Donny's Ramblings

Selfish Motivation, Perhaps?

22 Comments

As I read through numerous Christian oriented blogs and message boards, I marvel at the differences between those who take a more traditional approach to Christianity, versus those who make Jesus’ love the central focus of their beliefs. There seems to be a major movement toward the latter, and I’m very happy to witness it.

Those who follow the traditional path seem to receive pleasure in constantly reminding others of their sins. That has always annoyed me greatly. Lately I’ve surrounded myself with people who are motivated towards pursuit of a more “Christ-like” version of Christianity, and that seems to help diminish my burning dislike towards traditionalists. I hope to someday extinguish the urge to slap the judgmental upside the head, and instead embrace them in understanding, but for now I am still in head-slapping mode.

Psychology became a major interest to me while in college, and that interest continues to this day. I constantly find myself wondering what it is that motivates people to behave as they do, regardless of whether said behavior is positive or negative. What makes them tick? This morning I read a few blogs that vaguely remind me of the Westboro Baptist group (the “God Hates Fags” people). When blogs lean toward this approach, hate slogans seem to find their way into the comments section upon occasion. Why those who wish to represent Jesus would ever choose to use such terms is beyond me, but I do have a theory I’d like to propose:

I think it has to do with self(ish) motivation, as opposed to self(less) motivation. I’d be willing to stipulate most of those who are being selfish may not realize they’re doing so. Before clarifying what I mean, let me give some background information on what leads me to this conclusion.

When I was in high school my athletic abilities were not that great. I participated in sports, but in football, for instance, I was much more likely to be found playing the position of guard (the water bottle) than actually being a guard on the field. Academics were a different story. I excelled and received high marks in honors courses with hardly any study required. When nobody else was able to answer a question, the teacher often called on Donny. I had to try hard to keep the huge smile off my face when I was able to answer questions that stumped the rest of the class. That was my sense of “power”. I loved pointing out that those who had excelled in sports from previous high school years had graduated and could often be found working a cash register at Burger King, but “academics” from previous years were pursuing college and graduating with professional jobs.

In all aspects of life, I find people who put others down to make themselves look better. One reason for doing this is because a certain feeling of power comes with making oneself appear more “important” than someone else. This is true of Bible Thumpers as well, and from my very unscientific observations it appears to happen more to those who have no “power” in other aspects of their life. Thumping others upside the head with scripture provides a feeling of empowerment. God’s will is often cited, but I really don’t think the motivation has a thing to do with what God wants. It has to do with the selfish desire to feel power. And what better source of “power” than God himself? It’s hard to argue against “God said you must do such and such and this is the scripture that proves it!!”

I feel called to love others despite their sins. I have little chance of living up to that calling, but I look forward to making the attempt. To truly do what God asks of me I have to assassinate my desire for power, and must instead focus on becoming humble. One blog I read said something along this line:

Jesus could have done anything he wished, yet he decided to serve.

God, help me find the strength to do the same.

22 thoughts on “Selfish Motivation, Perhaps?

  1. Hmmmm…. OK, this is one where I don’t know where I stand. I mean, I agree with you in the intention, but I also agree with some who think that saying God’s Word and explaining it to those who don’t know it is something that honors God. I frequent a website where questions are asked about faith in Christ a lot. I don’t think they are honest about their interest; I do think that most try to catch me in my words and therefore use that as an indictment to faith. But I do answer them using God’s Word. The best example is the whole homosexuality issue (I’ll try not to channel Harriett Hayes from Studio 60). The Bible says that the act of homosexuality is a sin…there is no getting around that. But it also says that if I look at a woman lustfully, *I* commit adultery, which is also a sin. I know I’ve committed that sin, to my ultimate embarassment. So while, when asked, I do know what the Bible says about such and such. But often, when I say it, I am convicted about just how much of a failure I’ve been in keeping what God asks of me in my life. It all leads me to saying that that’s the reason Jesus died anyway…because no one can do what God asks. And where my sin creates the gap between me and God, God’s mercy through Jesus is reflected that much more. I’m not saved because of ANYTHING I’ve done…I’m saved because Jesus died so that all could be saved. And that grace is available to anyone who asks for it, no matter how big the gap is. So…where would you place me in this discussion? Is it a reasonable way to deal with it to you?

