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Archive for the ‘sin’ Category

Why Anonymous Letters Don’t Work Among Jesus’ Followers

Posted by functionalchurch on 2009/10/19

I thought about beginning this blog with a scenario where a person might be led to write an anonymous letter complaining about their church but to be honest I just couldn’t figure out what the motivations might be. Regardless of that, it is a topic that we do need to discuss from time to time. Anonymous letters are part and parcel of a life in ministry. I don’t know anyone in ministry who hasn’t sometime received anonymous advice or an anonymous letter. So how do we deal with them?

All throughout my life I have heard from people in all walks of life – Pastors, District Ministers, Seminary Presidents, and even missionaries – what I should do if I receive an anonymous letter. The answers are all surprisingly unanimous: “Throw all anonymous letters in the garbage and forget about them!” This is very easy to say but very hard to do. There is something that keeps drawing us back to the words on the page over and over again to the point where we are carried off in despair or self-pity.

I was pondering this advice the past week and began to wonder why anonymous letters do not work in the church. Here is my list (not sure I’ll get to 10 so I can’t really call it a Top-10 List):

1. The Church is Community. I know the people I worship and minister with personally. I may see them everyday or even every week. We attend worship services, cell groups, seminars, and classes together. We interact. We play. We love. We share. We know each other. There is that mutual give and take that goes with any good relationship.

Enter the “Anonymous Letter.” All of a sudden that relationship is broken. There is no more trust. Instead there is shame. Someone is too ashamed of the situation to make himself/herself known. Someone is too ashamed of what they are saying that they don’t want to take ownership of their words. Someone doesn’t care about community enough to keep it intact and loving.

2. The Bible tells us to confront in a personal way. Of course, in many cases your culture will determine how you confront or approach someone, but it is still in a personal way. In Galatians, Paul tells us, “Brothers, if someone is caught in sin you who are spiritual need to restore him gently …” The term brothers (or sisters) denotes relationship that leads to restoration. I approach my brother or sister (in a culturally relevant way) and work with him/her to improve. We work through our struggles together.

Enter the “Anonymous Letter.” Now all of a sudden there is no personality to the relationship. “Who is the one who is correcting me? Who knows because it’s anonymous. I guess if no one cares about me enough to help me move through my struggles then I don’t need to change.”

3. Legitimate Questions Deserve Answers (Perhaps even illegitimate questions do as well). If you want an answer for a question you ask, it is vital that the person answering knows who is asking. How can I answer you unless I know who you are? What if I give the answer to someone who isn’t asking. I have wasted my time and you still don’t have your answer! Not all questions need to be answered in a public forum.

Anonymous letters don’t allow us to give the answers to those who are asking them. The writer assumes everyone has the same question and therefore needs to know the answer and so their should be a public declaration of the answer. A public declaration of the answer could even lead to embarrassment for the writer (see #4 below).

4. Anonymous letter writers don’t necessarily have enough info to ask the questions. Their questions may arise because of misinformation, incomplete information, or erroneous information. There may be significant misunderstanding on the part of the writer to the facts of the matter. Just because a letter is anonymous doesn’t mean that it is based upon fact.

The best option is to follow the biblical pattern for resolving conflict and asking questions – namely, the two parties need to communicate in an open and honest way with each other. Not only will this allow the right issues to be addressed but will also foster true community and unity.

Posted in christian life, church, conflict resolution, ecclesiology, leadership, personal impact, sin, transformation, truth-telling | 3 Comments »

everyone was wrong — what american idol tells us about ourselves

Posted by functionalchurch on 2009/05/26

so it appears that everyone was wrong. if your’re not one of the +-100 million american idol voters (nor one of the countless who watched around the world) you may be unaware of the shocking finale of season 8.

everyone knew who would win. there wasn’t any doubt in anyone’s mind. the contestants knew who would win. the judges knew who would win. the world knew who would win. even the winner knew who would win and that it wouldn’t be him. everyone knew adam would win. hands down. no debate. no contest.

so what happened? it turns out that no one told the voters so they voted for kris. his remarks were perhaps the most pertinent: basically saying “adam deserves this. this is adams’s [award].”

