Wanting One Thing, But Doing Another

I don’t really understand myself, for I want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do what I hate. 

Romans chapter 7, verse 15, from the New Living Translation

The news is filled with stories about conflict. From homes, communities, within nations, and between nations. Even the “Church” is not exempt from conflict. But this morning I want to bring that word closer to home. And the word I am using isn’t conflict–but Conflicted. The definition of Conflicted is “having or showing confused and mutually inconsistent feelings. Notice those last 3 words: mutually inconsistent feelings. In this morning’s passage, Conflicted is what Paul is talking about–mutually inconsistent feelings.

It’s not enough to say there is conflict. Nay! It must go deeper within each person to realize that one is wrestling between 2 mutually inconsistent feelings. For example–let’s say someone has hurt you and you refuse to forgive them. And maybe it doesn’t bother them that they refuse to forgive that person. BUT. . .one day they read Ephesians chapter 4 verse 32: “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (NLT) Now, if they are serious about following Jesus there is more than a conflict going on. They should be Conflicted.

There are 2 mutually inconsistent feelings happening. More than feelings, it’s conflicting ideas; more than ideas–it’s between truth and THE Truth: Unforgiveness versus Forgiveness. Our “truth” (not being willing to forgive, as in this example) is in conflict with THE Truth (that forgiveness is uncondition)! If we are serious about following Jesus, the result should be that we become Conflicted! Like with Paul, we know what we should do–maybe even “want” to do it. But instead we don’t. In every issue of life there is our “truth” and THE Truth.

Until we are Conflicted we will never deal with the difference between our truth and THE Truth. And when we become Conflicted, what should we do? Well, simple! First become Conflicted! In verse 24 Paul wrote: “Oh, what a miserable person I am! Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin and death?” Thankfully for us, Paul answered his own question (and what should be OUR question) in verse 25: “Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God’s law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin.”

Jesus delivers us from whatever it is that is Conflicted with THE Truth. He doesn’t bless our truth–but works to take away that Conflicted desire we have. And to my fellow United Methodist Institution tribal members, we should be Conflicted over what is happening. We have mutually inconsistent feelings within this Tribe. So, will you live with and in “your” truth, or will you trust God enough to take you into THE Truth? Being Conflicted is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a very good thing. Now we are contronted with truth versus THE Truth. Don’t allow truth to guide you to your conclusions. Instead, let THE Truth guide you and trust God with the results.

JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS!

52 He sent messengers ahead to a Samaritan village to prepare for his arrival. 53 But the people of the village did not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem. 54 When James and John saw this, they said to Jesus, “Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up?” 55 But Jesus turned and rebuked them. 56 So they went on to another village.

Luke chapter 9, verses 52 through 56, The New Living Translation

Because I’ve read much of Andy Andrew’s writings, I have become a “Noticer”. Some things I’ve noticed have made me laugh, some helped me grow deeper in Jesus, and some caused me stand in awe of God’s ways. And other things have made me sad; really sad. For example, my Tribal situation. One thing I’ve noticed is how people jump to conclusions! Jumping to conclusions seems to be the only exercise some people get! Jumping to conclusions like jumping on a trampoline. You go up and then you come down in the same general vicinity. And when you don’t land in the same general vicinity, well, you get hurt, and hurt real bad!

Case in point: the response of James and John when that Samaritan village rejected Jesus. They jumped to the conclusion that this village needed to become a crispy critter–another Sodom and Gomorrah. And did you notice how Jesus responded to their jumped conclusion? In case you didn’t, here is how Jesus responded: But Jesus turned and rebuked them.” I’ve been “rebuked” by my parents when I was young, and let me tell you, the look on their face let me know with absolute certainty that I had done or said something wrong! Can you imagine the look on the face of Jesus and how they felt? Try to imagine that “look”! And how does this relate to our Tribal Hot Mess? Glad you asked!

Progressives have jumped to the conclusion that we are abandoning the Wesleyan Movement; that we aren’t acting out of love; that all we care about is our property and money; that the Global Methodist Church will throw out women pastors; and that we will whither up and just die. This is what I’ve noticed in their words. But some of you conservatives have also jumped to some conclusions. Some have jumped to the conclusion that all progressives and centrists are demons sent to destroy the Wesleyan Movement; that all bishops are living in disobedience; that everthing will be rosy when we get out of the United Methodist Church; that we just need to get out because anywhere is better than where we are at now. Aha! But is anywhere really better than where we are right now as a Tribe?

The place our hearts and minds need to be right now is in the process of Discernment, NOT jumping to conclusions! Discernment isn’t always neat and easy. If it were then we wouldn’t be in this Hot Mess. It takes time, effort, and energy on our part–and a lot of it. Rather than jumping, we need to be praying–praying harder than we ever have before. As I stated earlier, I am leading both of the congregations I serve to pray first before making any decision. Hopefully they will decide not to jump, but to follow The Holy Spirit. Friends, this jumping to conclusions is only adding smoke and fire to this Hot Mess. James and John never asked Jesus, “Well, what should we do now?” No! They were hoping to see fire come down and destroy those vile and evil Samaritans! Without jumping to conclusions about the future of the Wesleyan Movement, and every movement of the Holy Spirit whichever Tribe you are in, this is the season to ask Jesus–“What do we do now?”