bad guys choices

November 30, 2005 | 2 Comments

I’m amazed at the conversations that spring out of the questions of a three year old mind. Story time with Macey has become much more complex in the last few months. She is always analyzing the stories we read and asking lots of questions. Some of that is because she wants to delay bed time, but most of it is because her inquiring mind wants to know.

One of the things we’ve decided is that we don’t want to tell her there are bad people. That sure would be the easy answer at times as it would bring an end to the probing quesitons. “Yes Macey, there are bad people in the world, and you need to stay away from them or they’ll hurt you…good night and sweet dreams, dumpling!”

The point is not that we want to shelter her from the harsh realities of this world. Instead, we tell her that there are people who make bad choices. That inevitably leads to a series of question about why people choose to do the things they do. I’m amazed at how often the answer boils down to fear — especially fear of those who are different from us.

Too much of the Christian message over the years has been to fear those who are different. Stay away from those who are unsafe or who aren’t like you…they are bad people. That is a Christian message that has been corrupted by fear. Ironically, it calls people to the same root of the behavior that they are challenged to stay away from.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.1 John 4:18

  • I recently had a friend who is in Grad. School email me, asking me to reply to a questionairre for a class she is taking. It was asking Lead Pastors to define their role.

    Question #7 was: How are people protected from false teaching, unhealthy influences, societal pressures, etc.?

    I just stared at the question for a long time. How in the heck would I do that? (Which was something similar to my final answer) I can’t even do that for my kids, much less an entire community of believers. But that seems to be a mindset that people bring into church (leading=protection) and yes, John, I think it comes out of fear. We’ve seen people make really bad choices (and that is one of the most difficult realities of being a pastor); therefore, we want to shelter them from “things” that will cause the bad choices. Problem is…that is bad theology. Look no farther than our own hearts for the cause of our bad choices.

    The goal of our teaching should be to help people to see the reality of their hearts condition, and teaching them to interact with our culture while following Jesus.

  • Sorry, to double post here, but I’ve got all sorts of thoughts running through my head.

    This reminds me of growing up in the heavy metal era of the 80’s when we were having album bonfires. The mindset was that these bands were causing kids to take drugs or rebel against their parents. Take away the bad influence of rock n roll and everything would be okey-dokey. It didn’t work.

    I remember having parents come to me as a youth pastor and asking me to convince their child to quit listening to Guns-N-Roses or some other band. My response was simply that God wants our hearts and taking music away isn’t going change your child’s heart, it might only harden it. However, when Jesus gets ahold of someone’s heart, their whole life begins to transform. I don’t think we can blame Guns-N-Roses for our kids rebellion, but Jimmy Eat World…maybe.