  2. Hmmmm….
    OK, this is one where I don’t know where I stand. I mean, I agree with you in the intention, but I also agree with some who think that saying God’s Word and explaining it to those who don’t know it is something that honors God.
    I frequent a website where questions are asked about faith in Christ a lot. I don’t think they are honest about their interest; I do think that most try to catch me in my words and therefore use that as an indictment to faith. But I do answer them using God’s Word.
    The best example is the whole homosexuality issue (I’ll try not to channel Harriett Hayes from Studio 60). The Bible says that the act of homosexuality is a sin…there is no getting around that. But it also says that if I look at a woman lustfully, *I* commit adultery, which is also a sin. I know I’ve committed that sin, to my ultimate embarassment. So while, when asked, I do know what the Bible says about such and such. But often, when I say it, I am convicted about just how much of a failure I’ve been in keeping what God asks of me in my life.
    It all leads me to saying that that’s the reason Jesus died anyway…because no one can do what God asks. And where my sin creates the gap between me and God, God’s mercy through Jesus is reflected that much more. I’m not saved because of ANYTHING I’ve done…I’m saved because Jesus died so that all could be saved. And that grace is available to anyone who asks for it, no matter how big the gap is.
    So…where would you place me in this discussion? Is it a reasonable way to deal with it to you?

  3. The person who is grounded in faith, has convictions, and speaks out to expose and reprove error (Col. 1: 23, I Cor. 15: 58, Eph. 5: 10, 11) is often charged with intolerance! The charge presupposed we are to be unconditionally and without qualification tolerant. Jesus was tolerant in matters morally and doctrinally indifferent. The Pharisees were very concerned and intolerant at Jesus’ disciples plucking and eating corn on the Sabbath. However, Jesus was tolerant (Matt. 12: 1-8). The Pharisees were also very intolerant regarding Jesus’ disciples eating without “washing.” Jesus, on the other hand, was tolerant (Mk. 7: 1-13).Jesus was intolerant. The casual reader of the New Testament has observed many instances of Jesus being intolerant and outspoken. In the foregoing cases regarding the Sabbath and the washing of hands, Jesus was intolerant with those who bound their traditions (Matt. 12: 1-8, Mk. 7: 1-13). The most wonderful sermon ever delivered is the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7). This sermon actually is an expose of Phariseeism. Jesus expressed much intolerance and was very plain and outspoken (Matt. 5: 20, 27, 6: 1-8).Upon closer examination one sees that when Jesus was tolerant, there was no sin involved, when Jesus was intolerant, sin was involved. Christians are to mimic Christ (I Pet. 2: 21). Hence, in matters not involving sin, the Christian is tolerant; but in matters involving a violation of God’s laws, the Christian must be intolerant. God’s word is also the standard to determine right and wrong – not emotions or what is politically correct (Gal. 2: 14).

  4. The person who is grounded in faith, has convictions, and speaks out to expose and reprove error (Col. 1: 23, I Cor. 15: 58, Eph. 5: 10, 11) is often charged with intolerance!

    The charge presupposed we are to be unconditionally and without qualification tolerant.

    Jesus was tolerant in matters morally and doctrinally indifferent. The Pharisees were very concerned and intolerant at Jesus’ disciples plucking and eating corn on the Sabbath. However, Jesus was tolerant (Matt. 12: 1-8). The Pharisees were also very intolerant regarding Jesus’ disciples eating without “washing.” Jesus, on the other hand, was tolerant (Mk. 7: 1-13).

    Jesus was intolerant. The casual reader of the New Testament has observed many instances of Jesus being intolerant and outspoken. In the foregoing cases regarding the Sabbath and the washing of hands, Jesus was intolerant with those who bound their traditions (Matt. 12: 1-8, Mk. 7: 1-13). The most wonderful sermon ever delivered is the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7). This sermon actually is an expose of Phariseeism. Jesus expressed much intolerance and was very plain and outspoken (Matt. 5: 20, 27, 6: 1-8).

    Upon closer examination one sees that when Jesus was tolerant, there was no sin involved, when Jesus was intolerant, sin was involved. Christians are to mimic Christ (I Pet. 2: 21). Hence, in matters not involving sin, the Christian is tolerant; but in matters involving a violation of God’s laws, the Christian must be intolerant. God’s word is also the standard to determine right and wrong – not emotions or what is politically correct (Gal. 2: 14).

  5. David,What you wrote goes along with some of the opinions I voiced when writing about Ted Haggard. In the examples you cite, Jesus’ intolerance is aimed toward “believers” at the time (the Pharisees). Towards the lost, he was quite tolerant and led by example.Through the years, Christians have lost sight of that example. Instead they are lenient towards fellow Christians, and quick to damn the lost to hell. Homosexuals, for instance, should be treated with much more tolerance than the men in the church who cheat on their wives or lust for the teenagers in the youth group.

  6. David,

    What you wrote goes along with some of the opinions I voiced when writing about Ted Haggard. In the examples you cite, Jesus’ intolerance is aimed toward “believers” at the time (the Pharisees). Towards the lost, he was quite tolerant and led by example.

    Through the years, Christians have lost sight of that example. Instead they are lenient towards fellow Christians, and quick to damn the lost to hell.

