Thursday, August 5, 2010

Of Reaction

When we see someone sin, we have a host of responses we can take, but really, they fall into about 3 categories.

1) The right thing.
2) A passive acceptance of the sin.
3) A crush and destroy mentality, usually reserved for the sinner.

We all (presumably) try to fall into that first group. So, for the 9 times out of 10 we fail miserably, this will be reality - so we at least know what we're looking at when we do it, and maybe we can see it in ourselves before we do. It is really easy to see examples of this in social or relational sins, so let me pull a couple moments from my storied history of screwing up so that we can kick this thing off. You'll also probably gain a really strong, really quick insight to which one of the two sinful reactions I tend to fall in (if you don't know already).

When I was in college, I lived right, went to church plenty etc etc. In doing that, I quickly came in contact with "The Christian Bubble" - that group of 40-50 Christians who move in and out of the forefront of collegiate church services. I'm fairly perceptive and honestly, it didn't take too long to realize that the Christian Bubble at Texas Tech (guns up) not only fell far short of their potential, but they also fell far short of what God meant for them. They used each other to justify themselves, they fed off each other, they were exclusionary, and (perhaps the root of the others) they were extremely inwardly focused.

Were they good folks? Yeah, for the most part. Did they do good things? Yeah, they did. Were they in church every week? Absolutely. They had to be to maintain membership in The Bubble (I think).
Did they reach out evangelically to the lost? Nope. Did they reach out as a society to Christians struggling around them? Nuh uh. Did they hold each other accountable and fight through their sins together? Nope.

That being said, what I saw in this group was this: A group of good people who were willing to passively accept sin in and around them because it was easier. A group of people who would far rather take the easy road than become who God created them to be. And I was right. So I acted on it.
I avoided the Christian Bubble. I had lots of Christian friends, I knew the Christian Bubble, but the bubble and I did not intermingle. I made a point to hang with lost people. I made sure that I would not be accused of being part of the Christian Bubble - all while maintaining staunch, religious Christianity. I spoke out against the Christian Bubble, at least amongst my small groups of friends.

Was I a good guy? Yeah, for the most part. Did I do good things? Yeah, I did. Was I in church every week? Absolutely. Christianity matters to me.
Did I reach out evangelically to the lost? Nope, not especially. Did I reach out as an individual to Christians struggling around me? Nuh uh, we'll talk about this more. Did I find deep, meaningful accountability? Nope.
(note, these questions and answers should seem familiar. Scroll up.)

I thought I was a revolutionary. Turns out I was just a rebel. I had (not) accomplished all the same things as them, but had taken pride in the fact that I wasn't immersed in their sin. I saw a group of Christians who needed direction (The Bubble) and did not a thing about it. So not only was I just like them, I was proud of it... just like them. Sin is tricky like that huh? The only difference between us was that they passively accepted their sins while I went crush and destroy on sinners. I was the same coin as them, just the other side.

The other place you really, really see this is in relationships. And by that I mean that icky boyfriend/girlfriend/fiance/married stuff. Biblically, the man is the leader and he is held accountable for the direction things go (women, if you're the leader because you're closer to Christ, either you aren't closer or you need to grow up and get a real relationship that you haven't already sabotaged with low standards). In the world, we constantly see a power struggle in this. Male is leader, female doesn't accept, female attempts a coup (sin #1). Then what happens? Many males passively accept it. They retreat and allow leadership to be taken by a supporting partner. They are diminished to a nagging post, the brunt of every joke, and years of "Yes Honeys." I can't abide by that. Unfortunately, instead of doing the right thing, I so often move into the realm of crush and destroy. You cut me down in front of my friends, I will immediately look for the most devastating thing to say that I can. 100% of the time. This is totally, unbelievably, devastatingly wrong. The heaviest forms of this show up as abuse. The others just as a crushed spirit. My reaction to sin (crush and destroy) once again falls woefully short of what we're called to as Christians.

Its funny to look at this now and to see the reality of my responses. To know that in passive acceptance of your sin you justify it away so that it isn't sin at all. So you're not a sinner. And that makes you proud, and leads to more justification. But now to know that in a crush and destroy response you point to others sins and decide that since you aren't doing that, you must not be sinning. And that makes you proud. And leads to more justification.

When we react poorly to sin. We sin. Not only that, we create a cycle of sin (there's that tricky nature of sin thing again). We create a cycle of devastation, brokenness, unhappiness.
Don't feel entitled. Don't return wrong with wrong intentionally. But don't bow down to the sin of another either. Biblically approach sin and sinner. Be level headed, be open, be honest, and draw from scripture. Confrontation is not to be avoided and violence is not to be sought after. React well to sin and we can end it where it is. React poorly, and we are destining both ourselves and another to sin again.

Honestly, there are about 3 side-blogs on this same issue that could easily run longer than this one did.
For now, I'm ok with just delving into myself (and encouraging you to do the same) and trying to improve on the big picture. I'm aware that I crush and destroy in some instances and passively accept in others. I don't want that, and if I'm aware of what I'm doing, it isn't hard to stop. As most things are - just a matter of believing what is true and seeking what is right.

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