Christian Counterproductivity

Posted by John Lindsay on 28th February 2012 in Christian Articles, News

You are standing on railroad tracks which go straight as far as you can see in either direction. The two tracks run parallel to each other and join at a point in the horizon on both sides. If you stand between the two tracks, and look at each track, they both appear to be strait. But how can this be true if the tracks are four feet apart where you are standing and meet at a vanishing point at each horizon? Point being: Whatever path a man walks will appear to be straight to him while all others, though they are equally strait, will be considered askew by any other perspective.

How many people have been won over to an opposing view by telling them they are wrong? Even if the statement is softened by saying, “There is a better way,” it still implies every other line being walked is crooked which neither strengthens a relationship nor softens an opposing will. In the musical, The Fantastics, there is a song called “Never Say No” which sheds some light on the age-old paradox of why people do the opposite of what they are asked. My favorite verse is, “Why did the kids put beans in their ears? No one can hear with beans in their ears. After a while the reason appears. They did it ‘cause we said no.”

Most of us have had someone knock on our door unannounced. The first thing we think is someone is selling something which makes us want to pretend we are not home. The smart ones employ cute big-eyed children who stand there uncomfortably shivering, playing on our sympathy, nervously pitching the program du jour, while we consider the nicest way to let them down while calculating the fastest exit route.

Salespeople are like stray dogs. If you feed them they will keep coming back. We have been bombarded by the needs of others via billboards, internet popups, radio, TV so often we have barricaded ourselves in our homes. When the ambitious soul carrying a Bible in their hand knocks on our door we initially consider our own inconvenience, but never their sacrifice.

Whether something is for our benefit or for the good of someone else, there is always a cost, which is paid in dollars, time, or minor discomfort. Judeo-Christians call it sacrifice and believe it to be an investment for which there is a relative return in heaven and on earth. The tithe removes the curse. The offering ushers in a blessing. Isaiah 58:3-5 records a variety of ways to misuse the sacrifice of prayer and fasting. Looking out for the other guy, especially widows and orphans is a familiar one. The least favorite being – to love your enemies.

Biblical principles teach us to understand the importance of keeping value flowing. Much like a siphon hose, our lives are designed to receive an unlimited amount of value in order to be transported and dispersed elsewhere, even generationally. The more we give, the more suction we create which draws more value back toward us from its source (provided we stay connected and the means of transport remains sound).

Unfortunately, the problem with Christianity is it is made up of sinners; a leaky vessel club, hoping for the best as they stumble down the narrow road through the refiner’s fire. Human nature by definition is flawed. Preachers have a hard time selling the principle of sacrifice because the average Christian does not fully understand the function of faith nor where it originates.

Only 5% of Christians tithe 10% of their income. The number of divorces and abortions remains the same for Christians and non-Christians. Many corporations give generously. The Bible says not to let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. The likelihood of politicians and corporations giving anonymously is as unlikely as Chevy Chase ever hosting another late night talk show. If it does not equate to votes, approval ratings or market share, giving will unlikely be done as God intended.

America’s generosity is most typically reactionary where the principle of tithing is a proactive discipline. If America would maintain the siphon hose connection and flow of resources in the spirit of the tithe, rather than relax and position ourselves only when we are needed, it is possible, through continual sacrifice, the devastation of forthcoming disasters could be profoundly reduced.

The near equal percentage rates of divorce and abortion among Christians and non-Christians is grossly skewed by believers who know Jesus as Savior but not as Lord. What is harder to argue is the lack of impact the faithful Christian community has had on the predictable number of divorces, abortions, violent crimes, etc. in its own community year after year. If an indication of insanity is doing something over and over and expecting a different result, then we should have been institutionalized for not recognizing the futility of our ineffectiveness long ago.

A civil demonstration against divorce or abortion would not be a bad thing. Unfortunately, by the time the symptom of such problems are exposed, very little can be done. In my own life, I am sure I had an amalgam of influences explain to me one of man’s chief responsibilities was to protect women from the wolves in sheep’s clothing. No one warned me how comfortable sheep’s clothing was or how difficult it would be to conquer my own desire to selfishly prey upon them myself. If there had been a true mentor policing my bad behavior (which was incidentally praised by my peers), there is no telling how much chaos, head and heartache I could have prevented.

