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Posts from the ‘Jesus’ Category

Emotional Bullying: Using Guilt to Lead Kids to God

guiltI was talking to a friend who, although raised in the church, is pretty antagonistic toward Christianity. He was talking about his childhood and how Sunday school and VBS constantly beat into his head his personal responsibility for Christ’s death.

Not in the “Christ died for your sins” vein, but more like, “It was your sins that drove the spikes into Jesus’ hands and feet.” The way his parents and church hammered (no pun intended) into him his personal responsiblity, made him feel mortifying shame.

It worked, he was a devout little kid. But he wasn’t propelled out of a sense of gratitude or wonder. No—his driving motivation for being good was humiliation.

As he got older, he walked away from the whole thing. I know so many people who have had the same experience. When they get older, their guilt turns into anger and frustration.

I ‘d seen the same things laid on kids in churches I’ve attended, and it breaks my heart. To a little kid, there’s a huge difference between “Christ died for our sins” and “your sins made Christ die.” It may be subtle, but it’s there.

Have others experienced this?

So I asked on Twitter if others had this same experience growing up:

Here’s some of the responses:

This last one really resonated with me. I can’t count the times I was told that people were going to look at me during judgment and mouth the words, “Why didn’t you tell me!?” as they were led to their eternal torment. Great, I have to spend eternity with that on my conscience?

Guilt’s not a great motivational tool

I get why it’s so easy to use guilt—especially on children. They’re so tender and making them feel guilty tends to make them respond immediately. But in the end, it may do your cause more harm than good.

It’s similar to the way parents use overpowering fear and intimidation to get immediate obedience out of a child even though they’re creating relational difficulties that will come to fruition later.

When children get older and are capable of deeper reflection, they start to resent the guilt that was used to motivate them. They start being distrustful and leery of emotional controlled.

We need to be mindful of how we communicate these profound truths to children (and, let’s be honest, adults too). The emotional implications for some of the extremely dramatic language, imagery, and metaphors we use can be damaging.

Jesus simply said, “Let the little children come unto me.” Not, “Compel them to come unto me by making sure they understand what bad little children they are.”

I’d love to hear your story. Did your parents/church introduce you to Christ in an organic, healthy way? Did you spend a lot of your childhood feeling guilty? Do you agree or disagree that guilt is not the best tool for religious instruction?

The Cross Isn’t a Brand—It’s a Mission Statement

duckdynastyConstantine was certain that God had come to him in a dream. The first “Christian” roman empire had looked up at the sun and witnessed a cross-like apparition along with the words, “ἐν τούτῳ νίκα” (In this, conquer).

Unsure of the meaning of this vision, Constantine went to sleep a couple nights later to be met by Christ who explained to him that he must use the sign of the cross against his enemies.

History tells us that Constantine marched into the Battle of the Milvian Bridge as a conqueror under the banner of the cross. Because obviously, when a warrior people hear they should use something against their enemies—it must be to vanquish them. Read more

The Golden Rule: It’s the Law (and the Prophets)

Image jmwork

Image jmwork

“So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”—Jesus of Nazareth

There are not many things I find more beautiful and difficult than the Sermon on the Mount. If any of us can read these words and not be shaken to the core, we’re either lying to ourselves or we don’t get it.

One of Jesus’ most profound statements is what we now call the golden rule: “Do to other what you would have them do to you. . .” This simple little statement is followed by the most powerful exclamation point, ” . . . for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.” When Jesus tells you that the whole Law (not to mention all the words of the prophets) are summed up in one phrase, you listen.

It’s interesting to me that this little saying isn’t entirely particular to Jesus. In some fashion it had been around for centuries: Read more

The Time Mr. Rogers Slapped Me Upside the Head

Fred RogersEvery time I’ve sat down to write a post in the last month, I’ve come up dry. I was thinking it must be writer’s block, but now I’m not so sure. There’s a quiet revolution happening in my heart and I’m only now beginning to see it for what is.

Waging war to promote peace

Evangelicalism’s been going through some changes. And frankly, it needs to. The social texture that birthed it has changed, and it can’t maintain a 1950’s posture towards a culture that has evolved. It’s becoming irrelevant. Read more

Freeing the Church from Pharisee Influence

phariseesThe Pharisees meant well—they truly did. And yet, they struggled against Christ at nearly every step.

And while there were Pharisees, like Nicodemus, who sincerely desired to understand Jesus, he still publicly called them out over their practices and blind spots.

The warning he gave to us was to be on our guard against the leaven of the Pharisees and Saducees. Because:

  • Their behavior is an occupational hazard for any child of God
  • Like leaven, it only takes a little bit to affect an entire loaf of bread

Here are some areas we need to be on guard against: Read more

Making Room in Church for Your Ideological Enemies

Image: Ryan McGuire

Image: Ryan McGuire

If I had to put together 12 men who would follow me throughout my ministry, I would have chosen differently. I would have picked guys who had my back, who were respected, and most of all, who were on the same page.

Not only does Jesus pick untried, untested, and mostly uneducated blue color workers, he intentionally picks guys who would have been at each other’s throats.

Simon: the zealot

Read more

Why the Sermon on the Mount Is Absurd and Impractical

039-039-The-Sermon-On-The-MountWe Americans judge an idea or principle based on one, primary criteria: does it work? We’re simple pragmatists and something that’s true will also be useful. If it’s true but not practical, it’s hard for us to value it.

I was thinking about this recently when I was reading the Sermon on the Mount.

Struggling with Christ’s most famous sermon

First-century listeners

To first-century Jewish ears, Christ’s sermon would have been a frustrating puzzle. They’d waited for hundreds of years for their deliverer to come and save them from oppressors. In place of a rebel-rousing, William-Wallace-styled diatribe, the Jews were told that mourning and meekness were dear to God’s heart. Read more

Wrestling with Universal Truth and Christian Certainty

Photo: Jacob Bøtter

Photo: Jacob Bøtter

I had an atheist friend ask me an interesting question after reading one of my blog posts. He asked me, “How much does your Christianity allow for pluralism?”

It was an intriguing question and, after spending the evening thinking about it, I replied in a private message.

But, after giving it some thought, I decided to turn my response into a post.

Die-hard exclusivist (sort-of)

I believe that the universe is governed by one overarching, universal truth—we’re all just trying to figure out what it is. Read more

The Seven Deadly Sins of Christian Platform Building

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere’s a weird world where marketing, social media, and Christianity have come together online in a dangerous dance.

I follow many online Christian platforms and find quite a few of them edifying and thought-provoking. But after walking in this space for a couple years and getting to know quite a few of them, I’ve recognized some patterns and pitfalls—among others and myself.

I’ve been ruminating on the classic seven deadly sins in regards to online Christian platform building, and I wanted to share some of those thoughts: Read more

5 Sobering Reflections on the Sheep and the Goats Parable

Mouth of a goat in full viewThere’s something about Jesus’ sheep and the goats parable that I find harrowing. It captivates me like none of his other teachings—and haunts me.

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Read more

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