And in the sovereignty of God something of a to-do arose over the weekend at the church I attend. And it is a god example of why it matters to do that hard thing on the front end so they don’t become explosions later. Kicking a can down the road is easy, for a while, but eventually decisions have to be made, usually under the gun, and with emotions running high. Exceptions have a way of becoming habits, which become, normal, which becomes traditions. And after a while of all this can kicking you find yourself in a part of town you aren’t familiar with, and the street lights are flickering in a way that warms Stephen King’s deranged heart.
But more so what we end up doing is depriving ourselves of what God has that is best for us. The pains of a few people early on are better than the tears and rage later when they are denied a sin they had grown accustomed to. Training a congregation on the front end is work but the benefits of Godliness in your people are worth more than all the battles that follow the childish and ungodly like a swarm.
Congregations should be loved enough to be given the gift of pain. It hurts having a pet sin wrenched from your grasp but as the man with the little red lizard in The Great Divorce can attest the freedom from the sin is superior in every way. Currently it would seem that church leaders are settling on a minimum that comes back to bite them, when they are called to do the maximum. Or to paraphrase Lewis in The Problem of Pain: “We are wishing not for more holiness but for less.”
So to look back on the two previous articles, children are not being raised into more holiness but to less. Congregations are not being trained in more holiness, but less. Felt needs have trumped the need for holiness. As a rule of thumb if a verse is read and the knee jerk reaction is to explain it away, then wisdom says you should probably just go ahead and obey what it is saying. Do the right thing before the drift sets in and after a while your church finds itself at sea but insisting it has always been this way.