anyway, it’s all just a show that captured our hearts for a season but now we must get on to the realities of life. so what does this say to us? what can we learn from all of this?

in the realm of nation building (or discipling nations) it is easy to get discouraged and down knowing that we are up against an insurmountable obstacle. trying to rid our nation of graft and corruption; leading the fight against pornography; dealing with almost insurmountable traffic woes; helping fathers reclaim their responsibility to their families; etc.

it’s like we all know who is going to win: they are. the sinners. the corrupt. the selfish. everyone knows.

but everyone is wrong. there is good news and it is encapsulated in (at least) two bible verses:

in matthew jesus talks about the gates of evil not being strong enough to repel the attacks of the church. eventually those gates will be destroyed and the church will triumph.

revelation talks about the two kingdoms: the world’s and god’s. in the end the kingdoms of the world will become the kingdom of jesus.

so there is hope. in fact it is certainty: transformation will occur and it will be worldwide in it’s scope.

Posted in american idol, church, church impact, marturia, personal impact, sin, transformation, truth-telling | Leave a Comment »

twilight

Posted by functionalchurch on 2008/12/07

went to see another movie the other day (seems to be a favourite theme of my blogs 🙂

i wasn’t sure what to expect since the movie was supposed to be about vampires. remembering the fun i had watching lost boys when i was in university, i thought that it might be ok.

to be honest, i was amazed!

two thing stick out in my mind right now. they both relate to the character edward (perhaps as the male character i can relate to him more than the female character)

in many ways we are like edward — not perhaps vampires who have to control our urges to kill — but rather sinners who have to control our urges to sin. every day and in every situation we face, we make a choice: will i give in to the sinful body i inhabit (romans 7:24)? or will i live as if i am dead to that sin (romans 6:2-3). edward can be a model for us of this daily struggle we face. this is the true reality of the christian life (at least as i have experienced it). the daily decision to deny yourself and follow the teachings of jesus.

i was a little bit turned off at first with edward’s true appearance as an almost angel-of-light. it reminded me too much of how satan is portrayed in the bible. but then i saw it from another angle — as humans we were created a little lower than the angels (ps 8:4; he 2:6ff) but in christ we are called “sons’ of glory. in many ways as christians we tend to hide our true identity as sons of god. we even hide our true identity as those for whom sin has no power. we fool ourselves into thinking that we are still sinners and deny ourselves the opportunity to really gain victory over it. so maybe we are a little diamond-skinned after all.

Posted in movies, personal impact, sin, temptation | Leave a Comment »

you have to work twice as hard when it’s honest

Posted by functionalchurch on 2005/07/12

how much impact has your belief made on your life?

in the classic movie “gone in 60 seconds,” sway (played by angelina
jolie), when asked why she has two jobs, says, “i found you have to work
twice as hard when it’s honest.”

that got me thinking this morning as i was taking the kids to school.
while on the jeepney i saw an advertisement from a local motel. motels
where we live are places to have sex. sometimes you bring your own
partner (rarely your spouse) and sometimes a partner is provided for
you. rooms are available by the hour. it is really a big issue here–our
area of quezon city has several such motels.

but the question arises, what if one of these motel owners becomes a
christian? how does that affect his business?

the advertisement i saw was for the kabayan hotel, which used to be a
typical motel. then the owner became a christian and realised that he
could no longer, in good conscience, maintain that type of business. he
realised he had two choices:

choice #1. sell the motel to someone else. in his way of thinking this
was not an option since the new owner would simply start up his/her own
version of the same kind of business and the sin would continue. the
problem would not be solved.

choice #2: transform that business into something that would positively
influence the local community. he decide to remarket the motel as a
place for families. couples are not allowed to check in together without
a valid marriage certificate. the top floors have been designated as
prayer floors, with little cubicles where one can stay and pray for as
long as they want.

how has that choice affected business? profits are way down. honesty
doesn’t always reap financial rewards.

how has the choice affected the community? the impact on the community
is great. the hotel and its owner are being held up as an examples of
morality and integrity.

how much impact has your belief made on your life?

Posted in christian life, church impact, ethics, legacy, sin, temptation, transformation | Leave a Comment »