Thursday, August 4, 2016
Thoughtful About . . . For and Against
I just got back from a couple days at a church conference, and the director said something in one of his presentations that resonated with something my husband and I had been discussing too. And that is this:
One of the greatest perceived failings of the modern church is that we put more thought into what we're against than what we're for. As in, in a survey of modern America, this was listed as one of the top 5 reasons that people stopped going to church. All they ever heard was the negative. The don't-do. The can't-have. The stay-away-from.
The negatives are important. They are. God's pretty clear on what we shouldn't do.
But . . . but. If we carve out those places, what are we then filling them with?
I kinda look at it like this. A successful diet isn't one that just says "Eliminate these foods." Right? Because if you just cut out the chips and dessert and saturated fats or whatever and don't fill your meals with anything else in their place, what happens?
You get hungry.
A successful diet is one that says, "Eat this. Instead of a banana muffin, have a banana. Instead of chips, have some hummus."
Not that I'm an experienced dieter, LOL, but I have definitely noticed that when I'm focused on getting my five servings of fruits and veggies in a day, I don't have room for the junk food. If I make conscious decisions to eat something healthy first, then I rarely get around to the unhealthy stuff.
This is true of spiritual health too. Yes, we definitely, 100% need to avoid things. But if all you preach and teach is a system of DON'T, you leave your people empty . . . and that makes the way for apostasy and legalism.
When it comes to faith, we need to be careful to focus on how to fill ourselves with Him. That is the #1 most important thing. Because if we're filled up with His Spirit, there's no room left for the sins. If we're full of His love, there's no room for hate. If we're dwelling in Him and He in us, that old man will fade away and we won't still desire the same old junk. If we're basking in His grace, we won't even notice the "lack" we now have of those things of the world--we'll only notice the fruit of His presence.
I don't want to be known as "the person who doesn't . . ." even if that "doesn't" is an important distinction. Yes, I am absolutely the person who doesn't murder, doesn't steal, doesn't commit perjury. But that doesn't tell you a thing about who I am. What I do.
This holds true in a church as well. We can't just be known for the sins we don't embrace--we have to be known for the spiritual fruit we do produce. Let us be known for our kindness and goodness and self-control. For our giving and serving and need-meeting. Let us be known for being Jesus's hands and feet in a hurting world. Not for just shaking a finger at that world and judging.
Let's not just be against things . . . let's stand for things as well.