Problem is, I say it alllllllllll the time. And I get called out on it. By a four year old. If I cannot rein in my own tongue it can cause some real problems for those who I am trying to teach. When we don't deal honestly with our own shortcomings and problems, we invalidate ourselves.
Freedom is a wonderful thing. A wonderful, dangerous thing. A wonderful, dangerous, and worthy to be defended thing. Rules do not change people, freedom changes people. All the groundings in the world will not make my son truly love his sister(and not hit her). The freedom to love and be loved will change his heart. You generally do not change yourself internally by externally doing things.
Take a moment. Think through what you believe the general public understanding of what modern Christianity in America is focused on........
Let's compare lists...here's mine:
If you know me at all, and have read anything I have written, you know I strongly disagree with this list. But whether or not I disagree with it, it is what it is. Ask Joe or Jane Public on the street what they think about Christianity, that is generally what they will respond.
So how do we combat it?
Well, here is how we DON'T combat it...
By arguing point by point each of these false perceptions and attempting to make a watertight case for why those points are not really representative. The way we attempt to do that actually reinforces that perception.
Take the "sex" conversation....Someone is complaining that Christian's should just stay out of peoples bedrooms. A typical response is to say, "no no no, we aren't trying to control your life at all....God designed us to experience that.....BUTTTTTT only like He prescribed, and when we ignore His instructions we only hurt ourselves...I am just trying to HELP you!".........That person says, "Well, I don't feel like it's hurting me, so shut up!"
One; The Christian statement is not FALSE. It is just unhelpful.
Two; Even Solomon recognized that people who do things that are wrong will often still get good things....and it can be frustrating!! You can't say "Don't do this or bad things will happen" Because, if bad things haven't happened yet, they won't take you seriously.
Three; Are you realllly trying to help them? If all mankind's destiny is the same, to stand before a Righteous and Just God, then whether or not someone did or didn't have sex outside of marriage isn't going to be the main point of contention. When your friend has a gun shot wound, take them to the hospital, don't offer to give them a makeover!
Or do you show contempt for the riches of his kindness, forbearance and patience, not realizing that God's kindness is intended to lead you to repentance? -Romans 2:4
Here is what you and I need to get real about. The Gospel is not a series of hoops that we jump through to achieve Holiness. Paul's words here are not very gentle. Do you show CONTEMPT???? When we boil the Gospel into a series of behaviors were acting towards God with contempt.
What changes people? God's kindness. Not people's goodness. The kindness of God is not predicated upon the receiving individuals personal behavior improvements. But entirely rooted in the character of God. When we reverse the direction to being kindness received upon goodness, our behavior is contemptible.
Change comes from the freedom found in being loved. Not forced behavior and punishment. We inadvertently present ourselves to a watching world in a destructive and false way. They(non-Christians) act sinfully and we(Christians) act righteously. It makes us out to be hypocritical liars, because we DON'T act righteously. Our hope is in God's goodness, not ours.
When I talk to my son about his behavior, he is going to have more and more reasons in his life to notice my own shortcomings. If I present the rules to him from the perspective of "Do this, be good like daddy!" He will soon catch on to my "lies".
Yesterday he said, "Daddy, you said stupid"
I said, "I am sorry buddy, you are right. Daddy wants to do better because it is good for us to speak kindly. Thanks for telling me, I want to keep working on it, just like you!"
Get honest with ourselves and others. We are not that good either. But God is!