one of my friends posted, Jesus didn’t say listen to me, he said FOLLOW me. Seek First the Kingdom of God (Matt. 6:33). It will revitalize you, and other’s will be encouraged by your commitment! The Church is the one thing that can change the world (not the building, the Body of Christ). And as a capitalist I believe that a large church can influence many things because of the depth of it’s resource pool (if people are volunteering and giving). However a large church is going to perpetuate the problem I’m sharing until they figure out a way to help people get connected to relationships within it and to the vision of building the Kingdom. Really a small church and a large church are trying to the same thing. Both need people to carry the burden of the work, and both need its members to give to its needs.
The Kingdom is not all about You (ME), it’s about the family, it’s about the lost, it’s about building the Kingdom. And unless you can figure out a way to do it with no money and effort I would suggest you put on your work overalls and pull out your cheque books…Or maybe it’s not as important to you as you had hoped your attendance made it appear.