    Homosexuals, for instance, should be treated with much more tolerance than the men in the church who cheat on their wives or lust for the teenagers in the youth group.

  7. “Homosexuals, for instance, should be treated with much more tolerance than the men in the church who cheat on their wives or lust for the teenagers in the youth group.”Tolerance, dunno. Acceptance as is, absolutely.BTW, can you guys get through that huge post on John’s blog? I’m trying to read through it and it is just SO disjointed, to the point of unrecognizable.

  8. “Homosexuals, for instance, should be treated with much more tolerance than the men in the church who cheat on their wives or lust for the teenagers in the youth group.”

    Tolerance, dunno. Acceptance as is, absolutely.

    BTW, can you guys get through that huge post on John’s blog? I’m trying to read through it and it is just SO disjointed, to the point of unrecognizable.

  9. “Acceptance as is”Great wording. Thanks, Jeff.

  10. “Acceptance as is”

    Great wording. Thanks, Jeff.

  11. I will have to disagree with some of the intolerance entries earlier. I feel that we as the church have missed a great deal of the point of Jesus ministry. The point of Jesus ministry was not judgment but salvation, but it was never meant to end there. He wasn’t tolerant to sinners, but instead He extended mercy and grace. He spoke truth, but it was so severely laced with love that every sinner was asking Jesus to come to their house for dinner. That is not the response of someone who was just judged, but one of appreciation for the love that was shown to them in spite of the fact that they had sinned. Jesus only spoke judgment to those who acted as if the Bible was God instead of the Word of God that required the Holy Spirit to even understand. That is why the Bible states in 2nd Corinthians 3, “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” Without the Holy Spirit guiding a Bible study, LOOK OUT! The Bible has been used to teach some of the worst sermons ever. Take Satan for example. Do you think he wasted his least powerful temptations on Jesus? No way! He used his best, the Bible. Why? Because the twisting of the words of God were taken out of context and they became untrue. Satan was always saying, “If you are the Son of God.” Why? Because if he can get you to doubt your identity that God has given you as a believer, than Satan does not need to accuse the brethren anymore because we accuse ourselves. Jesus did not speak such words of judgment unless those who were in leadership of the church would counter His ministry by telling Him he was violating the scriptures. And in essence, that is true. Jesus did violate many of the laws of the Jews because they had built a system through the law that was not in tune with the heart of God. Jesus then became sin to complete the sacrificial requirements of the law. He did not abolish the law but He fulfilled it by becoming the sacrifice. The problem is that much of the church has bought Satan’s lies that they are still under the law and not under grace. Because the church has believed that, they begin judging according to the law and not grace. That is where you get this BS that has come out toward “sinners.” I believe that the Christians lash out because they claim to have the answers and in many cases they feel more condemned and depressed than people who don’t believe in Jesus. How is that the “good news?” The message of the Gospel looses its attraction when you take power out of it. If we as the church began loving the people we are trying to reach and we got free ourselves, than maybe sharing Jesus wouldn’t be so difficult. Many of the laws of the Jews did not come from God, but were created by the leaders of the church. For instance, when Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath, many objected because it violated the law. When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well that was a violation of the law. When touched the leper, He was violating the law. When He went in to the house of a sick woman and took her by the hand to heal her, He violated the law. Jesus fulfilled the law in that He became sin for us to purchase us from the law of sin and death. So, I think this conversation should be about love, not tolerance. It is not to Christians credit that they use such hateful language in the name of Jesus. In my opinion, they only use such language because they don’t know their God very well. If they did, they would try loving them and giving them a hug and allowing that love to show something worth living for.John & Kristi

