11 February 2008

Loving Confrontation

I love confrontation, though I don't always appreciate it at the moment I am being confronted and seldom appreciate it when it isn't done biblically. Biblical confrontation is a loving, life-saving tool that we Christians have allowed the world to define and label for us. Why is it we insist on letting the world define truth for us? Why are we so willing to believe them when they tell us confrontation is evil and nothing more than bigoted intolerance? We have even let the world tell us intolerance is wrong but there are things we should not tolerate. The irony is even those in the world would agree with that statement, they just have subjective standards on what is intolerable.

Unfortunately, we have given the world reason to point the finger of blame at us. The valuable tools we have been given by God have all been counterfeited by the enemy of our souls. In our flesh, we have abused confrontation and exhortation in the name of Christ. Anytime we operate in the flesh the resulting product is suspect. When we desire to confront someone we should suspect our motives. Too often the flesh desires confrontation in order to put someone 'in their place.' However, loving confrontation is a life-restoring, life-changing communication. The bible says, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy" (Proverbs 27:6). That is the truth we should believe, not the world's tainted version.

Flattery is one of the most insidious forms of abuse. Let me demonstrate in terms our culture can understand. If you have watched the beginning shows of American Idol when they search from town to town for talent, the highlight of those shows are the people who haven't a clue they are terrible performers. If you doubt me, or you haven't seen them- here are some of the 'best' examples. I am not trying to be funny. In our affirmation crazed society somebody hasn't loved the majority of these people enough to tell them that, at the very least, they need more practice. Sure, some have been told and their egos wouldn't suffer the thought and others have been told they would never amount to anything and sell millions of albums now....not that that is an indication of being good at your craft. I will concede that some may be fabulous and were lied to about their ability. That isn't loving confrontation. My point is that for some, the sting of being told by someone who loves them or knows them that they aren't ready- or may never be ready- has been replaced by the humiliation of being on national television and YouTube and laughed at by millions. My heart breaks for them...the ones who will forever been known as a reject. Especially if someone along the way could have prevented their humiliation by confronting them with the truth. Sadly, in our gladiatorial society, we enjoy the failures of others because it makes us feel superior.

Biblical confrontation and exhortation do not have the aim of humiliation and degradation. They seek to warn and bring reconciliation. They are an encouragement to do what is right and forsake what is wrong. A bible study I am doing with the ladies of my church had us reading the story of the prophet Nathan confronting King David regarding his sins of adultery and murder. The author points out that though there were temporal consequences for David's sin, his repentance bore much fruit and stands as an example for us today. Who can read Psalm 51 and not appreciate the soul baring honesty it contains? Who can miss the joy of sin forgiven in Psalm 32?

When we are teachable, we appreciate loving confrontation. When what we profess is not congruent with our actions, if we are being teachable we may feel guilty and ashamed, but we will know we must repent and change. The relief that results brings us joy. Repentance brings restoration. When we are rebellious we become indignant and determined to prove to the one confronting us that they are wrong and/or we run and hide. Our pride will keep us in hiding while our wounds fester. We will become either hardened or so miserable that we crave confrontation. Why do you think Dr. Phil has so much success? No, I do not recommend Dr. Phil. I am just pointing out that his style is that of confrontation and 'telling it like it is'- though his ultimate authority is not the Bible. People need and want confrontation. Biblical confrontation is the ultimate intervention they need, not the world's band-aids.

Lord willing, my next post on confrontation and exhortation will be how to accomplish them biblically. I do not want you to read this and think it is license to tell everyone what you think about what they are doing. This is not a post designed to give you the right to do "Drive-by exhortations and confrontations." I have a lot to say about people who use the Word of God as a battering ram and an invitation to fillet someone's life and leave them bleeding. That is not exhortation, it is not biblical, it is not loving, and it is not helpful. What I do want you to do is think about confrontation and exhortation biblically.

A message of warning or encouragement, designed to motivate persons to action. The apostle Paul often exhorted his fellow Christians to live out their calling as ministers of the Lord Jesus . (from Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary) (Copyright (C) 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

1Thessolonians 2:3-12
3 For our exhortation does not {come} from error or impurity or by way of deceit;
4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men but God, who examines our hearts.
5 For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed-- God is witness--
6 nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority.
7 But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing {mother} tenderly cares for her own children.
8 Having thus a fond affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us.
9 For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, {how} working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God.
10 You are witnesses, and {so is} God, how devoutly and uprightly and blamelessly we behaved toward you believers;
11 just as you know how we {were} exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father {would} his own children,
12 so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

1 comment:

Carla said...

Good post Rozie - I'm looking forward to part 2 of this as well. I always learn from you, and I'm glad you're a part of my world.