I have seen it too many times.
The church wants others to do less _____________ (drinking, cursing, fornicating, etc.) and more _____________ (praying, tithing, serving, etc)
*And mostly in that specific church, not anywhere else.
But we have to ask ourselves, do we want them to start/stop doing those things for their benefit, or ours?
I think we have confused salvation with behavior-management and traded the good news for “good advice”.
Now, we don’t do it just to individuals, we have tried doing the same with society. We tell people how to follow the law, when to go to church, which TV shows to watch, how to have sex like a missionary, which politicians to elect.
We want to control people with “the truth”, yet God called us to love people truthfully (which means, we love them even when they do the opposite of what we ask or expect).
I know, I know, it’s because we know better than them. #Pride
Or, we don’t want them to suffer as we did. #FalseHumility
Also, we want to protect them, and teach them, and help them. #Deception
And we expect the truth to be received because… hey it’s in the Bible and it’s the truth! #SatanUsedThatTrickOnJesusSoNoThanks
Listen my friend… the truth is a gift, not an overlord.
Yes, the Church of Jesus has access to the message of truth. But if we use truth to control others, then that truth is not doing what Jesus said it should do, “Set you free!”
Thus, if the truth is not setting people free, then it is making them prisoners. Jailed inside whatever version of the truth we are selling.
“The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it. Let it loose; it will defend itself.” Saint Augustine
And that is why control is a snitch. Because when leaders/pastors/this author/couples/parents seek power, it indicates the need to overcome an inner feeling of powerlessness. Control tells the truth about how we actually feel.
Jesus proved that we can live a happy sonship without having to control others. He knew internally who he was and what he was called to do. He had no need to prove that by being controlling, exactly the opposite, he proved his might by being a servant.
He never controlled Peter’s stubbornness, or Thomas’ doubt, not even Judas’ betrayal. He could’ve. But the ways of love are superior to the ways of power.
“Powerful people do not try to control other people. They know it doesn’t work, and that it’s not their job. Their job is to control themselves.”
Danny Silk, Keep Your Love On.
I’m realizing that most of the issues in my life have been created because of my addiction to control.
I want to control how my wife expresses her emotions. I want to control how my kids respond to my correction. I want to control how my pastor pastors me.
The truth is, I don’t need control. I want control. #Addicted
And if you have ever been abused, neglected, abandoned or experienced any traumatic event that made you feel like your life was out of control (with no protection), then you might have become a control addict yourself.
Controlling people (and controlling churches) create stressful environments for those around them. They control because they fear being harmed again. And while trying to have dominance over a person or a situation they prove how insignificant they feel.
The good news is that the One who is (actually and fully) in control, wants to heal us. His love wants to override the fear.
And we can start with a simple step today: let’s hand over control to the Holy Spirit.
He’s the expert on conviction, counsel and comfort anyway. And He wants to teach both the Church as a whole, and us as individuals, that it is possible to live a life where we are not enforcing our standards on others, while at the same time, being happy with our convictions.
Remember, you just have to stay true to what God has called you to give up, what He asked you to surrender, what He invited you to stay away from.
Because controlling others is not a fruit of the spirit, Self-Control is.
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Have you ever feel pressure to volunteer at church? Or pressure to attend church? Seen the signs of spiritual abuse in church? Please comment on how you deal with it in the section below.