G-23: Console or Counsel?… May 9, 2014

Jonathots Daily Blog

(2226)

murderPerhaps the most important discovery in understanding life is an accurate representation of what has happened and what didn’t happen. Arriving at that story line and discovering the truth of the matter not only allows for clarification but permits us to go forward with a bit of intelligence.

Man and woman had two sons. It was a by-product of their love and also their horniness.

Like every other set of parents that followed them, they had no idea what they were doing. Parenting is not a science, nor is it a religion; rather, it is a game of chance.

Since there were two children, there were two different interpretations of the family goals. One son grew up diligent, straight as an arrow and willing to accept the spiritual principles of the household. The other grew up sympathetic to the cause, but in search of short-cuts and ways to limit his involvement.

Yet man and woman loved them both.

Not so much the brothers to each other, though. Because the danger with the righteousness possessed by the one sibling is that it can quickly become self-righteousness. And the danger with short-cuts, as pursued by the other brother, is that they often take you down dark alleys.

So a conflict arises and it’s time to decide how to resolve the breach.

Do you counsel or do you console?

Humans quickly become addicted to consolation. Matter of fact, even those who have committed atrocities still find themselves hunkered down in a bunker at the end of their journey, desiring a hug.

On the other hand, the human family is not quite as receptive to counsel–because at the root of all counsel is the proposition that we must stay involved to improve our situation. Giving up is so much more fun. Admitting that things are impossible and beyond our scope is often comforting.

So when God comes and talks to the one boy who is very sad and crestfallen by his lack of approval over a recent offering, God offers counsel. I know we tend to believe that God is a consoler, but actually, a careful viewing of His style will tell you that He firmly believes in humanity and considers us capable of following advice. The advice was concise:

“If you do well, you’re going to succeed. If you don’t you’re going to fail, and then, if you feel sorry for yourself, worse things will happen.”

That was it. No pat on the back; no “nice try, kid.”

The young man found no consolation in being told to do better, so he started hunting for a victim. One day he found his brother in a field and they argued.

Please understand–it was an argument. That means that the straight-as-an-arrow brother decided to stick the tip of that arrow into his brother, to make a point. His righteousness gained a bit of piety. And of course, when people are already pissed off, it doesn’t help to remind them how inadequate they are.

The end result was a murder.

I think it’s safe to say that if we were rating God as a counselor, we might just have to give Him a fairly low score on this adventure. This is why we learn from spiritual discovery that there is a time to console and a time to counsel.

  • You console when you encounter people and there’s only pain.
  • You counsel when there’s pain … but also the first fruits of questioning.

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Paying Paul without Robbing… July 6, 2013

Jonathots Daily Blog

(1935)

Pine Island churchThere is a tendency to want to share truth by proving points instead of living out convictions. Yet when other people don’t share the convictions, what do you do with that unrelenting sort?

You can try to convert them–even though most people don’t change their minds as easily as a Mustang drops down its top.

It’s the other alternatives that bother me. Truthfully, as long as someone’s trying to preach at me or teach in my direction, I still have the inkling that at least they care enough about me to want me to become a part of their flock.

But when they give up on the idea of me joining the ranks, too often I become the enemy. They start looking for reasons to dislike me. They immediately alienate me from their circle of influence–and more often than not, meticulously foster a search to find evidence of my ignorance.

I believe this is not a good way to advance a fresh idea. Good ideas need to be faithful to their principles without being obnoxious to bystanders. Candidly, I believe we’ve lost that particular ability.

So as I go off tonight and tomorrow to share with the folks at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Pine Island, Minnesota, I have taken some time to understand that these burgeoning human beings have a history and a present to go along with their future plans.

For 114 years this church has been in existence. Just stop and think about that. I must ask myself if there’s anything I have pursued for 114 days–or even hours.

Ministers have come and gone. Parishioners have spent their entire lives seeking spiritual food within this enclosure. They’ve laughed. They’ve wept. They’ve married and they’ve died.

And you know what’s amazing? They did all of it without my help.

I’m not trying to limit the scope of my talent or influence. I’m just saying that respect for one another to where we have arrived is necessary in order for us to have a confluence of ideas and emotions that create fellowship instead of dissension.

To put it in today’s language, you’ve gotta give folks their props.

So I made a short list of things which I want to make sure to achieve before I depart the sanctity and beauty of this congregation:

1. Don’t try to make things bad to share something good. I’m tired of this approach. People feel like they have to tear something down that’s already established in order to promote their product. As Jesus said, “I didn’t come to destroy, but to fulfill.” Brilliant.

2. Don’t attack the outside to improve the inside. Is it really necessary to establish that the world is lost, confused and perhaps damnable, just so we feel more spiritual? Is God out to prove His point, or is He out to save the world? There’s a difference, you know.

3. Don’t give up on the good in an attempt to achieve better. I don’t know if I’ll like all the ways the St. Paul people worship. Honestly, no one asked my opinion. My job is not to tear down what is already established–just to strengthen the pillars.

4. And finally, give people a chance to find the Kingdom of God that’s already within them. It is essential that we realize that church is the revelation that God dwells best in the human heart, and less effectively in altars of stone. Just allowing people the joy of absorbing that happiness is what God wants for His children. And that bubbling in the spirit must be discovered through our personal communion with ourselves and our heavenly Father.

So you see, because I’ve been thinking about these four things, I can look forward to my time with these diligent brothers and sisters, who have constructed a 114-year history. I think I’ve learned the lesson–don’t destroy.

And therefore, in my own simple way, maybe I can help them fulfill some of their dreams.

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