I started reading an article on victims of church abuse. I was hoping for better but soon realized things were going to get even worse.
The writer was appealing to all the poor souls abused in church by leaders or toxic environments created by leaders, and I knew the writer was a one of those humanistic coaches. He was going to appeal to the overt individualism of moderns. He is, and he did.
Yes, he went “there.” Point one, center stage, here it comes, wait for it, “leaders are abusive when they insist people submit.”
He didn’t say it that way, of course, but he presupposed false equality, entitlement, and expectations as norms. He presupposed that we aren’t in a kingdom but a collective community. He presupposed that people are abused just because they don’t get what they want, because they suffer, because someone has expectations for them, or because they receive discipline.
If he is right, God is abusive. If he is right, representing God with God’s heart is abusive. If he’s right, discipling is abusive. If he’s right, kingdom is abusive. If he’s right, we are all called to community instead of culture. If he’s right, anything that challenges collectivism is abusive.
Of course, he offers no kingdom culture principles, processes, or protocols, just the same vague references to “a culture of honor” and “stop trying to be right”, and “let’s all just get along.” He begins with the feelings of people, protecting them from any and all challenges. He wants to create safe zones for dysfunctional brats and call it “love for all.” It is a Beatles’ song for worship service mentality.
Even his references to problem-solving presupposes leaders as the problem instead of the solution. He is convinced that coaching is the way forward and the kingdom leadership dynamics are the problem.
In other words, we see problems in the kingdom culture so he throws the kingdom culture out altogether in favor of a new way forward. He is ready for a collective community.
Father’s Discipline is Painful
Unless you are willing to warp your definition of words to the point of making the Bible say nothing at all, ignore the meaning of words both Hebrew and Greek in origin, and make kingdom into the Mickey Mouse Club for believers, you must cut Hebrews 12 out of the Bible to sustain the kind of thinking that has been pandemic in the church-anity. If this guy is right, God is abusive.
Father disciplines all authentic children. His discipline is painful. He ignores all but authentic children, and the ones He ignores are the quitters who refuse to submit to the discipline.
That is a first point that blows up the presuppositions of most moderns. I read this same sentiment yesterday somewhere in the pile: “Love is stalking you.” The surface slush that follows is so sweet it makes my teeth hurt. One mention of Jesus goading Paul as a cattle herder would move cattle with a sharpened stick and all the flowers he wore to San Francisco would fall from the writer’s hair. The point is that Father stands around people with doe eyes filled with tears hoping they will return to His waiting arms so He won’t feel so lonely and failing in His job.
Father includes kingdom leaders in the process of discipline so authentic children don’t squirm out of the pain or quit. Father ignores the quitters until they are ready to stand the discipline, so the kingdom leader has a responsiblity to work with Father in strengthening the will of the authentic children to sustain submission and endure discipline. Kingdom leaders help people endure pain, not give them permission to rebel against Father.
Kingdom does not have Dr Phil leadership models. The Ecclesia doesn’t invest in couches for therapy sessions based upon people feeling safe enough to regurgitate their deepest woes. We don’t grow by understanding or being understood. We grow by surrender, submission, and sacrifice. The picture of Father in Hebrews 12 is abusive to therapists because God is not a therapist. The reason He disciplines is because He already understands you, knows you cannot understand yourself, and as burning passion for your purpose. He has no sympathy for your childish cries for comfort when what you need discomfort.
God is not abusive. Discipline is not abusive. Pain is not abusive. Helping people endure pain is not abusive. Strengthening the will of the authentic child to submit to the process always begins with submission in human relationships else the entire role of the kingdom leader short-circuits.
Kingdom or Preschool Playground?
“Splashing about with Daddy in the glory” seems to be the new cool thing to do. As if the kingdom will be built by angels, and we can all live together in a yellow submarine called “community.” As if the Bible teaches us to be a collective as a basis for establishing a community.
We never build kingdom with community. We build kingdom with culture. We are not spiritual community organizers. We are kingdom culture establishers.
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Me. Therefore, as you are going disciple all cultures, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
“Teaching them to obey all that I’ve commanded you.” Teaching them. To obey. All. As a basis for discipling them, teach them to obey. Teach them to obey all. Teach them to obey all as I’ve taught you to obey Me. In All.
Culture, not community. We are not a collective, we are a kingdom.
Beginning with community organizer mentality of false entitlement, equality, and expectations, we produce a people with over individualism, squash any and all attempts at obedience and submission, and give permission to everyone to do what they wish as a long as they find a way to be nice about it so we can all continuing living in the yellow submarine. The goal in mind has nothing to do with producing the purposes of God unless we redefine and redesign “church” at will to fit the consensus of the community.
This is a kingdom. We have a King. He gives orders. We learn to obey them. We follow the leaders He sets into place. We know kingdom culture well enough to recognize bad leadership, and we deal with dysfunction by those principles, processes, and protocols.
Kingdom culture trains people to submit and obey the King. Getting along with one another begins with kingdom culture. Submission to one another must be submission to someone other than ourselves. That is, the basis for oneness isn’t in human agreement but agreement with God, and the basis for what is common must be culture.
The apostles began establishing kingdom culture immediately after Pentecost, and we sometimes take the most infantile of kingdom culture development as our model for maturity. The people devoted themselves to the apostolic Didache, taking a share, eating together, and prayers. When perceived unfairness arose, they sent oversight leaders to solve the problems because they were actively involved in establishing kingdom culture.
Why would I say that and why should we believe that? Because Jesus gave them this mandate, that’s why. They heard His words for forty days after Resurrection, teaching them kingdom. He did not hold a church growth seminar for forty days on how to accumulate believers and establish a community organizer task force. He was not forming a collective. He was expanding a kingdom He established with representatives He trained and tested.
God is not abusive in disciplining authentic children to produce maturity. Kingdom leaders are not abusive in discipling authentic children with strength of will to endure the painful process. Kingdom leaders are not abusive to protect the whole from bitter root judgments that arise in people rebelling against Father’s discipline and the representatives Father positions in their lives.
At some point, the real discussion comes back to how we identify when kingdom leaders are actually partnering with Father as opposed to doing something for their own benefit. And, that is an excellent discussion because we can only talk about that when we restore kingdom culture. Kingdom culture provides the norms of behavior and value, the basis for honor and love as the fullness of God’s expectations from Law and Prophets. Once we restore kingdom culture, the vast majority of the discussion is over because what is right, appropriate, normal, and just becomes obvious.
We have lost kingdom culture, and we don’t even know we’ve lost it.