“Your empathy is a sin” – a response to Desiring God

Umm . . . yes, he really did call it a sin, an “enticing sin,” in fact. That is, this Desiring God author truly did say that empathy is bad and even a trick of the devil. And the majority of the commenters on the Facebook post of the article and the hundreds who shared it believed the same way, many of them feeling convicted of the sin of empathy.

It’s a Screwtape-styled article, so you’re supposed to read it inside out and opposite, sometimes but not all the time, which can make it challenging to figure out, but it’s here, so I welcome you to see for yourself. Continue reading ““Your empathy is a sin” – a response to Desiring God”

A new church parable of the Good Samaritan

inspired by Valerie Jacobson, and posted in honor of #SBC2019, the convention of which has a theme this year of dealing with sexual abuse in the church.

*****

Samaritan: What happened to you?

Wounded One: I was attacked by a sadistic robber.

Samaritan: Really? Which way did he go? I have to find him.

Wounded: Could you help me first before you bring him to justice?

Sam: Bring him to justice? No, I need to go find him and befriend him and show him unconditional love and help him see the error of his ways through long and patient counseling and maybe some lunches together at that sweet little inn in town. 

Wounded: But . . . he took all my clothes.

Sam: Oh yeah, I noticed—that was how I could see the bruises all over your body. Hey, here’s my extra cloak. Take care, and remember that this suffering is for your good and your greatest problem is your own sin. 

*****

Samaritan: Hi, are you the one who robbed the Wounded One on the highway?

Robber: Oh yeah, my temper just got the better of me for a minute. I don’t know why it happened.

Sam: Hey, it happens to all of us. After all, we’re all sinners. I was wondering if you’d like to catch some lunch at that sweet little inn in town.

Rob: Oh yeah, that’d be great. I have some extra cash on me today.

Sam: Perfect, but it’ll be my treat. Let’s go. And, you know, I’d like to talk to you about learning to do the right thing because, you know, God commands it.

Rob: Absolutely. [A tear forms in his eye.] I want to do the right thing. My temper just gets the better of me sometimes.

Sam: Well, I know how that is, for sure.  No condemnation here! In fact, the Bible says there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, and I’m not about to be the one pointing fingers.  

Rob (at the inn, eating his lunch) : This means a lot to me. Thank you.

Sam: Oh, don’t even mention it. It’s the least I can do, really. After all, when it comes to repentance, I’d rather err on the side of grace, you know what I mean? Look, I see plenty of evidences of grace in your life already. When I found you, you were counting your money, which indicates frugality. You’re carrying with you an extra set of clothes, which indicates forethought. You have great manners. Buddy, I could go on and on! 

Wounded One appears in the doorway on all fours.

Sam: How did you get here?

WO: I crawled.

Sam: Look, this is really inconvenient. I have a tremendous gospel opportunity, right here, right now. If you come in, it could mess everything up. Anyway, if you pray about what you did wrong to cause what happened to you, I’m sure you can keep it from happening again. (turning back to Rob) Sorry for the interruption.

Rob (his mouth full of food, calling to Wounded One): Hey, I’m really sorry for what happened!

Sam: Whoa! Did you hear that? Wounded One, hey, now it’s on you. Forgiveness is mandated by the Scriptures, by Jesus Himself. Good job, Rob. I didn’t even have to bring it up! Fist bump!

WO: I need help.

Sam: Hey, Innkeeper, could you close that door? We’ve got some heckler interrupting our lunch.

******

This post was inspired by a Facebook post by Valerie Jacobsen, who adds that instead of this parable that represents the dire state of the modern evangelical church: 

“If we’re bringing the true Gospel, 

and if our expectation is that God Himself will raise the dead and replace stony hearts with hearts of flesh, 

we can kindly care for victims 

even as we urge perpetrators to humble themselves before the living God, 

repent of their sins before him, confess their crimes, and make restitution.”

“Better than I deserve”

If you’ve listened to Dave Ramsey at all, you’ve heard it as a response to “How are you?”

If you listen to country gospel, you might have heard it as a song.

If you’ve been looking, you’ve seen it in blog posts (and more blog posts) and maybe even on T shirts.

If you’ve sat under C.J. Mahaney or any of his disciples, you’ve heard it in sermons and greetings at church.

It sounds like a cute catch phrase. To some people it sounds humble.

And Biblical. Continue reading ““Better than I deserve””

Will God send leanness to your soul?

Here’s something we taught our children from the time they were old enough to understand:

Sometimes the worst punishment a person can get is what he wants.

I remmeber how astonished our children were with that teaching. It took much discussion for them to even begin to grasp it.

And of course our Biblical example was the Israelites, who turned from God and got what they wanted—lots and lots of quail. So much that it came out of their noses, as Numbers 11 so colorfully describes. Continue reading “Will God send leanness to your soul?”

Three fingers pointing back at you

It’s common for preachers and Christian writers to tell us, “When you listen to this sin being described, don’t think about anybody else; just think about yourself and search your own soul.” 

Many Christians, well-meaning and good-hearted, very much take that admonition to heart and do their best never to apply any Scriptural finger-pointing to anyone around them. 

That’s because frankly it’s a little scary and perhaps condemning, to think, “When you point the finger at someone else, you have three fingers pointing back at you.” Continue reading “Three fingers pointing back at you”

Is your fear sinful . . . or actually pleasing to God?

When Helena Knowlton of Confusion to Clarity first began talking to me about fear in the cult she came out of, I knew I wanted to write about fear. But since I wanted to have a better grasp of the concept, I spent time studying fear in the Bible. (This study covers only the New Testament. I want to do the Old Testament eventually, to cover all the excellent Scriptures there.)

So, it may not come as a surprise, but there’s more than one kind of fear. Continue reading “Is your fear sinful . . . or actually pleasing to God?”

The good news about Biblical bitterness (a short talk)

In March I was privileged to speak at the Awaken Network’s conference on abuse. My topic was Biblical bitterness, showing how in the Bible “bitterness” refers to one who has been poisoned and is grieving, and “bitterness” also refers to one who is doing the poisoning. Both are called “bitter,” but only one is sinful.

Megan Cox of Give Her Wings (with whom I also did a recent interview on this subject) said, “This is such good news.” Finding out that the Scriptures teach something different from the heavy burden of guilt and shame that church people often lay on the backs of the oppressed—well, that really is good news.

You can view that talk here:

To All the Christian Friends I Could Not Keep (guest post by Ryan Ashton)

Inspired by Andre Henry’s powerful post “To All the White Friends I Couldn’t Keep,” I wrote about the impact of losing friendships in the Christian community. 

All of us have a journey that brought us to where we are today. Many of us left a wake of blood and tears, people we had to leave behind, or who left us. I want you to think for a moment about each of those people. If there was one person you could have back—if abuse and mistreatment were not a factor—who would it be?

This is written to those in my life. Continue reading “To All the Christian Friends I Could Not Keep (guest post by Ryan Ashton)”