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08 December 2007

I Assume...

Have you ever watched a movie with someone who's cursed with knowing more about the subject at hand than the movie's producers or writers? For instance, watching "The Right Stuff" with a NASA engineer is probably not the best of ideas. As I recall, my dad found that he just wasn't able to watch this fact-based movie because it contained so many things that were fictional or just plain silly.


For some, the only way they can really enjoy a movie is to repeatedly trumpet the little mistakes and inaccuracies in it to all those in the room ("Hey, check out the Pepsi can hidden in the Imperial Walker!"). I'm sure this is pleasant for everyone, especially if that person is holding the DVD remote.
(By the way, there's a great website out there for people who love to point out mistakes, large or small, in movies: Nitpickers.com)

I'm cursed with listening to a song and not being able to simply enjoy it. Instead of hearing a song as a work of art, my ears gravitate to things that I assume not many people pay attention to, like the mix (the relative levels of the instruments and vocals), the kind of signal processing that was used, the instrument and vocal arrangements, etc.

I think that I and others of my ilk are predisposed to try to determine the motivation of people, particularly in the church, since we know that this is the one place where motivation must be pure. We really want to know why people are doing what they're doing. I used to (and still do, to some extent) pick apart people's hand motions during solos, and I still have trouble with the pained, contorted facial expressions some soloists apparently feel they have to make when singing. What motivates that? Hernia? Or is it supposed to make us think that they really mean what they're singing?

Those are just little physical things. When we see Church members and leaders -- deacons, elders, pastors, laypeople, etc. -- taking certain courses of action, if we disagree, we may have thoughts like, "That's just a political move," or, "She's obviously concerned more about this or that than following the Holy Spirit's leadership," or "He just wants people to notice him." Now, this may be the case in a given situation. But again, it may not.

Someone once commented to me that the main reason we see hypocrisy in the church is because we know our own selves and expect that everyone else is a little bit like us. Stinging, eh? True?

Jesus told His disciples to be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves (this was the subject of the inaugural blog here... The "inblogural" post?). We should not follow people blindly or resoundingly endorse everything that goes on, but you know what? We should come to expect and believe that the motivations of other believers are pure. "Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves." - Philippians 2:3b (NKJV)

Now, if someone is plainly leading a lifestyle that lacks the fruit of the Spirit, we can't, and shouldn't, assume that their motivation is spotless. However, we have to be extremely careful about reading between the lines in general. From small situations to large, this can easily foster discontentment and gossip, and can be harmful to the body of Christ.

I want you to think of situation in your church fellowship where you have assumed something negative. Then consider how you'd feel about it if you based all of your assumptions on the fact that the motivation of those involved was strictly to see Christ lifted up. It may not make you agree with the situation and it may not right any wrongs, but it's a safe bet that you'll begin to see things in a new light, and this will probably allow you to approach the situation much differently.

Again, keep in mind that I am talking about our personal assumptions; not about throwing reason out the window.

2 comments:

Preston N said...

I think of how our blessed Savior deals with us. God is not interested in our outward actions, but rather the motives of our hearts. Even if we are doing something out of pure benevolent motive, but the actions might not be so reverant, God will gently deal with us through his spirt in the right and proper manner. Just as a good parent does with a child. Too many times I think people want to be another persons Holy Spirit when it comes to these matters.

Dean Lusk said...

Preston said, "Too many times I think people want to be another persons Holy Spirit when it comes to these matters."

Very, very well-stated.

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