Telling someone they are wrong is counterproductive. Rubbing someone’s nose in a mistake at a time their belief system is telling them the opposite, can only create  confusion and resentment, especially when what is being professed to be bad feels so good. What is the impact of protesting abortion clinics if, for every mother convinced to keep their child, there are fifty pushed farther away? Even if one mother was convinced to keep her baby and avoid the guilt and psychological self-inflicted torment, if her belief system did not change, the only thing which really occurred was another child was born into an environment with flexible boundaries enforced by inconsistent authority and will most likely repeat the same mistakes. What is worse is they will propagate an equal or greater amount of corruption than the previous generation.

Behavior is a symptom based on a belief system. Since evil ultimately stems from believing our way is better than God’s, most Christian scholars promote Christian counterproductivity by supporting the status quo. The scripture most often used in their argument is Paul’s doctrine as stated in 1 Corinthians 23, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.” It is true we will not lose our salvation over eating shellfish, but what Paul is not saying is God changed his mind and is now saying, eating bottom feeders is healthy.

Jesus himself said in Matthew 5:17-18, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.” Therefore, Jesus did not free us from the law, he freed us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:13).

God showed Moses every aspect of how to live well. The Psalms shows the purpose of trials, and the prophets tell us what to expect for being obedient as well as disobedient. How then can we continue to do whatever we want whenever we want and assume there will be no consequence? How can we expect to maintain the peace which comes through obedience to God if we allow the essence of God to be diluted and disregarded? If Jesus did not come to abolish the law then it remains intact and should be revered as a substantive characteristic of Christ. The more time one spends with God the less distinction there is between those who cry legalism and those who regard the law as inconsequential.

If evil is rooted in believing our way is better than God’s, then not knowing God’s way is a sure fire recipe for failure. Anyone who has done an exhaustive study of the Bible will be hard to convince God changes his mind. God did not move the Sabbath day from Saturday to Sunday. Not caring what God has determined to be clean and unclean and why is irresponsible. It was stated clearly in Exodus 12, the Passover should be kept a feast by an ordinance forever. Assuming there is a consequence for not keeping one of God’s solemn feasts, how can one suppose there would be no consequence for replacing not one but all of them – with pagan holidays?

When the Apostles were debating the same case two thousand years ago, Acts 15:20-21 records the leaders of the church agreed the new gentile converts should begin by abstaining from things sacrificed to idols, fornication, things strangled, and blood. What is significant is the instruction did not stop there. It went on to say Moses is preached in every city, and read in the synagogues every Sabbath day which indicates for those of us who are not intimately familiar with the lunar calendar or the Pentateuch, there is a place to start, but by no means does it imply it is a place where we should get comfortable.

If we want to address Christian counterproductivity, we should begin by reminding ourselves of what was expected of new gentile converts at the outset of their walk and focus on the issue of fornication. If children were taught and understood early God has a plan for their lives which could be upset or significantly delayed by engaging in sex without commitment, self-discipline, maturity and knowledge – abortion and divorce would be reduced to the subject of a proverb within the Christian community.

Can a vacuum be created where people could be taught the word of God without worldly manipulation? Yes. It is called a family. It is made up of a committed father and mother who are ultimately charged with defending their children and perpetuating a Godly influence. There would be no reason to attack the sanctity and veracity of marriage and family if there was nothing to fear from these institutions.

Genesis 28:14, “That in the seed of Abraham all families of the earth shall be blessed.” No one can give something away which he has not first received. In other words, you can only be a blessing to someone once you have been blessed. If blessing comes from God-fearing families, then the family should be a primary focus of our investment as well as something worthy of protection.

Should we stop protesting and knocking on doors? Of course not. It would be wise, however, to avoid comparing our path to the paths of others as it is the destination which determines the path, not vice versa. If it is true you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, we may want to bring cookies as opposed to criticism. After all the gospel of Jesus Christ, by definition, is good news.

One Response to “Christian Counterproductivity”

  1. tenpinguru Says:

    Excellent blog and great topic. Relevent to governments, religions, neighbors, etc… The old adage pertaining to walking a mile in someone else’s shoes relates to this topic. How do we impress upon children growing up within other belief systems their parents are misinformed? Wouldn’t they be trying to impress on our children we are misinformed? Within a marriage we even see evidence of struggle and counterproductive behavior.

    Let us all look to be open to others, but not be afraid to stand for our own convictions. In the end, isn’t there only one truth and it doesn’t matter if this truth is projected in multiple ways. 1+1=2 or uno más uno es igual a dos.