I used to be really hard on my boys when they messed up. It was like, “watch out, Dad’s coming.” The reason I was so hard on them is that I was afraid for them. I was afraid that if I didn’t jump on them quickly and firmly, they would spiral into a life of sin and shame.
Then a few years ago I realized something: they were afraid of me. My grand scheme had worked: I had scared them out of sinning. Problem: They are not always going to be with me. At some point in their lives they will be on their own and what’s going to stop them from making the wrong choice then?
So, I decided to help them make right choices rather than to not make bad choices. It was a subtle shift, but had very different results.
First, I didn’t lead out of fear of what they might do, but out of faith of what they could be. Everything, including my rules, became “for their good” rather than “to keep them from something.”
Second, when they did make a mistake, it was a learning moment for their future, not a mark on their past. Pastor Jim Stephens used the phrase: “observe without judgment.”
Finally, it has dramatically changed my relationship with them. We smile more. We laugh more (especially at ourselves). We enjoy the journey a lot more.
So, is the church too soft on sin? If you think so, ask yourself if fear is driving your thinking? Are you afraid that a little leaven (sin) will leaven the whole loaf (his church)? I’m not saying that we should take sin lightly. Matter of fact, I’m very concerned that we no longer strive for a better way of living within the church. But, think about the people you know who sin (yes, start with the one in the mirror). Now think about how you can change your approach to them and their sin. First, instead of approaching them in fear (“what they do”), approach them in faith (“what they can be”). Second, instead of counting their sin against them, be quick to forgive them – “observe without judgement”. Third, instead of taking life so seriously, start enjoying the journey.
Which of these three is an area you want to work on this week? What can you do to think and live differently in one of these areas?