  12. I will have to disagree with some of the intolerance entries earlier. I feel that we as the church have missed a great deal of the point of Jesus ministry. The point of Jesus ministry was not judgment but salvation, but it was never meant to end there. He wasn’t tolerant to sinners, but instead He extended mercy and grace. He spoke truth, but it was so severely laced with love that every sinner was asking Jesus to come to their house for dinner. That is not the response of someone who was just judged, but one of appreciation for the love that was shown to them in spite of the fact that they had sinned. Jesus only spoke judgment to those who acted as if the Bible was God instead of the Word of God that required the Holy Spirit to even understand. That is why the Bible states in 2nd Corinthians 3, “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” Without the Holy Spirit guiding a Bible study, LOOK OUT! The Bible has been used to teach some of the worst sermons ever. Take Satan for example. Do you think he wasted his least powerful temptations on Jesus? No way! He used his best, the Bible. Why? Because the twisting of the words of God were taken out of context and they became untrue. Satan was always saying, “If you are the Son of God.” Why? Because if he can get you to doubt your identity that God has given you as a believer, than Satan does not need to accuse the brethren anymore because we accuse ourselves.
    Jesus did not speak such words of judgment unless those who were in leadership of the church would counter His ministry by telling Him he was violating the scriptures. And in essence, that is true. Jesus did violate many of the laws of the Jews because they had built a system through the law that was not in tune with the heart of God. Jesus then became sin to complete the sacrificial requirements of the law. He did not abolish the law but He fulfilled it by becoming the sacrifice. The problem is that much of the church has bought Satan’s lies that they are still under the law and not under grace. Because the church has believed that, they begin judging according to the law and not grace. That is where you get this BS that has come out toward “sinners.” I believe that the Christians lash out because they claim to have the answers and in many cases they feel more condemned and depressed than people who don’t believe in Jesus. How is that the “good news?”
    The message of the Gospel looses its attraction when you take power out of it. If we as the church began loving the people we are trying to reach and we got free ourselves, than maybe sharing Jesus wouldn’t be so difficult. Many of the laws of the Jews did not come from God, but were created by the leaders of the church. For instance, when Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath, many objected because it violated the law. When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well that was a violation of the law. When touched the leper, He was violating the law. When He went in to the house of a sick woman and took her by the hand to heal her, He violated the law. Jesus fulfilled the law in that He became sin for us to purchase us from the law of sin and death. So, I think this conversation should be about love, not tolerance. It is not to Christians credit that they use such hateful language in the name of Jesus. In my opinion, they only use such language because they don’t know their God very well. If they did, they would try loving them and giving them a hug and allowing that love to show something worth living for.

    John & Kristi

  13. I would like to quote my pastor on your post “Love the sinner, but not the sin”. We are called to gently restore our brothers and sisters in faith and reach out to the lost and don’t condemn them. Jesus didn’t – He associated with tax-collectors, prostitutes and the like. But He also forgave them their sins through His mercy and grace…We should do like-wise. I fall short of God’s requirement every.single.day. A sin is a sin – but God forgives them all – if we turn from it…Hope my rambling makes sense…

  14. I would like to quote my pastor on your post “Love the sinner, but not the sin”. We are called to gently restore our brothers and sisters in faith and reach out to the lost and don’t condemn them. Jesus didn’t – He associated with tax-collectors, prostitutes and the like. But He also forgave them their sins through His mercy and grace…We should do like-wise.
    I fall short of God’s requirement every.single.day. A sin is a sin – but God forgives them all – if we turn from it…
    Hope my rambling makes sense…

  15. I was hanging out with my friend last night and part of our discussion was related to what you posted here. He’s a non-Christian dating a Christian lady and he doesn’t like her parents cuz they’re judgemental yet he likes me cuz I don’t judge him. I accept him for who he is despite his unbelief and I hope by my words and action of love that he may see how the spirit of God works.

  16. I was hanging out with my friend last night and part of our discussion was related to what you posted here. He’s a non-Christian dating a Christian lady and he doesn’t like her parents cuz they’re judgemental yet he likes me cuz I don’t judge him. I accept him for who he is despite his unbelief and I hope by my words and action of love that he may see how the spirit of God works.

  17. So I’ve been reading a couple of your blogs for the past 24 hours and its pretty amazing to see what’s happening.I’m amazed from the contrast with the first xxxchurch podcast you were on in October 2005 compared to the latest one (I just listened to the latest xxxchurch podcast last night that you were on.)It seems that you are tired and annoyed with “church” (in a religion sense) as I am to (when the Jesus message gets lost in a religion its a sad thing).I’m won’t, and I refuse to preach at you to express the joy that I get from seeing the Spirit work in your life. But I have to say that I am joyful and encouraged to see what He is doing in your life. Danhttp://www.myspace.com/dansface

  18. So I’ve been reading a couple of your blogs for the past 24 hours and its pretty amazing to see what’s happening.

    I’m amazed from the contrast with the first xxxchurch podcast you were on in October 2005 compared to the latest one (I just listened to the latest xxxchurch podcast last night that you were on.)
    It seems that you are tired and annoyed with “church” (in a religion sense) as I am to (when the Jesus message gets lost in a religion its a sad thing).

    I’m won’t, and I refuse to preach at you to express the joy that I get from seeing the Spirit work in your life. But I have to say that I am joyful and encouraged to see what He is doing in your life.

    Dan
    http://www.myspace.com/dansface

  19. I really do appreciate your honesty, Donny. I seem to realize my own selfish motivation and pride more and more as time goes by. It can be discouraging, but it also shows me how much I completely and utterly need Jesus to come through in my life. I just can’t do anything really good or pure on my own.

  20. I really do appreciate your honesty, Donny. I seem to realize my own selfish motivation and pride more and more as time goes by. It can be discouraging, but it also shows me how much I completely and utterly need Jesus to come through in my life. I just can’t do anything really good or pure on my own.

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