Christianity is not “behavior modification”…yet…

As I read tweets and posts of people these days, as they attack or defend the actions of a corporate CEO, it seems what has gotten lost in the discussion is the message of the gospel, and the reason that Jesus came to earth.

There are times I think that we forget that Christianity isn’t in the “behavior modification” business, and I know for sure that many who are offended by those who read scripture plainly, think that is our primary mission and goal.  They think most of us our out to modify their behavior – or that of those they care about – and love – while not confronting our own hypocrisy, our sins of gossip, or even.. our own sins in thought, word and deed of lust.

But the gospel isn’t primarily about changing people, converting evil sinners into well behaved saints as if by the flip of a switch.  It doesn’t work that way – and its not about that anyway.

It’s about introducing people to a God who cares about the broken, those broken by their own sin, and by damaged equally or more by the sins of the world.  It’s about bringing them the idea that God loves them enough to care for them in their brokenness, in their dysfunction, and reach to them, cleanse them, restore life to them.

All Christians are then, are those who are on the road to healing, as they deal with their own brokenness.  Well – not exactly,  We realize our brokenness, and our only way to deal with it – is as the blind men so long ago dealt with it, by crying “Lord, have mercy!”

In his letter to a young pastor named Titus, Paul reminds him of what life was like, prior to getting to know Jesus, the One who comes to the broken, and heals them.  He wrote:

3:3 There was a time when we too were ignorant, disobedient and misled and enslaved by different passions and dissipations; we lived then in wickedness and malice, hating each other and hateful ourselves. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Saviour for humanity were revealed, 5 it was not because of any upright actions we had done ourselves; it was for no reason except his own faithful love that he saved us, by means of the cleansing water of rebirth and renewal in the Holy Spirit 6 which he has so generously poured over us through Jesus Christ our Saviour; 7 so that, justified by his grace, we should become heirs in hope of eternal life. 8 This is doctrine that you can rely on. I want you to be quite uncompromising in teaching all this, so that those who now believe in God may keep their minds constantly occupied in doing good works. All this is good, and useful for everybody. Titus 3:3-8 (NJB)

It’s probably a pretty needed reminder to the church today.  We were sinners when Christ came to us, through the message of the gospel, and through that word and the sacraments cleansed us of our sin.  We still struggle with it – from a behavior perspective we aren’t less sinners that those who don’t know Christ.  But we know that we are being healed, being counted as righteous, and renewed.  That God does the work, and if our behavior changes, if we realize sins power is broken when it comes to the control it has on our lives – He gets the praise…. not us… He gets the credit.. not us…

and when we see those still paralyzed by their brokenness… our attitude should be one of concern, and love, and bringing them to the only One who can bring them healing…. instead of lining up to crush them some more.

May we learn to cry “Lord have mercy!” for others, as well as for ourselves!

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God's saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on August 2, 2012, in Devotions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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